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Cell cycle and cancer: genetic analysis of the role of cyclin-dependent kinases.

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  • 1Molecular Oncology Program, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), Madrid, Spain.


Most human tumors harbor mutations that misregulate the early phases of the cell cycle. Here, we summarize genetic evidence, mostly obtained in our laboratory using strains of gene-targeted mice, that provides direct experimental support for a role of Cdk4 in tumor development. Moreover, these genetic studies challenge some well-established concepts regarding the role of Cdks during the early phases of the cell cycle. For instance, they have illustrated that Cdk4 and Cdk6 are not essential for cell division during embryonic development except in the hematopoietic system. More surprisingly, mice lacking Cdk2 survive for over 2 years without detectable abnormalities except in their germ cells, indicating that Cdk2 is essential for meiosis but dispensable for the normal mitotic cell cycle. Cdk2 is also dispensable for cell cycle inhibition and tumor suppression by the Cip/Kip inhibitors, p21(Cip1) and p27(Kip1). These observations have important implications not only to understand cell cycle regulation, but also to validate Cdks as potential targets for the development of therapeutic strategies to block proliferation of tumor cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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