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J Cell Biochem. 2019 Apr;120(4):6004-6014. doi: 10.1002/jcb.27887. Epub 2018 Nov 18.

Putative tumor suppressor cytoglobin promotes aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligand-mediated triple negative breast cancer cell death.

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Department of Basic Sciences, Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine, Loma Linda University Health School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California.
Department of Dental Education Services, Loma Linda University Health School of Dentistry, Loma Linda, California.
Department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences, Loma Linda University Health School of Pharmacy, Loma Linda, California.
Department of Pharmacy and Health Professions, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.


Nearly 40 000 women die annually from breast cancer in the United States. Clinically available targeted breast cancer therapy is largely ineffective in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), characterized by tumors that lack expression of the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (Her2). TNBC is associated with a poor prognosis. Previous reports show that aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) partial agonist 2-(4-amino-3-methylphenyl)-5-fluorobenzothiazole (5F 203) selectively inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells, including those of the TNBC subtype. We previously demonstrated that 5F 203 induced the expression of putative tumor suppressor gene cytoglobin (CYGB) in breast cancer cells. In the current study, we determined that 5F 203 induces apoptosis and caspase-3 activation in MDA-MB-468 TNBC cells and in T47D ER+ PR + Her2 - breast cancer cells. We also show that caspases and CYGB promote 5F 203-mediated apoptosis in MDA-MB-468 cells. 5F 203 induced lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP) and cathepsin B release in MDA-MB-468 and T47D cells. In addition, silencing CYGB attenuated the ability of 5F 203 to induce caspase-3/-7 activation, proapoptotic gene expression, LMP, and cathepsin B release in MDA-MB-468 cells. Moreover, 5F 203 induced CYGB protein expression, proapoptotic protein expression, and caspase-3 cleavage in MDA-MB-468 cells and in MDA-MB-468 xenograft tumors grown orthotopically in athymic mice. These data provide a basis for the development of AhR ligands with the potential to restore CYGB expression as a novel strategy to treat TNBC.


5F 203; aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR); breast cancer; cell death; cytoglobin (CYGB)

[Available on 2020-04-01]

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