RB, the conductor that orchestrates life, death and differentiation

Oncogene. 2006 Aug 28;25(38):5210-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209612.


The retinoblastoma susceptibility gene was the first tumor suppressor gene identified in humans and the first tumor suppressor gene knocked out by targeted deletion in mice. RB serves as a transducer between the cell cycle machinery and promoter-specific transcription factors, its most documented activity being the repression of the E2F family of transcription factors, which regulate the expression of genes involved in cell proliferation and survival. Recent investigations of RB function suggest that it works as a fundamental regulator to coordinate pathways of cellular growth and differentiation. In this review, we unravel the novel role of an equally important aspect of RB in downregulating the differentiation inhibitor EID-1 during cellular differentiation by teasing apart the signal, which elicit differentiation and limit cell cycle progression, since the molecular mechanisms relating to RB activation of differentiation is much less understood. We review the various roles for RB in differentiation of neurons, muscle, adipose tissue, and the retina. In addition, we provide an update for the current models of the role of RB in cell cycle to entry and exit, extending the view toward chromatin remodeling and expose the dichotomies in the regulation of RB family members. We conclude with a discussion of a novel RB regulatory network, incorporating the dynamic contribution of EID family proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics*
  • Cell Death / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Eye Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Genes, Retinoblastoma*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Retinoblastoma / genetics*
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / genetics
  • Signal Transduction


  • Repressor Proteins
  • Retinoblastoma Protein