Polycomb proteins control proliferation and transformation independently of cell cycle checkpoints by regulating DNA replication

Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 14;5:3649. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4649.


The ability of PRC1 and PRC2 to promote proliferation is a main feature that links polycomb (PcG) activity to cancer. PcGs silence the expression of the tumour suppressor locus Ink4a/Arf, whose products positively regulate pRb and p53 functions. Enhanced PcG activity is a frequent feature of human tumours, and PcG inhibition has been proposed as a strategy for cancer treatment. However, the recurrent inactivation of pRb/p53 responses in human cancers raises a question regarding the ability of PcG proteins to affect cellular proliferation independently from this checkpoint. Here we demonstrate that PRCs regulate cellular proliferation and transformation independently of the Ink4a/Arf-pRb-p53 pathway. We provide evidence that PRCs localize at replication forks, and that loss of their function directly affects the progression and symmetry of DNA replication forks. Thus, we have identified a novel activity by which PcGs can regulate cell proliferation independently of major cell cycle restriction checkpoints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Replication / physiology*
  • Female
  • Immunoblotting
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / genetics
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / metabolism*


  • Polycomb-Group Proteins

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE48520