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Oncogene. 1998 Jun 4;16(22):2865-78.

Lack of relationship between CDK activity and G1 cyclin expression in breast cancer cells.

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Cancer Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


The G1 cyclins, cyclin D1 and E, are rate limiting for progression through G1 phase of the cell cycle in breast epithelial cells and are oncogenic when expressed in the mammary epithelium of transgenic mice. These genes are frequently overexpressed in clinical breast cancer where overexpression appears to be associated with specific disease phenotypes, altered responsiveness to therapeutic intervention and patient survival. In order to investigate the functional correlates of cyclin D1 and cyclin E overexpression we employed a panel of normal, immortalized and neoplastic breast epithelial cell lines to examine the relationships between cyclin gene expression, cyclin-CDK complex formation and CDK activity. In agreement with earlier studies cyclin D1 and E expression varied over an approximately tenfold range among the 18 cell lines studied. There was no apparent relationship, however, between cyclin D1 expression and the in vitro activity of its major kinase partner, Cdk4, although MDA-MB-134 cells displayed the highest level of both cyclin D1 expression and Cdk4 activity. Similarly, there was no significant relationship between cyclin E expression and cyclin E-Cdk2 activity. Fractionation of whole cell lysates by gel filtration chromatography revealed that approximately 90% of the cyclin E protein was present in inactive complexes containing the CDK inhibitors p21 and p27. Much of the small fraction of active cyclin E protein was of very high apparent molecular mass, >400 kDa, suggesting that formation of these complexes is a more important determinant of cyclin E-Cdk2 activity than cyclin E abundance. These data suggest that properties of cyclins D1 and E in addition to their ability to activate Cdk4 and Cdk2 may contribute to the effects of overexpression on the breast cancer phenotype.

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