The p16(INK4a) tumor suppressor inhibits cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK4 and CDK6). Here we report the isolation of a novel gene, SEI-1, whose product (p34(SEI-1)) appears to antagonize the function of p16(INK4a). Addition of p34(SEI-1) to cyclin D1-CDK4 renders the complex resistant to inhibition by p16(INK4a). Expression of SEI-1 is rapidly induced on addition of serum to quiescent fibroblasts, and ectopic expression of p34(SEI-1) enables fibroblasts to proliferate even in low serum concentrations. p34(SEI-1) seems to act as a growth factor sensor and may facilitate the formation and activation of cyclin D-CDK complexes in the face of inhibitory levels of INK4 proteins.
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