Ink4a/Arf tumor suppressor does not modulate the degenerative conditions or tumor spectrum of the telomerase-deficient mouse
Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
Genes, Tumor Suppressor
The Rb/p16(Ink4a) and p53/p19Arf tumor suppressor pathways have been linked to diverse cancer-relevant processes, including those governing the cellular responses to telomere dysfunction. In this study, we sought to provide direct genetic evidence of a role for the Ink4a/Arf tumor suppressor gene, encoding both p16(Ink4a) and p19(Arf), in modulating the cellular and tissue phenotypes associated with telomere dysfunction by using the mTerc Ink4a/Arf mouse model. In contrast to the rescue associated with p53 deficiency, Ink4a/Arf deficiency did not attenuate the degenerative phenotypes elicited by telomere dysfunction in the late-generation mTerc-/- mice. Furthermore, in contrast to accelerated cancer onset and increased epithelial cancers of late-generation mTerc-/- p53 mutant mice, late-generation mTerc-/- Ink4a/Arf mutant mice experienced a delayed tumor onset and maintained the lymphoma and sarcoma spectrum. Consistent with the negligible role of Ink4a/Arf in the telomere checkpoint response in vivo, late-generation mTerc-/- Ink4a/Arf-/- tissues show activated p53, and derivative tumor cell lines sustain frequent loss of p53 function, whereas all early generation mTerc Ink4a/Arf-/- tumor cell lines remain intact for p53. In addition, the late-generation mTerc-/- Ink4a/Arf-/- tumors showed activation of the alternative lengthening of telomere mechanism, underscoring the need for adaptation to the presence of telomere dysfunction in the absence of p16(Ink4a) and p19(Arf). These observations highlight the importance of genetic context in dictating whether telomere dysfunction promotes or suppresses age-related degenerative conditions as well as the rate of initiation and type of spontaneous cancers.