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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Jun;27(11):3920-35. Epub 2007 Apr 2.

Upregulation of Twist-1 by NF-kappaB blocks cytotoxicity induced by chemotherapeutic drugs.

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  • 1The Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, The University of Chicago, 924 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


NF-kappaB/Rel transcription factors are central to controlling programmed cell death (PCD). Activation of NF-kappaB blocks PCD induced by numerous triggers, including ligand engagement of tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNF-R) family receptors. The protective activity of NF-kappaB is also crucial for oncogenesis and cancer chemoresistance. Downstream of TNF-Rs, this activity of NF-kappaB has been linked to the suppression of reactive oxygen species and the c-Jun-N-terminal-kinase (JNK) cascade. The mechanism by which NF-kappaB inhibits PCD triggered by chemotherapeutic drugs, however, remains poorly understood. To understand this mechanism, we sought to identify unrecognized protective genes that are regulated by NF-kappaB. Using an unbiased screen, we identified the basic-helix-loop-helix factor Twist-1 as a new mediator of the protective function of NF-kappaB. Twist-1 is an evolutionarily conserved target of NF-kappaB, blocks PCD induced by chemotherapeutic drugs and TNF-alpha in NF-kappaB-deficient cells, and is essential to counter this PCD in cancer cells. The protective activity of Twist-1 seemingly halts PCD independently of interference with cytotoxic JNK, p53, and p19(ARF) signaling, suggesting that it mediates a novel protective mechanism activated by NF-kappaB. Indeed, our data indicate that this activity involves a control of inhibitory Bcl-2 phosphorylation. The data also suggest that Twist-1 and -2 play an important role in NF-kappaB-dependent chemoresistance.

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