Paradoxical role of Id proteins in regulating tumorigenic potential of lymphoid cells.
A family of transcription factors known as Id proteins, or inhibitor of DNA binding and differentiation, is capable of regulating cell proliferation, survival and differentiation, and is often upregulated in multiple types of tumors. Due to their ability to promote self-renewal, Id proteins have been considered as oncogenes, and potential therapeutic targets in cancer models. On the contrary, certain Id proteins are reported to act as tumor suppressors in the development of Burkitt's lymphoma in humans, and hepatosplenic and innate-like T cell lymphomas in mice. The contexts and mechanisms by which Id proteins can serve in such contradictory roles to determine tumor outcomes are still not well understood. In this review, we explore the roles of Id proteins in lymphocyte development and tumorigenesis, particularly with respect to inhibition of their canonical DNA binding partners known as E proteins. Transcriptional regulation by E proteins, and their antagonism by Id proteins, act as gatekeepers to ensure appropriate lymphocyte development at key checkpoints. We re-examine the derailment of these regulatory mechanisms in lymphocytes that facilitate tumor development. These mechanistic insights can allow better appreciation of the context-dependent roles of Id proteins in cancers and improve considerations for therapy.
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