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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Compensation by tumor suppressor genes during retinal development in mice and humans.

BACKGROUND: The RB1 gene was the first tumor suppressor gene cloned from humans by studying genetic lesions in families with retinoblastoma. Children who inherit one defective copy of the RB1 gene have an increased susceptibility to retinoblastoma. Several years after the identification of the human RB1 gene, a targeted deletion of Rb was generated in mice. Mice with one defective copy of the Rb gene do not develop retinoblastoma. In this manuscript, we explore the different roles of the Rb family in human and mouse retinal development in order to better understand the species-specific difference in retinoblastoma susceptibility. RESULTS: We found that the Rb family of proteins (Rb, p107 and p130) are expressed in a dynamic manner during mouse retinal development. The primary Rb family member expressed in proliferating embryonic retinal progenitor cells in mice is p107, which is required for appropriate cell cycle exit during retinogenesis. The primary Rb family member expressed in proliferating postnatal retinal progenitor cells is Rb. p130 protein is expressed redundantly with Rb in postmitotic cells of the inner nuclear layer and the ganglion cell layer of the mouse retina. When Rb is inactivated in an acute or chronic manner during mouse retinal development, p107 is upregulated in a compensatory manner. Similarly, when p107 is inactivated in the mouse retina, Rb is upregulated. No changes in p130 expression were seen when p107, Rb or both were inactivated in the developing mouse retina. In the human retina, RB1 was the primary family member expressed throughout development. There was very little if any p107 expressed in the developing human retina. In contrast to the developing mouse retina, when RB1 was acutely inactivated in the developing human fetal retina, p107 was not upregulated in a compensatory manner. CONCLUSION: We propose that intrinsic genetic compensation between Rb and p107 prevents retinoblastoma in Rb- or p107-deficient mice, but this compensation does not occur in humans. Together, these data suggest a model that explains why humans are susceptible to retinoblastoma following RB1 loss, but mice require both Rb and p107 gene inactivation.[1]


  1. Compensation by tumor suppressor genes during retinal development in mice and humans. Donovan, S.L., Schweers, B., Martins, R., Johnson, D., Dyer, M.A. BMC Biol. (2006) [Pubmed]
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