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Trends Biochem Sci. 1990 May;15(5):199-202.

The retinoblastoma gene and cell growth control.

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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Nine Cambridge Center, MA 02142.


Rare diseases often provide unique and fascinating insights into the workings of biological machinery. Retinoblastoma is a good example. This hereditary disease occurs rarely (in only one out of 20,000 children), yet it opens a 'window' into the mechanisms that sit at the very center of growth control in cells throughout the body. Children who survive bilateral retinoblastoma often have offspring who are similarly affected. Indeed, transmission of the disease suggests the actions of a simple dominant Mendelian allele of high penetrance. Three years ago the wild-type allele of this gene (termed Rb) was isolated by molecular cloning. With this success has come a rich harvest of information on tumor pathogenesis and the molecular biology of cellular growth control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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