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Mol Carcinog. 2007 Aug;46(8):732-40.

The mechanisms of tumor suppressor effect of glucocorticoid receptor in skin.

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Department of Dermatology, Feinberg Medical School, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


Glucocorticoid hormones exert a tumor suppressor effect in different experimental models, including mouse skin carcinogenesis. The glucocorticoid control of cellular functions is mediated via the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), a well-known transcription factor that regulates genes by DNA-binding dependent transactivation, and DNA-binding independent transrepression through negative interaction with other transcription factors. In this perspective, we analyze known mechanisms that underlie the anticancer effect of GR signaling, including effects on cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis, and angiogenesis. We also discuss a novel mechanism for the tumor suppressor effect of the GR in skin: through the regulation of the number and status of follicular epithelial stem cells (SC), which are a target cell population for skin carcinogenesis. Our studies on keratin5.GR transgenic animals that are resistant to skin carcinogenesis, demonstrated that the GR diminishes the number of follicular epithelial SCs, reduces their proliferative and survival potential and affects the expression of follicular SC "signature" genes. The analysis of global effect of the GR on gene expression in follicular epithelial SCs, basal keratinocytes, and mouse skin tumors provided an unexpected evidence that gene transrepression by GR plays an important role in the maintenance of SC and in inhibition of skin carcinogenesis by this steroid hormone receptor. It is known that antiinflammatory effect of glucocorticoids is chiefly mediated by GR transrepression. Thus, our findings suggest the similarity between the mechanisms of antiinflammatory and anticancer effects of the GR signaling. We discuss the potential clinical applications of our findings in light of drug discovery programs focused on the development of selective GR modulators that preferentially induce GR transrepression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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