Targeting RB1 Loss in Cancers

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jul 25;13(15):3737. doi: 10.3390/cancers13153737.


Retinoblastoma protein 1 (RB1) is encoded by a tumor suppressor gene that was discovered more than 30 years ago. Almost all mitogenic signals promote cell cycle progression by braking on the function of RB1 protein through mono- and subsequent hyper-phosphorylation mediated by cyclin-CDK complexes. The loss of RB1 function drives tumorigenesis in limited types of malignancies including retinoblastoma and small cell lung cancer. In a majority of human cancers, RB1 function is suppressed during tumor progression through various mechanisms. The latter gives rise to the acquisition of various phenotypes that confer malignant progression. The RB1-targeted molecules involved in such phenotypic changes are good quarries for cancer therapy. Indeed, a variety of novel therapies have been proposed to target RB1 loss. In particular, the inhibition of a number of mitotic kinases appeared to be synthetic lethal with RB1 deficiency. A recent study focusing on a neighboring gene that is often collaterally deleted together with RB1 revealed a pharmacologically targetable vulnerability in RB1-deficient cancers. Here we summarize current understanding on possible therapeutic approaches targeting functional or genomic aberration of RB1 in cancers.

Keywords: E2F; RB1; chromatin instability; collateral lethality; synthetic lethality.

Publication types

  • Review