The cell-cycle regulator Cdk2 suppresses the initiation of a cellular ageing process that is seen as a barrier against tumour progression. The finding, online this week in Nature Cell Biology, suggests that inhibiting Cdk2 may be a useful therapeutic tool for halting the progression of certain types of tumours.
C-myc ― a gene which helps to turn healthy cells into tumour cells ― is frequently deregulated in cancer. Overexpression of c-Myc normally causes activation of Cdk2 and promotes cell-cycle progression. However, Bruno Amati and colleagues find that in connective tissue of mice lacking the Cdk2 gene, c-Myc activation leads to cellular ageing. They also note that when c-Myc was expressed in B-cells, increased cellular ageing and delayed onset of lymphoma was observed in animals lacking Cdk2 when compared to wild-type animals. The team report that inhibition of Cdk2 causes ageing in Myc-overexpressing cells, while neither Cdk2 inhibition or Myc overexpression alone had this effect.