Inactivation of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) by phosphorylation triggers uncontrolled cell proliferation. Accordingly, activation of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)/cyclin complexes or downregulation of CDK inhibitors appears as a common event in human cancer. Here we show that Pin1 (protein interacting with NIMA (never in mitosis A)-1), a peptidylprolyl isomerase involved in the control of protein phosphorylation, is an essential mediator for inactivation of the pRb. Our results indicate that Pin1 controls cell proliferation by altering pRb phosphorylation without affecting CDK and protein phosphatase 1 and 2 activity. We demonstrated that Pin1 regulates tumor cell proliferation through direct interaction with the spacer domain of the pRb protein, and allows the interaction between CDK/cyclin complexes and pRb in mid/late G1. Phosphorylation of pRb Ser 608/612 is the crucial motif for Pin1 binding. We propose that Pin1 selectively boosts the switch from hypo-to hyper-phosphorylation of pRb in tumor cells. In addition, we demonstrate that the CDK pathway is responsible for the interaction of Pin1 and pRb. Prospectively, our findings therefore suggest that the synergism among CDK and Pin1 inhibitors holds great promise for targeted pharmacological treatment of cancer patients, with the possibility of reaching high effectiveness at tolerated doses. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.
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