A Functional Connection between pRB and Transforming Growth Factor β in Growth Inhibition and Mammary Gland Development
Molecular and Cellular Biology
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Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a crucial mediator of breast development, and loss of TGF-beta-induced growth arrest is a hallmark of breast cancer. TGF-beta has been shown to inhibit cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity, which leads to the accumulation of hypophosphorylated pRB. However, unlike other components of TGF-beta cytostatic signaling, pRB is thought to be dispensable for mammary development. Using gene-targeted mice carrying subtle missense changes in pRB (Rb1(DeltaL) and Rb1(NF)), we have discovered that pRB plays a critical role in mammary gland development. In particular, Rb1 mutant female mice have hyperplastic mammary epithelium and defects in nursing due to insensitivity to TGF-beta growth inhibition. In contrast with previous studies that highlighted the inhibition of cyclin/CDK activity by TGF-beta signaling, our experiments revealed that active transcriptional repression of E2F target genes by pRB downstream of CDKs is also a key component of TGF-beta cytostatic signaling. Taken together, our work demonstrates a unique functional connection between pRB and TGF-beta in growth control and mammary gland development.