Non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is among the deadliest of human cancers. The CDKN2A locus, which houses the INK4a and ARF tumor suppressor genes, is frequently altered in NSCLC. However, the specific role of ARF in pulmonary tumorigenesis remains unclear. KRAS and other oncogenes induce the expression of ARF, thus stabilizing p53 activity and arresting cell proliferation. To address the role of ARF in Kras-driven NSCLC, we compared the susceptibility of NIH/Ola strain wild-type and Arf-knockout mice to urethane-induced lung carcinogenesis. Lung tumor size, malignancy and associated morbidity were significantly increased in Arf(-/-) compared with Arf(+/+) animals at 25 weeks after induction. Pulmonary tumors from Arf-knockout mice exhibited increased cell proliferation and DNA damage compared with wild-type mice. A subgroup of tumors in Arf(-/-) animals presented as dedifferentiated and metastatic, with many characteristics of pulmonary sarcomatoid carcinoma, a neoplasm previously undocumented in mouse models. Our finding of a role for ARF in NSCLC is consistent with the observation that benign adenomas from Arf(+/+) mice robustly expressed ARF, while ARF expression was markedly reduced in malignant adenocarcinomas. ARF expression also frequently colocalized with the expression of p21(CIP1), a transcriptional target of p53, arguing that ARF induces the p53 checkpoint to arrest cell proliferation in vivo. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that induction of ARF is an early response in lung tumorigenesis that mounts a strong barrier against tumor growth and malignant progression.Oncogene advance online publication, 10 June 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.208.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The KRAS gene is commonly mutated in human cancers, rendering the encoded small GTPase constitutively active and oncogenic. This gene has the unusual feature of being enriched for rare codons, which limit protein expression. Here, to determine the effect of the rare codon bias of the KRAS gene on de novo tumorigenesis, we introduced synonymous mutations that converted rare codons into common codons in exon 3 of the Kras gene in mice. Compared with control animals, mice with at least 1 copy of this Krasex3op allele had fewer tumors following carcinogen exposure, and this allele was mutated less often, with weaker oncogenic mutations in these tumors. This reduction in tumorigenesis was attributable to higher expression of the Krasex3op allele, which induced growth arrest when oncogenic and exhibited tumor-suppressive activity when not mutated. Together, our data indicate that the inherent rare codon bias of KRAS plays an integral role in tumorigenesis.
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