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The retinoblastoma (Rb) gene product forms a complex with the cellular transcription factor DRTF1, a property assumed to be important for mediating negative growth control because certain viral oncogenes, such as adenovirus E1a, prevent this interaction and mutant Rb alleles, which have lost the capacity to regulate growth, encode proteins that fail to associate with DRTF1. In this study, we show that the wild-type Rb protein can specifically repress transcription from promoters driven by DRTF1 whereas a naturally occurring mutant Rb protein cannot. Furthermore, Rb-mediated transcriptional repression can be overridden by adenovirus E1a; this requires regions in E1a necessary for cellular transformation. The Rb protein therefore acts in trans to repress the transcriptional activity of DRTF1 whereas adenovirus E1a prevents this interaction and thus maintains DRTF1 in a constitutively active state. The Rb protein and adenovirus E1a therefore have opposite effects on the activity of a common molecular target. Transcriptional repression mediated by the Rb protein and inactivation of repression by the E1a protein are likely to play an important role in mediating their biological effects.


Journal article


EMBO Journal

Publication Date





2603 - 2610