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Cancer Biol Ther. 2007 Mar;6(3):405-12. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

Nuclear orphan receptor TR3/Nur77 mediates melanoma cell apoptosis.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


TR3 was originally recognized for its role in the regulation of cell survival and differentiation, however, it was recently found to be a potent pro-apoptotic protein. In order to characterize the role of TR3 in melanoma cell apoptosis, we studied expression of TR3 in melanoma cell lines and tissues, its subcellular distribution and function during apoptosis using various expression and RNA interference vectors. We found that TR3 was constitutively expressed in both cultured melanoma cells and melanoma tissues. TR3 expression was significantly decreased in advanced melanomas comparing to benign nevi. Over-expression of wild type TR3 or mutant TR3 lacking the DNA binding domain resulted in massive apoptosis in melanoma cells, whereas stable knockdown of TR3 using RNA interference resulted in melanoma cell resistance to apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic agents ATRA and cisplatin. We further demonstrated that apoptosis in melanoma cells was mediated, at least partially, through TR3 mitochondrial translocation but not alteration in TR3 expression levels. Our results suggest that TR3 is an important apoptosis inducing factor in melanoma cells. Decreased expression of TR3 in metastatic melanoma cells may contribute to their reduced apoptotic potential and increased resistance to chemotherapy.

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