Elevated Cyclins and Cyclin-dependent Kinase Activity in the Rhabdomyosarcoma Cell Line RD

Erik S. Knudsen, Claudia Pazzagli, Teresa L. Born, Bonnie L. Bertolaet, Karen E. Knudsen, Karen C. Arden, Robert R. Henry, James R. Feramisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


An important early event in the differentiation of skeletal muscle cells is exit from the cell cycle, after which full expression of the muscle phenotype occurs. Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a tumor of skeletal muscle origin, expresses a number of muscle-specific proteins, including MyoD; however, these cells fall to arrest or differentiate when, cultured in differentiation medium (DM). To determine the basis for the failure of RMS cells to differentiate or arrest, we studied the molecular response of the embryonal RMS cell line, RD, to culture in DM. Under these conditions, the retinoblastoma protein (RB) was primarily in the hyperphosphorylated state. This is in contrast to myoblasts cultured in DM, in which the hypophosphorylated form of RB is exclusively present. Measurements of the expression and activities of cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks) cdk2 and cdk4 indicated that RD cells maintained higher levels than do myoblasts, and the activity and abundance of these proteins did not significantly decrease upon culture in DM in RD cells, as they did in myoblasts. Similarly, elevated expression of cyclins D1, E, and A was observed in RD cells. Interestingly, cdk inhibitors are expressed in RD cells, with p16ink4 expression markedly elevated relative to myoblasts. Ectopic expression of p21cip1, p16ink4, or p27kip1 caused a growth arrest of RD cells but not detectable expression of a myogenic marker. Furthermore, a constitutively active RB protein could also inhibit the growth of RD cells without inducing myogenic differentiation. Taken together, these data suggest that the elevated levels of cdk2 and/or cdk4 observed in RD cells contribute to the inability of RD cells to growth arrest when cultured in DM but that these activities alone are not responsible for the failure of RD cells to differentiate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2042-2049
Number of pages8
JournalCancer research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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