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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Feb;20(3):957-70.

Orphan receptor COUP-TF is required for induction of retinoic acid receptor beta, growth inhibition, and apoptosis by retinoic acid in cancer cells.

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  • 1Cancer Research Center, The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Retinoic acid receptor beta (RARbeta) plays a critical role in mediating the anticancer effects of retinoids. Expression of RARbeta is highly induced by retinoic acid (RA) through a RA response element (betaRARE) that is activated by heterodimers of RARs and retinoid X receptors (RXRs). However, RARbeta induction is often lost in cancer cells despite expression of RARs and RXRs. In this study, we provide evidence that orphan receptor COUP-TF is required for induction of RARbeta expression, growth inhibition, and apoptosis by RA in cancer cells. Expression of COUP-TF correlates with RARbeta induction in a variety of cancer cell lines. In addition, stable expression of COUP-TF in COUP-TF-negative cancer cells restores induction of RARbeta expression, growth inhibition, and apoptosis by RA, whereas inhibition of COUP-TF by expression of COUP-TF antisense RNA represses the RA effects. In a transient transfection assay, COUP-TF strongly induced transcriptional activity of the RARbeta promoter in a RA- and RARalpha-dependent manner. By mutation analysis, we demonstrate that the effect of COUP-TF requires its binding to a DR-8 element present in the RARbeta promoter. The binding of COUP-TF to the DR-8 element synergistically increases the RA-dependent RARalpha transactivation function by enhancing the interaction of RARalpha with its coactivator CREB binding protein. These results demonstrate that COUP-TF, by serving as an accessory protein for RARalpha to induce RARbeta expression, plays a critical role in regulating the anticancer activities of retinoids.

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