Discrete signaling pathways participate in RB-dependent responses to chemotherapeutic agents

Christopher N. Mayhew, Lisa M. Perkin, Xiaoping Zhang, Julien Sage, Tyler Jacks, Erik S. Knudsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The retinoblastoma (RB) tumor suppressor has been proposed to function as a key mediator of cell cycle checkpoints induced by chemotherapeutic agents. However, these prior studies have relied on embryonic fibroblasts harboring chronic loss of RB, a condition under which compensation of RB functions is known to occur. Here we utilized primary adult fibroblasts derived from mice harboring loxP sites tanking exon 3 of the Rb gene to delineate the action of RB in the chemotherapeutic response. In this system we find that targeted disruption of Rb leads to little overt change in cell cycle distribution. However, these cells exhibited deregulation of RB/E2F target genes and became aneuploid following culture in the absence of RB. When challenged with both DNA damaging and antimetabolite chemotherapeutics, RB was required for primary adult cells to undergo DNA damage checkpoint responses and loss of RB resulted in enhanced aneuploidy following challenge. In contrast, following spontaneous immortalization and the loss of functional p53 signaling, the antimetabolite 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) failed to induce arrest despite the presence of RB. In these immortal cultures RB/E2F targets were deregulated in a complex, gene-specific manner and RB was required for the checkpoint response to camptothecin (CPT). Mechanistic analyses of the checkpoint responses in primary cells indicated that loss of RB leads to increased p53 signaling and decreased viability following both CPT and 5-FU treatment. However, the mechanism through which these agents act to facilitate cell cycle inhibition through RB were distinct. These studies underscore the critical role of RB in DNA-damage checkpoint signaling and demonstrate that RB mediates chemotherapeutic-induced cell cycle inhibition in adult fibroblasts by distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4107-4120
Number of pages14
Issue number23
StatePublished - May 20 2004


  • Cell cycle checkpoints
  • Chemotherapeutics
  • Immortalization
  • Retinoblastoma tumor suppressor
  • Thymidylate synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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