The differential impact of p16(INK4a) or p19(ARF) deficiency on cell growth and tumorigenesis

Oncogene. 2004 Jan 15;23(2):379-85. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207074.


Mounting genetic evidence suggests that each product of the Ink4a/Arf locus, p16(INK4a) and p19(ARF), possesses tumor-suppressor activity (Kamijo et al., 1997; Krimpenfort et al., 2001; Sharpless et al., 2001a). We report the generation and characterization of a p19(ARF)-specific knockout allele (p19(ARF)-/-) and direct comparison with mice and derivative cells deficient for p16(INK4a), both p16(INK4a) and p19(ARF), and p53. Like Ink4a/Arf-/- murine embryo fibroblasts (MEFs), p19(ARF)-/- MEFs were highly susceptible to oncogenic transformation, exhibited enhanced subcloning efficiency at low density, and resisted both RAS- and culture-induced growth arrest. In contrast, the biological profile of p16(INK4a)-/- MEFs in these assays more closely resembled that of wild-type cells. In vivo, however, both p19(ARF)-/- and p16(INK4a)-/- animals were significantly more tumor prone than wild-type animals, but each less so than p53-/- or Ink4a/Arf-/- animals, and with differing tumor spectra. These data confirm the predominant role of p19(ARF) over p16(INK4a) in cell culture-based assays of MEFs, yet also underscore the importance of the analysis of tumor suppressors across many cell types within the organism. The cancer-prone conditions of mice singly deficient for either p16(INK4a) or p19(ARF) agree with data derived from human cancer genetics, and reinforce the view that both gene products play significant and nonredundant roles in suppressing malignant transformation in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / deficiency*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Fibroblasts
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genotype
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF / deficiency*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / deficiency
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Cdkn2a protein, mouse
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53