Off and back-on again: a tumor suppressor's tale

Oncogene. 2018 Jun;37(23):3058-3069. doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0186-3. Epub 2018 Mar 15.


Tumor suppressor genes play critical roles orchestrating anti-cancer programs that are both context dependent and mechanistically diverse. Beyond canonical tumor suppressive programs that control cell division, cell death, and genome stability, unexpected tumor suppressor gene activities that regulate metabolism, immune surveillance, the epigenetic landscape, and others have recently emerged. This diversity underscores the important roles these genes play in maintaining cellular homeostasis to suppress cancer initiation and progression, but also highlights a tremendous challenge in discerning precise context-specific programs of tumor suppression controlled by a given tumor suppressor. Fortunately, the rapid sophistication of genetically engineered mouse models of cancer has begun to shed light on these context-dependent tumor suppressor activities. By using techniques that not only toggle "off" tumor suppressor genes in nascent tumors, but also facilitate the timely restoration of gene function "back-on again" in disease specific contexts, precise mechanisms of tumor suppression can be revealed in an unbiased manner. This review discusses the development and implementation of genetic systems designed to toggle tumor suppressor genes off and back-on again and their potential to uncover the tumor suppressor's tale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Floxuridine / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics*
  • RNA Interference
  • Recombinases / genetics


  • Recombinases
  • Floxuridine
  • doxifluridine