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Cancer Res. 2000 Jun 15;60(12):3271-80.

Unique anti-activator protein-1 activity of retinoic acid receptor beta.

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


The anticancer effects of retinoids are mainly mediated by two classes of nuclear receptors, the retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and retinoid X receptors (RXRs), which are encoded by three distinct genes (alpha, beta, and gamma). Recent studies have demonstrated that RARbeta plays a critical role in mediating anticancer effects of retinoids. However, how RARbeta exerts its potent anticancer effects remains largely unknown. In this study, we investigated anti-Activator Protein-1 (AP-1) activity of RARbeta. In a transient transfection assay, all three RAR subtypes, RARalpha, RARbeta, and RARgamma, could effectively inhibit phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced AP-1 activity and the activity of oncogenes c-Jun and c-Fos on AP-1 containing reporter genes in the presence of retinoic acid (RA). However, RARbeta showed a strong RA-independent inhibition of AP-1 activity, whereas inhibition of AP-1 activity by RARalpha and RARgamma was RA dependent. By using several hybrid receptors that contain either the COOH-terminal portion or the NH2-terminal portion of RARbeta, we demonstrated that the NH2-terminal portion of RARbeta, the A/B domain, was mainly responsible for the RA-independent inhibition of AP-1 activity. This activity was not attributable to constitutive AF-1 activity of RARbeta, because it did not activate several RA response element-containing reporter genes. In addition, inhibition of histone deacetylase activity by trichostatin A did not overcome the inhibitory effect of RARbeta. In cancer cells, stable transfection of RARbeta exhibited strong inhibition of AP-1 activity, even in the absence of RA. Moreover, expression of endogenous AP-1-responsive gene collagenase I was strongly repressed in cancer cells stably transfected with RARbeta. In studying the antitransforming activity of RARbeta, we observed that the growth of breast cancer MDA-MB231 cells in soft agar was significantly repressed in a RA-independent manner when cells were stably transfected with RARbeta but not RARalpha. Together, our results demonstrate that RARbeta may exert its potent anticancer effect in part through its unique anti-AP-1 activity.

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