More than 25 years ago, the first tumor suppressor, identifed RB, was cloned. This seminal discovery led to an intense research effort by the international scientific community culminating in the elucidation of the RB pathway and fundamental mechanisms governing the G1/S transition of the cell cycle.
It is now understood that regulators and mediators of RB function are deregulated in a large set of diverse tumors. During the last 10 years, a number of experiments have shown that the RB pathway controls many biological processes beyond cell cycle entry, including the control of other cell cycle events, cell survival, genome stability, cellular metabolism, cellular differentiation and animal development. While E2F transcription factors are recognized as the major transcriptional hub under RB control, the RB protein binds to more than 300 other proteins, such as tissue-specific transcription factors and chromatin remodeling enzymes. Major challenges in the field include determining the different roles of the multiple RB-containing complexes in cells, exploring novel biological functions for RB and their relationship to tumor suppression and cellular senescence, as well as identifying novel therapeutic approaches to stop or slow the growth of tumor cells with mutations in the RB pathway. In particular, the development of specific inhibitors of CDK4/6 raises the question of mechanisms of response and resistance to these inhibitors as well as the identification of efficient combination therapies.
The success of previous meetings has led to this year’s fifth conference, led by Dr. Gustavo Leone, director of the Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in collaboration with Erik Knudsen, Ph.D. (Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center), Jaqueline Lees, Ph.D. (Koch Institute, MIT) and Julian Sage, Ph.D. (Stanford Medicine). The goal and overall learning objectives of this meeting are to continue the tradition of providing RB researchers with an opportunity to meet and collaborate to promote inter-institutional engagement and to support students and trainees through educational and career development opportunities in this exciting and burgeoning field.