Regulation of the exit of cells from the cell cycle is important in the development of multicellular organisms and is also implicated in the maintenance of stem cells. Furthermore, defects in cell cycle exit are thought to be a major cause of cancer. However, the mechanisms responsible for regulation of cell cycle exit have remained largely unknown. Fbxw7 is the F-box protein subunit of an SCF-type ubiquitin ligase complex that targets positive regulators of the cell cycle - including cyclin E, c-Myc, Notch and c-Jun - for ubiquitylation and subsequent degradation by the 26S proteasome in order to promote cell cycle exit. Consistent with such a function, mutations of the Fbxw7 gene have been detected in various human malignancies. We have recently generated conventional and conditional Fbxw7 knockout mice and examined stem cells, progenitor cells and differentiated cells in the mutant animals for cell cycle defects. Here we summarize the pleiotropic phenotypes of Fbxw7 deficiency in various cell types including T cells, hematopoietic stem cells and embryonic fibroblasts. Such phenotypes have provided insight into the biological roles of Fbxw7 in cell cycle exit, stem cell maintenance and oncosuppression.
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