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Oncogene. 2000 Mar 2;19(10):1362-8.

Regulation of mda-7 gene expression during human melanoma differentiation.

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Department of Urology, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Induction of irreversible growth arrest and terminal differentiation in human melanoma cells following treatment with recombinant human fibroblast interferon (IFN-beta) and mezerein (MEZ) results in elevated expression of a specific melanoma differentiation associated gene, mda-7. Experiments were conducted to define the mechanism involved in the regulation of mda-7 expression in differentiating human melanoma cells. The mda-7 gene is actively transcribed in uninduced HO-1 human melanoma cells and the rate of transcription of mda-7 is not significantly enhanced by treatment with IFN-beta, MEZ or IFN-beta+MEZ. The high basal activity of the mda-7 promoter in uninduced melanoma cells and the absence of enhancing effect upon treatment with differentiation inducers is corroborated by transfection studies using the promoter region of mda-7 linked to a luciferase reporter gene containing the SV40 polyadenylation signal sequence. RT - PCR analysis detects the presence of low levels of mda-7 transcripts in uninduced and concomitant increases in differentiation inducer treated HO-1 cells. However, steady-state mda-7 mRNA is detected only in IFN-beta+MEZ and to a lesser degree in MEZ treated cells. We show that induction of terminal differentiation of HO-1 cells with IFN-beta+MEZ dramatically increases the half-life of mda-7 mRNA while treatment with cycloheximide results in detectable mda-7 mRNA in control and inducer treated cells. These observations confirm constitutive activity of the mda-7 promoter in HO-1 cells irrespective of differentiation status suggesting posttranscriptional processes as important determinants of mda-7 expression during terminal differentiation. The 3' UTR region of mda-7 contains AU-rich elements (ARE) that contribute to rapid mda-7 mRNA turnover during proliferation and reversible differentiation, a process controlled by a labile protein factor(s). Substitution of the SV40 polyadenylation signal sequence in the luciferase reporter plasmid with the mda-7-ARE-3'-UTR renders the Luciferase message unstable when expressed in proliferating and reversibly differentiated melanoma cells. In contrast, the luciferase message is stabilized when the mda-7-ARE-3'-UTR construct is expressed in terminally differentiated HO-1 cells. These results provide compelling evidence that mda-7 expression during terminal differentiation in human melanoma cells is regulated predominantly at a posttranscriptional level.

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