p21 and retinoblastoma protein control the absence of DNA replication in terminally differentiated muscle cells

J Cell Biol. 2000 Apr 17;149(2):281-92. doi: 10.1083/jcb.149.2.281.


During differentiation, skeletal muscle cells withdraw from the cell cycle and fuse into multinucleated myotubes. Unlike quiescent cells, however, these cells cannot be induced to reenter S phase by means of growth factor stimulation. The studies reported here document that both the retinoblastoma protein (Rb) and the cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) inhibitor p21 contribute to this unresponsiveness. We show that the inactivation of Rb and p21 through the binding of the adenovirus E1A protein leads to the induction of DNA replication in differentiated muscle cells. Moreover, inactivation of p21 by E1A results in the restoration of cyclin E-cdk2 activity, a kinase made nonfunctional by the binding of p21 and whose protein levels in differentiated muscle cells is relatively low in amount. We also show that restoration of kinase activity leads to the phosphorylation of Rb but that this in itself is not sufficient for allowing differentiated muscle cells to reenter the cell cycle. All the results obtained are consistent with the fact that Rb is functioning downstream of p21 and that the activities of these two proteins may be linked in sustaining the postmitotic state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenovirus E1A Proteins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • CDC2-CDC28 Kinases*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell-Free System
  • Cyclin E / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cyclins / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Mutagenesis
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism*
  • Transfection


  • Adenovirus E1A Proteins
  • Cdkn1a protein, mouse
  • Cyclin E
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • CDC2-CDC28 Kinases
  • Cdk2 protein, mouse
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases