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Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Dec;25(23):10591-603.

Impaired retinoic acid (RA) signal leads to RARbeta2 epigenetic silencing and RA resistance.

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  • 1Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm & Carlton Streets, C&V Bldg., RM 226, Buffalo, NY 14263.


Resistance to the growth-inhibitory action of retinoic acid (RA), the bioactive derivative of vitamin A, is common in human tumors. One form of RA resistance has been associated with silencing and hypermethylation of the retinoic acid receptor beta2 gene (RARbeta2), an RA-regulated tumor suppressor gene. The presence of an epigenetically silent RARbeta2 correlates with lack of the RA receptor alpha (RARalpha). Normally, RARalpha regulates RARbeta2 transcription by mediating dynamic changes of RARbeta2 chromatin in the presence and absence of RA. Here we show that interfering with RA signal through RARalpha (which was achieved by use of a dominant-negative RARalpha, by downregulation of RARalpha by RNA interference, and by use of RARalpha antagonists) induces an exacerbation of the repressed chromatin status of RARbeta2 and leads to RARbeta2 transcriptional silencing. Further, we demonstrate that RARbeta2 silencing causes resistance to the growth-inhibitory effect of RA. Apparently, RARbeta2 silencing can also occur in the absence of DNA methylation. Conversely, we demonstrate that restoration of RA signal at a silent RARbeta2 through RARalpha leads to RARbeta2 reactivation. This report provides proof of principle that RARbeta2 silencing and RA resistance are consequent to an impaired integration of RA signal at RARbeta2 chromatin.

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