The INK4a/ARF locus encodes two cell cycle regulatory proteins, the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p16(INK4a), and the p53 activator, p14(ARF). Germline mutations in this locus are associated with melanoma susceptibility in 20-40% of multiple case melanoma families. Many of these mutations specifically impair p16(INK4a), whereas mutations uniquely targeting p14(ARF) are rare. Nevertheless, the importance of p14(ARF) has not been excluded because more than 40% of INK4a/ARF alterations affect p16(INK4a) and p14(ARF). We now report that p14(ARF) is functionally impaired in melanoma kindreds carrying INK4a/ARF mutations. Of the seven INK4a/ARF mutations tested, three altered the subcellular distribution of p14(ARF) and diminished the ability of p14(ARF) to activate the p53 pathway. This work establishes the importance of p14(ARF) in melanoma predisposition.
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