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1.  Mutation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene sensitizes cancers to mitotic inhibitor induced cell death 
The retinoblastoma gene Rb is a prototype tumor suppressor, which encodes a protein that is inactivated in a broad range of human cancers through different mechanisms. Rb functions to regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, as well as cell death. Therefore, even though Rb inactivation promotes cancer development, this may also open up certain vulnerabilities of cancers that can potentially be targeted with drug intervention. Based on the assumption that cancers that have mutation, deletion, or rearrangement in the Rb locus represent strong loss of Rb function while cancers with WT Rb on average retain some Rb function, we searched Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer database to identify cancer drugs that are particularly effective to cancers with Rb genomic alterations. Three mitotic inhibitors were identified from this analysis. We further tested the effects of two mitotic inhibitors, Taxol and STLC, on prostate and breast cancer cells. We demonstrate that the Rb status affects cancer cell sensitivity to these mitotic drugs and that the sensitizing effects of Rb are mediated in part by its regulation of the cell cycle checkpoint protein Mad2. Since the mitotic inhibitors identified in our analysis inhibit mitosis through distinct targets, it is possible that the Rb functional status may serve as a general biomarker for cancer sensitivity to mitotic inhibitors. Because the Rb pathway is inactivated in a large number of human cancers, identification of agents that are particularly effective or ineffective based on the Rb status in cancers can potentially be used generally to matching patients with appropriate treatments to achieve better therapeutic outcome.
PMCID: PMC3902231  PMID: 24482737
Drug sensitivity; Rb; retinoblastoma tumor suppressor; Mad2; cell death; mitotic inhibitor; Taxol; S-Trityl-L-cysteine; STLC
2.  Targeting Rb inactivation in cancers by synthetic lethality 
The retinoblastoma protein, pRb, is a key regulator of cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, as well as checkpoint and stress responses. The function of Rb is often inactivated in many types of cancers, a feature that can potentially be used to target this specific subset of cancers. However little is known about how the loss of Rb function can be exploited in cancer therapies. In this review, we overview the functions of Rb, and discuss a genetic screen that led to the finding that inactivation of TSC2 and Rb induces synergistic cell death in both Drosophila developing tissues and human cancer cells. The mechanisms for synergistic cell death involve the accumulation of cellular stress, suggesting that inactivation of TSC2 and chemotherapeutic agents that result in induction of cellular stress can potentially be combined to treat cancers harboring inactivated Rb.
PMCID: PMC3147291  PMID: 21814623
Rb; E2F; TSC2; mTOR; synthetic lethality; cellular stress; ROS
3.  Targeting Rb inactivation in cancers by synthetic lethality 
The retinoblastoma protein, pRb, is a key regulator of cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, as well as checkpoint and stress responses. The function of Rb is often inactivated in many types of cancers, a feature that can potentially be used to target this specific subset of cancers. However little is known about how the loss of Rb function can be exploited in cancer therapies. In this review, we overview the functions of Rb, and discuss a genetic screen that led to the finding that inactivation of TSC2 and Rb induces synergistic cell death in both Drosophila developing tissues and human cancer cells. The mechanisms for synergistic cell death involve the accumulation of cellular stress, suggesting that inactivation of TSC2 and chemotherapeutic agents that result in induction of cellular stress can potentially be combined to treat cancers harboring inactivated Rb.
PMCID: PMC3147291  PMID: 21814623
Rb; E2F; TSC2; mTOR; synthetic lethality; cellular stress; ROS

Results 1-3 (3)