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Cancer Res. 2009 Dec 15;69(24):9413-21. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2158.

Deficiency of pRb family proteins and p53 in invasive urothelial tumorigenesis.

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Department of Urology, New York University School of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Manhattan, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Defects in pRb tumor suppressor pathway occur in approximately 50% of the deadly muscle-invasive urothelial carcinomas in humans and urothelial carcinoma is the most prevalent epithelial cancer in long-term survivors of hereditary retinoblastomas caused by loss-of-function RB1 mutations. Here, we show that conditional inactivation of both RB1 alleles in mouse urothelium failed to accelerate urothelial proliferation. Instead, it profoundly activated the p53 pathway, leading to extensive apoptosis, and selectively induced pRb family member p107. Thus, pRb loss triggered multiple fail-safe mechanisms whereby urothelial cells evade tumorigenesis. Additional loss of p53 in pRb-deficient urothelial cells removed these p53-dependent tumor barriers, resulting in late-onset hyperplasia, umbrella cell nuclear atypia, and rare-occurring low-grade, superficial papillary bladder tumors, without eliciting invasive carcinomas. Importantly, mice deficient in both pRb and p53, but not those deficient in either protein alone, were highly susceptible to subthreshold carcinogen exposure and developed invasive urothelial carcinomas that strongly resembled the human counterparts. The invasive lesions had a marked reduction of p107 but not p130 of the pRb family. Our data provide compelling evidence, indicating that urothelium, one of the slowest cycling epithelia, is remarkably resistant to transformation by pRb or p53 deficiency; that concurrent loss of these two tumor suppressors is necessary but insufficient to initiate urothelial tumorigenesis along the invasive pathway; that p107 may play a critical role in suppressing invasive urothelial tumor formation; and that replacing/restoring the function of pRb, p107, or p53 could be explored as a potential therapeutic strategy to block urothelial tumor progression.

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