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Cancer Res. 2005 Feb 1;65(3):787-96.

Suppression of melanotroph carcinogenesis leads to accelerated progression of pituitary anterior lobe tumors and medullary thyroid carcinomas in Rb+/- mice.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, USA.


Mice with a single copy of the retinoblastoma gene (Rb(+/-)) develop a syndrome of multiple neuroendocrine neoplasia. They usually succumb to fast-growing, Rb-deficient melanotroph tumors of the pituitary intermediate lobe, which are extremely rare in humans. Thus, full assessment of Rb role in other, more relevant to human pathology, neoplasms is complicated. To prevent melanotroph neoplasia while preserving spontaneous carcinogenesis in other types of cells, we have prepared transgenic mice in which 770-bp fragment of pro-opiomelanocortin promoter directs expression of the human RB gene to melanotrophs (TgPOMC-RB). In three independent lines, transgenic mice crossed to Rb(+/-) background are devoid of melanotroph tumors but develop the usual spectrum of other neoplasms. Interestingly, abrogation of melanotroph carcinogenesis results in accelerated progression of pituitary anterior lobe tumors and medullary thyroid carcinomas. A combination of immunologic tests, cell culture studies, and tumorigenicity assays indicates that alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which is overproduced by melanotroph tumors, attenuates neoplastic progression by decreasing cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis. Taken together, we show that cell lineage-specific complementation of Rb function can be successfully used for refining available models of stochastic carcinogenesis and identify alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone as a potential attenuating factor during progression of neuroendocrine neoplasms.

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