Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Mutations and altered expression of p16INK4 in human cancer.

PMID 7972006


Cell cycle arrest at the G1 checkpoint allows completion of critical macromolecular events prior to S phase. Regulators of the G1 checkpoint include an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase, p16INK4; two tumor-suppressor proteins, p53 and RB (the product of the retinoblastoma-susceptibility gene); and cyclin D1. Neither p16INK4 nor the RB protein was detected in 28 of 29 tumor cell lines from human lung, esophagus, liver, colon, and pancreas. The presence of p16INK4 protein is inversely correlated with detectable RB or cyclin D1 proteins and is not correlated with p53 mutations. Homozygous deletions of p16INK4 were detected in several cell lines, but intragenic mutations of this gene were unusual in either cell lines or primary tumors. Transfection of the p16INK4 cDNA expression vector into carcinoma cells inhibits their colony-forming efficiency and the p16INK4 expressing cells are selected against with continued passage in vitro. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that p16INK4 is a tumor-suppressor protein and that genetic and epigenetic abnormalities in genes controlling the G1 checkpoint can lead to both escape from senescence and cancer formation.