Small mitochondrial Arf (smArf) protein corrects p53-independent developmental defects of Arf tumor suppressor-deficient mice [Medical Sciences]
The mouse p19Arf (human p14ARF) tumor suppressor protein, encoded in part from an alternative reading frame of the Ink4a (Cdkn2a) gene, inhibits the Mdm2 E3 ubiquitin ligase to activate p53. Arf is not expressed in most normal tissues of young mice but is induced by high thresholds of aberrant hyperproliferative signals, thereby activating p53 in incipient tumor cells that have experienced oncogene activation. The single Arf mRNA encodes two distinct polypeptides, including full-length p19Arf and N-terminally truncated and unstable p15smArf (“small mitochondrial Arf”) initiated from an internal in-frame AUG codon specifying methionine-45. Interactions of p19Arf with Mdm2, or separately with nucleophosmin (NPM, B23) that localizes and stabilizes p19Arf within the nucleolus, require p19Arf N-terminal amino acids that are not present within p15smArf. We have generated mice that produce either smARF alone or M45A-mutated (smArf-deficient) full-length p19Arf proteins. BCR-ABL–expressing pro/pre-B cells producing smArf alone are as oncogenic as their Arf-null counterparts in generating acute lymphoblastic leukemia when infused into unconditioned syngeneic mice. In contrast, smArf-deficient cells from mice of the ArfM45A strain are as resistant as wild-type Arf+/+ cells to comparable oncogenic challenge and do not produce tumors. Apart from being prone to tumor development, Arf-null mice are blind, and their male germ cells exhibit defects in meiotic maturation and sperm production. Although ArfM45A mice manifest the latter defects, smArf alone remarkably rescues both of these p53-independent developmental phenotypes.
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