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A Strategy for Direct Chemical Activation of the Retinoblastoma Protein.


The retinoblastoma (Rb) tumor suppressor protein negatively regulates cell proliferation by binding and inhibiting E2F transcription factors. Rb inactivation occurs in cancer cells upon cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) phosphorylation, which induces E2F release and activation of cell cycle genes. We present a strategy for activating phosphorylated Rb with molecules that bind Rb directly and enhance affinity for E2F. We developed a fluorescence polarization assay that can detect the effect of exogenous compounds on modulating affinity of Rb for the E2F transactivation domain. We found that a peptide capable of disrupting the compact inactive Rb conformation increases affinity of the repressive Rb-E2F complex. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of discovering novel molecules that target the cell cycle and proliferation through directly targeting Rb rather than upstream kinase activity.

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