Creation of a retinoblastoma mutant with dominant-negative activity

Laura Lee Whitaker, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The Retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene (RB) plays a role in a variety of human cancers. Experimental analyses have indicated that the protein product of the RB gene (pRb) plays a role in cell cycle regulation, and that this protein is required in cellular differentiation, senescence, and cell survival. pRb function is dependent on its ability to bind to cellular factors. There are multiple protein binding domains within pRb. Mutations within these domains which eliminate the ability of pRb to bind its targets result in loss of function. Loss of pRb function leads to tumorigenesis, although uncontrolled cellular proliferation is not a universal response to pRb inactivation. The ultimate response to the loss of pRb is influenced by both the genetic and epigenetic environments. Targeted disruption of RB in mice results in embryonic lethality, demonstrating the requirement for functional pRb in development. Close examination of various tissues from the embryos which lack wildtype RB shows problems in differentiation as well as showing induction of apoptosis. Although disruption of RB has provided useful information, complete inactivation of a gene precludes the possibility of discovering the functions that separate domains may have within the system. Creation of a dominant negative mutant by domain deletion whose phenotype is expressed in the presence of the wildtype may provide information about the intermediate functions of the protein. In addition, tissue specific targeting of a dominant negative mutant of pRb allows for comprehensive analysis of pRb function in organogenesis. In this thesis, a series of RB deletion mutants were created and tested for dominant negative activity as well as cellular localization. A tissue culture assay for dominant negative activity was developed which screens for the phenotype of apoptosis due to loss of pRb function. Two mutants from this series scored positive for dominant negative activity in this assay. The effect of these mutants within the assay environment can be explained by a model in which pRb acts as a facilitator of cell fate pathway decisions.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Whitaker, Laura Lee, "Creation of a retinoblastoma mutant with dominant-negative activity" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9607476.