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Cancer Res. 2013 Jul 15;73(14):4247-55. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3117. Epub 2013 May 16.

Rb1 haploinsufficiency promotes telomere attrition and radiation-induced genomic instability.

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Institute of Radiation Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg, Germany.


Germline mutations of the retinoblastoma gene (RB1) predispose to both sporadic and radiation-induced osteosarcoma, tumors characterized by high levels of genomic instability, and activation of alternative lengthening of telomeres. Mice with haploinsufficiency of the Rb1 gene in the osteoblastic lineage reiterate the radiation susceptibility to osteosarcoma seen in patients with germline RB1 mutations. We show that the susceptibility is accompanied by an increase in genomic instability, resulting from Rb1-dependent telomere erosion. Radiation exposure did not accelerate the rate of telomere loss but amplified the genomic instability resulting from the dysfunctional telomeres. These findings suggest that telomere maintenance is a noncanonical caretaker function of the retinoblastoma protein, such that its deficiency in cancer may potentiate DNA damage-induced carcinogenesis by promoting formation of chromosomal aberrations, rather than simply by affecting cell-cycle control.

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