The retinoblastoma (RB) and p16ink4a tumor suppressors are believed to function in a linear pathway that is functionally inactivated in a large fraction of human cancers. Recent studies have shown that RB plays a critical role in regulating S phase as a means for suppressing aberrant proliferation and controlling genome stability. Here, we demonstrate a novel role for p16ink4a in replication control that is distinct from that of RB. Specifically, p16ink4a disrupts prereplication complex assembly by inhibiting mini-chromosome maintenance (MCM) protein loading in G1, while RB was found to disrupt replication in S phase through attenuation of PCNA function. This influence of p16ink4a on the prereplication complex was dependent on the presence of RB and the downregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity. Strikingly, the inhibition of CDK2 activity was not sufficient to prevent the loading of MCM proteins onto chromatin, which supports a model wherein the composite action of multiple G1 CDK complexes regulates prereplication complex assembly. Additionally, p16ink4a attenuated the levels of the assembly factors Cdt1 and Cdc6. The enforced expression of these two licensing factors was sufficient to restore the assembly of the prereplication complex yet failed to promote S-phase progression due to the continued absence of PCNA function. Combined, these data reveal that RB and p16ink4a function through distinct pathways to inhibit the replication machinery and provide evidence that stepwise regulation of CDK activity interfaces with the replication machinery at two discrete execution points.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology