Abstract

 

ARF is an alternative reading frame product of the INK4a/ARF locus, which is inactivated in numerous human cancers. ARF is a key regulator of cellular senescence, an irreversible cell growth arrest that suppresses tumor cell growth. It functions by sequestering MDM2, a p53 E3 ligase, in the nucleolus, thus activating p53. Besides MDM2, ARF has numerous other interacting partners that induce either cellular senescence or apoptosis in a p53-independent manner. This further complicates the dynamics of the ARF network. Expression of ARF is frequently disrupted in human cancers, and its cause has been mainly attributed to epigenetic and transcriptional regulation. Vigorous studies on various transcription factors that either positively or negatively regulate ARF transcription have been carried out. However, recent focus on posttranslational modifications, particularly ubiquitination, indicates wider dynamic controls of ARF than previously known. In this review, we discuss the role and dynamic regulation of ARF in senescence and cancer.