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Cancer Res. 2006 Feb 15;66(4):2107-15.

Genistein represses telomerase activity via both transcriptional and posttranslational mechanisms in human prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia 20057, USA.


Genistein, the most abundant isoflavone present in soybean has antiproliferative effects on a variety of cancer cells, including prostate cancer. However, the molecular mechanism of antiproliferative effects of genistein is not entirely understood. Because the activation of telomerase is crucial for cells to gain immortality and proliferation ability, we examined the role of genistein in the regulation of telomerase activity in prostate cancer cells. Here, we show that genistein-induced inhibition in cell proliferation is associated with a reduction in telomerase activity. Using reverse transcriptase-PCR and hTERT promoter activity assays, we showed that genistein decreased hTERT expression and transcriptional activity dose-dependently. Using various deleted hTERT promoter constructs, we defined that the hTERT core promoter is enough to observe the genistein-induced repression of hTERT transcriptional activity. Because c-Myc is involved in transcriptional regulation of hTERT, c-Myc expression was examined. A dose-dependent decrease in c-Myc message and proteins was observed with genistein treatment. These results indicate that genistein represses hTERT transcriptional activity via the down-regulation of c-Myc expression. However, genistein-induced repression of hTERT transcriptional activity was not blocked by the mutation of c-Myc at the hTERT promoter, suggesting that additional factors are involved in genistein-dependent repression of telomerase activity. Interestingly, we observed that genistein down-regulates the activation of Akt thereby phosphorylation of hTERT and inhibits its translocation to the nucleus. These results show for the first time that genistein represses telomerase activity in prostate cancer cells not only by repressing hTERT transcriptional activity via c-Myc but also by posttranslational modification of hTERT via Akt.

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