The INK4/ARF locus encodes the p15INK4B, p16INK4A and p14ARF tumor suppressor proteins whose loss of function is associated with the pathogenesis of many human cancers. Dissecting the relative contribution of these genes to growth control in vivo is complicated by their physical contiguity and the frequency of homozygous deletions that inactivate all three components of this locus. While genetically engineered mouse models provide a rigorous system for elucidating cancer gene function, there is some evidence to suggest there are cross-species differences in regulating tumor biology. Given the prevalence of mouse models in cancer research and the potential contribution of such models to preclinical studies, it is important determine to what degree the function of these critical tumor suppressors is conserved between organisms. In this review, we assess the relative biological roles of INK4A, INK4B and ARF in mice and humans with the aim of determining the faithfulness of mouse models and also of obtaining insights into the pattern of specific tumor types that are associated with germline and somatic mutations at components of this locus. We will discuss 1) the contribution of INK4A, INK4B and ARF to growth control in vitro in a series of cell types, 2) the in vivo phenotypes associated with germline loss of function of this locus and 3) the study of Ink4a and Arf in different cancer-specific mouse models.
Keywords: Human Cancer, ubiquitination, Senescence, Oncogenic Transformation, mouse embryonic fibroblasts
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