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Cancer Res. 2006 May 1;66(9):4952-60.

Gene expression profiling revealed survivin as a target of 3,3'-diindolylmethane-induced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in breast cancer cells.

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Department of Pathology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


The phytochemical indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in cruciferous vegetables, and its major acid-catalyzed reaction product 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) showed anticancer activity mediated by its pleiotropic effects on cell cycle progression, apoptosis, carcinogen bioactivation, and DNA repair. To further elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) by which 3,3'-diindolylmethane exerts its effects on breast cancer cells, we have used microarray gene expression profiling analysis. We found a total of 1,238 genes altered in 3,3'-diindolylmethane-treated cells, among which 550 genes were down-regulated and 688 genes were up-regulated. Clustering analysis showed significant alterations in some genes that are critically involved in the regulation of cell growth, cell cycle, apoptosis, and signal transduction, including down-regulation of survivin. Previous studies have shown that antiapoptotic protein survivin is overexpressed in many human cancers, including breast cancer. However, very little or no information is available regarding the consequence of down-regulation of survivin for cancer therapy. We, therefore, hypothesized that down-regulation of survivin as observed by 3,3'-diindolylmethane could be an important approach for the treatment of breast cancer. We have tested our hypothesis using multiple molecular approaches and found that 3,3'-diindolylmethane inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells by down-regulating survivin, Bcl-2, and cdc25A expression and also caused up-regulation of p21(WAF1) expression, which could be responsible for cell cycle arrest. Down-regulation of survivin by small interfering RNA before 3,3'-diindolylmethane treatment resulted in enhanced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis, whereas overexpression of survivin by cDNA transfection abrogated 3,3'-diindolylmethane-induced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis. These results suggest that targeting survivin by 3,3'-diindolylmethane could be a new and novel approach for the prevention and/or treatment of breast cancer.

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