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Review
. 2006 Aug 28;25(38):5277-85.
doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209621.

Retinoblastoma Family Proteins as Key Targets of the Small DNA Virus Oncoproteins

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Review

Retinoblastoma Family Proteins as Key Targets of the Small DNA Virus Oncoproteins

A Felsani et al. Oncogene. .

Abstract

RB, the most investigated tumor suppressor gene, is the founder of the RB family of growth/tumor suppressors, which comprises also p107 (RBL1) and Rb2/p130 (RBL2). The protein products of these genes, pRb, p107 and pRb2/p130, respectively, are also known as 'pocket proteins', because they share a 'pocket' domain responsible for most of the functional interactions characterizing the activity of this family of cellular factors. The interest in these genes and proteins springs essentially from their ability to regulate negatively cell cycle processes and for their ability to slow down or abrogate neoplastic growth. The pocket domain of the RB family proteins is dramatically hampered in its functions by the interference of a number of proteins produced by the small DNA viruses. In the last two decades, the 'viral hypothesis' of cancer has received a considerable renewed impulse from the notion that small DNA viruses, such as Adenovirus, Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Polyomavirus, produce factors that can physically interact with major cellular regulators and alter their function. These viral proteins (oncoproteins) act as multifaceted molecular devices that have evolved to perform very specific tasks. Owing to these features, viral oncoproteins have been widely employed as invaluable experimental tools for the identification of several key families of regulators, particularly of the cell cycle homeostasis. Adenovirus early-region 1A (E1A) is the most widely investigated small DNA tumor virus oncoprotein, but relevant interest in human oncology is raised by the E1A-related E7 protein from transforming HPV strains and by Polyomavirus oncoproteins, particularly large and small T antigens from Simian virus 40, JC virus and BK virus.

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