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    The retinoblastoma tumor susceptibility gene, Rb1, is a key regulator of the cell cycle, and mutations in this gene have been found in many human cancers. Prior studies showed that retina-specific knockout of Rb1 in the mouse results in the formation of abnormally large horizontal cells, but the development, fate, and genomic status of these cells remain unknown. In this study, we conditionally inactivate Rb1 in early retinal progenitors and show that the loss of Rb1 leads to the rapid degeneration of most retinal cells except horizontal cells, which persist as giant cells with aberrant centrosome content, DNA damage, and polyploidy/aneuploidy. We observed inappropriate cell cycle entry of Rb1-deficient horizontal cells during the first postnatal weeks, which dropped off abruptly by P30. Despite extensive DNA damage in Rb1-deficient horizontal cells, these cells can still enter mitosis. Adult Rb1-deficient horizontal cells display elevated DNA content (5N-34N) that varied continuously, suggesting the presence of aneuploidy. We also found evidence of supernumerary and disoriented centrosomes in a rare population of mitotic cells in the mutant retinas. Overall our data demonstrate that horizontal cells are a remarkably robust cell type and can survive for months despite extensive DNA damage and elevated genome content.


    Stacy L Donovan, Joseph C Corbo. Retinal horizontal cells lacking Rb1 sustain persistent DNA damage and survive as polyploid giant cells. Molecular biology of the cell. 2012 Nov;23(22):4362-72

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    PMID: 23015754

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