The phenotypic heterogeneity that characterizes human cancers reflects the enormous genetic complexity of the oncogenic process. This complexity can also be seen in mouse models where it is frequently observed that in addition to the initiating genetic alteration, the resulting tumor harbors additional, somatically acquired mutations that affect the tumor phenotype. To investigate the role of genetic interactions in the development of tumors, we have made use of the Eμ-myc model of pre-B and B cell lymphoma. Since various studies point to a functional interaction between Myc and the Rb/E2F pathway, we have investigated the role of E2F activities in the process of Myc-induced lymphomagenesis. Whereas the absence of E2F1 and E2F3 function has no impact on Myc-mediated tumor development, the absence of E2F2 substantially accelerates the time of tumor onset. Conversely, tumor development is delayed by the absence of E2F4. The enhanced early onset of tumors seen in the absence of E2F2 coincides with an expansion of immature B lineage cells that are likely to be the target for Myc oncogenesis. In contrast, the absence of E2F4 mutes the response of the lineage to Myc and there is no expansion of immature B lineage cells. We also find that distinct types of tumors emerge from the Eμ-myc mice, distinguished by different patterns of gene expression, and that the relative proportions of these tumor types are affected by the absence of either E2F2 or E2F4. From these results, we conclude that there are several populations of tumors that arise from the Eμ-myc model, reflecting distinct populations of cells that are susceptible to Myc-mediated oncogenesis and that the proportion of these cell populations is affected by the presence or absence of E2F activities.
The diversity of human cancers reflects the variety of genetic changes that cause tumors to emerge and progress. Even for mice engineered with a specific cancer-causing mutation, the resulting tumors are often divergent, reflecting different additional mutations. We wanted to investigate how activities that work together can collaborate in tumorigenesis. Specifically, we are interested in Myc and the E2F family of proteins, intersecting activities that influence a cell's decision to replicate, rest, or die. We made use of an engineered mouse that develops pre-B and B cell lymphoma initiated by Myc and tested whether the loss of particular E2F family members influences these lymphomas. We found that tumor emergence was accelerated by E2F2 loss and delayed by E2F4 loss. We attributed these results to the finding that the mice lacking E2F2 have a greater proportion than usual of the most susceptible, early-stage B lineage cells and the mice lacking E2F4 have fewer of these cells. Distinct tumor types emerged with their relative proportions influenced by E2F2 and E2F4 status. We conclude that the variety of tumors probably reflect different stages of B lymphoid development that respond to Myc and that E2F proteins can influence the proportions of these different stages.