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Mol Cancer. 2009 Aug 5;8:60. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-8-60.

Transcriptional activation of the Lats1 tumor suppressor gene in tumors of CUX1 transgenic mice.

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  • 1Goodman Cancer Center, McGill University, 1160 Pine Avenue West, Room 410, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A3, Canada.



Lats1 (large tumor suppressor 1) codes for a serine/threonine kinase that plays a role in the progression through mitosis. Genetic studies demonstrated that the loss of LATS1 in mouse, and of its ortholog wts (warts) in Drosophila, is associated with increased cancer incidence. There are conflicting reports, however, as to whether overexpression of Lats1 inhibits cell proliferation. CUX1 is a transcription factor that exists in different isoforms as a result of proteolytic processing or alternative transcription initiation. Expression of p110 and p75 CUX1 in transgenic mice increases the susceptibility to cancer in various organs and tissues. In tissue culture, p110 CUX1 was shown to accelerate entry into S phase and stimulate cell proliferation.


Genome-wide location arrays in cell lines of various cell types revealed that Lats1 was a transcriptional target of CUX1. Scanning ChIP analysis confirmed that CUX1 binds to the immediate promoter of Lats1. Expression of Lats1 was reduced in cux1-/- MEFs, whereas it was increased in cells stably or transiently expressing p110 or p75 CUX1. Reporter assays confirmed that the immediate promoter of Lats1 was sufficient to confer transcriptional activation by CUX1. Lats1 was found to be overexpressed in tumors from the mammary gland, uterus and spleen that arise in p110 or p75 CUX1 transgenic mice. In tissue culture, such elevated LATS1 expression did not hinder cell cycle progression in cells overexpressing p110 CUX1.


While inactivation of Lats1/wts in mouse and Drosophila can increase cancer incidence, results from the present study demonstrate that Lats1 is a transcriptional target of CUX1 that can be overexpressed in tumors of various tissue-types. Interestingly, two other studies documented the overexpression of LATS1 in human cervical cancers and basal-like breast cancers. We conclude that, similarly to other genes involved in mitotic checkpoint, cancer can be associated with either loss-of-function or overexpression of Lats1.

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