A context-specific role for retinoblastoma protein-dependent negative growth control in suppressing mammary tumorigenesis
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Background: The ability to respond to anti-growth signals is critical to maintain tissue homeostasis and loss of this negative growth control safeguard is considered a hallmark of cancer. Negative growth regulation generally occurs during the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle, yet the redundancy and complexity among components of this regulatory network has made it difficult to discern how negative growth cues protect cells from aberrant proliferation. Methodology/Principal Findings: The retinoblastoma protein (pRB) acts as the final barrier to prevent cells from entering into the cell cycle. By introducing subtle changes in the endogenous mouse Rb1 gene (Rb1ΔL), we have previously shown that interactions at the LXCXE binding cleft are necessary for the proper response to anti-growth signals such as DNA damage and TGF-β, with minimal effects on overall development. This disrupts the balance of pro- and anti-growth signals in mammary epithelium of Rb1ΔL/ΔL mice. Here we show that Rb1ΔL/ΔL mice are more prone to mammary tumors in the Wap-p53R172H transgenic background indicating that negative growth regulation is important for tumor suppression in these mice. In contrast, the same defect in anti-growth control has no impact on Neu-induced mammary tumorigenesis. Conclusions/Significance: Our work demonstrates that negative growth control by pRB acts as a crucial barrier against oncogenic transformation. Strikingly, our data also reveals that this tumor suppressive effect is context-dependent. © 2011 Francis et al.