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Cancer Res. 2009 Aug 15;69(16):6445-53. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1001. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Nicotine stimulates PPARbeta/delta expression in human lung carcinoma cells through activation of PI3K/mTOR and suppression of AP-2alpha.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


We previously showed that nicotine stimulates non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cell proliferation through nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)-mediated signals. Activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor beta/delta (PPARbeta/delta) has also been shown to induce NSCLC cell growth. Here, we explore the potential link between nicotine and PPARbeta/delta and report that nicotine increases the expression of PPARbeta/delta protein; this effect was blocked by an alpha7 nAChR antagonist (alpha-bungarotoxin), by alpha7 nAChR short interfering RNA, and by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K; wortmannin and LY294002) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR; rapamycin). In contrast, this effect was enhanced by PUN282987, an alpha7 nAChR agonist. Silencing of PPARbeta/delta attenuated the stimulatory effect of nicotine on cell growth, which was overcome by transfection of an exogenous PPARbeta/delta expression vector. Of note, nicotine induced complex formation between alpha7 nAChR and PPARbeta/delta protein and increased PPARbeta/delta gene promoter activity through inhibition of AP-2alpha as shown by reduced AP-2alpha binding using electrophoretic gel mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. In addition, silencing of Sp1 attenuated the effect of nicotine on PPARbeta/delta. Collectively, our results show that nicotine increases PPARbeta/delta gene expression through alpha7 nAChR-mediated activation of PI3K/mTOR signals that inhibit AP-2alpha protein expression and DNA binding activity to the PPARbeta/delta gene promoter. Sp1 seems to modulate this process. This study unveils a novel mechanism by which nicotine promotes human lung carcinoma cell growth.

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