Gene Summary

Gene:JUN; jun proto-oncogene
Aliases: AP1, AP-1, c-Jun
Summary:This gene is the putative transforming gene of avian sarcoma virus 17. It encodes a protein which is highly similar to the viral protein, and which interacts directly with specific target DNA sequences to regulate gene expression. This gene is intronless and is mapped to 1p32-p31, a chromosomal region involved in both translocations and deletions in human malignancies. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:transcription factor AP-1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 06 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (75)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (49)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 06 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • JUN
  • Promoter Regions
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Receptors, CCR4
  • Breast Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Western Blotting
  • Lung Cancer
  • Cell Survival
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Transcription
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor D
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mutation
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta Receptors
  • Skin Cancer
  • Vertebrates
  • p53 Protein
  • Liver Cancer
  • Protein Binding
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Down-Regulation
  • Messenger RNA
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • RNA Interference
  • Chromosome 1
  • Cell Movement
  • Apoptosis
  • Phosphorylation
  • p300-CBP Transcription Factors
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
Tag cloud generated 06 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: JUN (cancer-related)

Lee AS, Kranzusch PJ, Cate JH
eIF3 targets cell-proliferation messenger RNAs for translational activation or repression.
Nature. 2015; 522(7554):111-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Regulation of protein synthesis is fundamental for all aspects of eukaryotic biology by controlling development, homeostasis and stress responses. The 13-subunit, 800-kilodalton eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) organizes initiation factor and ribosome interactions required for productive translation. However, current understanding of eIF3 function does not explain genetic evidence correlating eIF3 deregulation with tissue-specific cancers and developmental defects. Here we report the genome-wide discovery of human transcripts that interact with eIF3 using photoactivatable ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (PAR-CLIP). eIF3 binds to a highly specific program of messenger RNAs involved in cell growth control processes, including cell cycling, differentiation and apoptosis, via the mRNA 5' untranslated region. Surprisingly, functional analysis of the interaction between eIF3 and two mRNAs encoding the cell proliferation regulators c-JUN and BTG1 reveals that eIF3 uses different modes of RNA stem-loop binding to exert either translational activation or repression. Our findings illuminate a new role for eIF3 in governing a specialized repertoire of gene expression and suggest that binding of eIF3 to specific mRNAs could be targeted to control carcinogenesis.

Lin X, Fang Q, Chen S, et al.
Heme oxygenase-1 suppresses the apoptosis of acute myeloid leukemia cells via the JNK/c-JUN signaling pathway.
Leuk Res. 2015; 39(5):544-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
There are few studies on the correlation between heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We found that HO-1 was aberrantly overexpressed in the majority of AML patients, especially in patients with acute monocytic leukemia (M5) and leukocytosis, and inhibited the apoptosis of HL-60 and U937 cells. Moreover, silencing HO-1 prolonged the survival of xenograft mouse models. Further studies demonstrated that HO-1 suppressed the apoptosis of AML cells through activating the JNK/c-JUN signaling pathway. These data indicate a molecular role of HO-1 in inhibiting cell apoptosis, allowing it to be a potential target for treating AML.

Birkenheuer CH, Brewster CD, Quackenbush SL, Rovnak J
Retroviral cyclin controls cyclin-dependent kinase 8-mediated transcription elongation and reinitiation.
J Virol. 2015; 89(10):5450-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/11/2015 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Walleye dermal sarcoma virus (WDSV) infection is associated with the seasonal development and regression of walleye dermal sarcoma. Previous work showed that the retroviral cyclin (RV-cyclin), encoded by WDSV, has separable cyclin box and transcription activation domains. It binds to cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8) and enhances its kinase activity. CDK8 is evolutionarily conserved and is frequently overexpressed in human cancers. It is normally activated by cyclin C and is required for transcription elongation of the serum response genes (immediate early genes [IEGs]) FOS, EGR1, and cJUN. The IEGs drive cell proliferation, and their expression is brief and highly regulated. Here we show that constitutive expression of RV-cyclin in the HCT116 colon cancer cell line significantly increases the level of IEG expression in response to serum stimulation. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) and nuclear run-on assays provide evidence that RV-cyclin does not alter the initiation of IEG transcription but does enhance the overall rate of transcription elongation and maintains transcription reinitiation. RV-cyclin does not increase activating phosphorylation events in the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway and does not inhibit decay of IEG mRNAs. At the EGR1 gene locus, RV-cyclin increases and maintains RNA polymerase II (Pol II) occupancy after serum stimulation, in conjunction with increased and extended EGR1 gene expression. The RV-cyclin increases CDK8 occupancy at the EGR1 gene locus before and after serum stimulation. Both of RV-cyclin's functional domains, i.e., the cyclin box and the activation domain, are necessary for the overall enhancement of IEG expression. RV-cyclin presents a novel and ancient mechanism of retrovirus-induced oncogenesis.
IMPORTANCE: The data reported here are important to both virology and cancer biology. The novel mechanism pinpoints CDK8 in the development of walleye dermal sarcoma and sheds light on CDK8's role in many human cancers. CDK8 controls expression from highly regulated genes, including the interferon-stimulated genes. Its function is likely the target of many viral interferon-resistance mechanisms. CDK8 also controls cellular responses to metabolic stimuli, stress, and hypoxia, in addition to the serum response. The retroviral cyclin (RV-cyclin) represents a highly selected probe of CDK8 function. RV-cyclin does not control CDK8 specificity but instead enhances CDK8's effects on regulated genes, an important distinction for its use to delineate natural CDK8 targets. The outcomes of this research are applicable to investigations of normal and abnormal CDK8 functions. The mechanisms defined here will contribute directly to the dermal sarcoma model in fish and clarify an important path for oncogenesis and innate resistance to viruses.

Changchien JJ, Chen YJ, Huang CH, et al.
Quinacrine induces apoptosis in human leukemia K562 cells via p38 MAPK-elicited BCL2 down-regulation and suppression of ERK/c-Jun-mediated BCL2L1 expression.
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2015; 284(1):33-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although previous studies have revealed the anti-cancer activity of quinacrine, its effect on leukemia is not clearly resolved. We sought to explore the cytotoxic effect and mechanism of quinacrine action in human leukemia K562 cells. Quinacrine induced K562 cell apoptosis accompanied with ROS generation, mitochondrial depolarization, and down-regulation of BCL2L1 and BCL2. Upon exposure to quinacrine, ROS-mediated p38 MAPK activation and ERK inactivation were observed in K562 cells. Quinacrine-induced cell death and mitochondrial depolarization were suppressed by the p38MAPK inhibitor SB202190 and constitutively active MEK1 over-expression. Activation of p38 MAPK was shown to promote BCL2 degradation. Further, ERK inactivation suppressed c-Jun-mediated transcriptional expression of BCL2L1. Over-expression of BCL2L1 and BCL2 attenuated quinacrine-evoked mitochondrial depolarization and rescued the viability of quinacrine-treated cells. Taken together, our data indicate that quinacrine-induced K562 cell apoptosis is mediated through mitochondrial alterations triggered by p38 MAPK-mediated BCL2 down-regulation and suppression of ERK/c-Jun-mediated BCL2L1 expression.

Blonska M, Zhu Y, Chuang HH, et al.
Jun-regulated genes promote interaction of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with the microenvironment.
Blood. 2015; 125(6):981-91 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/02/2016 Related Publications
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive disease with a high proliferation rate. However, the molecular and genetic features that drive the aggressive clinical behavior of DLBCL are not fully defined. Here, we have demonstrated that activated Jun signaling is a frequent event in DLBCL that promotes dissemination of malignant cells. Downregulation of Jun dramatically reduces lymphoma cell adhesion to extracellular matrix proteins, subcutaneous tumor size in nude mice, and invasive behavior, including bone marrow infiltration and interaction with bone marrow stromal cells. Furthermore, using a combination of RNA interference and gene expression profiling, we identified Jun target genes that are associated with disseminated lymphoma. Among them, ITGAV, FoxC1, and CX3CR1 are significantly enriched in patients with 2 or more extranodal sites. Our results point to activated Jun signaling as a major driver of the aggressive phenotype of DLBCL.

Zhang Y, Shen WL, Shi ML, et al.
Involvement of aberrant miR-139/Jun feedback loop in human gastric cancer.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015; 1853(2):481-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Accumulating evidence indicates that some miRNAs could form feedback loops with their targets to fine-tune tissue homeostasis, while disruption of these loops constitutes an essential step towards human tumorigenesis. In this study, we report the identification of a novel negative feedback loop formed between miR-139 and its oncogenic target Jun. In this loop, miR-139 could inhibit Jun expression by targeting a conserved site on its 3'-UTR, whereas Jun could induce miR-139 expression in a dose dependent manner through a distant upstream regulatory element. Interestingly, aberration in this loop was found in human gastric cancer, where miR-139 was down-regulated and inversely correlated with Jun expression. Further functional analysis showed that restored expression of miR-139 in gastric cancer cells significantly induces apoptosis, and inhibits cell migration and proliferation as well as tumour growth through targeting Jun. Thus, our data strongly suggests a role of aberrant miR-139/Jun negative feedback loop in the development of human gastric cancer and miR-139 as a potential therapeutic target for gastric cancer. Given that miR-139 and Jun are deregulated in many cancers, our findings here might have broader implication in other types of human cancers.

Nishinaka T, Miura T, Sakou M, et al.
Down-regulation of aldo-keto reductase AKR1B10 gene expression by a phorbol ester via the ERK/c-Jun signaling pathway.
Chem Biol Interact. 2015; 234:274-81 [PubMed] Related Publications
AKR1B10 is a human member of the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) superfamily, and is considered to be a tumor biomarker because its expression is known to be significantly induced in the cells of various cancers such as lung non-small-cell carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of its gene remain unclear. In the present study, we demonstrated that the phorbol ester, 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate (TPA), down-regulated the expression of the AKR1B10 gene in the human lung cancer cell line, A549. The treatment of A549 cells with TPA for 24h significantly reduced the mRNA levels, protein levels, and promoter activity of AKR1B10 as well as the growth of A549 cells. TPA induced the phosphorylation of the MAP kinase, ERK, and U0126, an inhibitor of the MAP kinase kinase, MEK1, blocked the down-regulation of AKR1B10 by TPA, indicating that the MAP kinase ERK plays a role in regulating the expression of AKR1B10. TPA also induced c-jun gene expression in an ERK-dependent manner. The co-introduction of the c-Jun protein resulted in a decrease in the mRNA levels and promoter activity of AKR1B10 as well as A549 cell proliferation. These results suggested that the ERK/c-Jun signaling pathway may play an important role in the TPA-triggered down-regulation of AKR1B10 gene expression.

Kiss I, Unger C, Huu CN, et al.
Lobatin B inhibits NPM/ALK and NF-κB attenuating anaplastic-large-cell-lymphomagenesis and lymphendothelial tumour intravasation.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 356(2 Pt B):994-1006 [PubMed] Related Publications
An apolar extract of the traditional medicinal plant Neurolaena lobata inhibited the expression of the NPM/ALK chimera, which is causal for the majority of anaplastic large cell lymphomas (ALCLs). Therefore, an active principle of the extract, the furanoheliangolide sesquiterpene lactone lobatin B, was isolated and tested regarding the inhibition of ALCL expansion and tumour cell intravasation through the lymphendothelium. ALCL cell lines, HL-60 cells and PBMCs were treated with plant compounds and the ALK inhibitor TAE-684 to measure mitochondrial activity, proliferation and cell cycle progression and to correlate the results with protein- and mRNA-expression of selected gene products. Several endpoints indicative for cell death were analysed after lobatin B treatment. Tumour cell intravasation through lymphendothelial monolayers was measured and potential causal mechanisms were investigated analysing NF-κB- and cytochrome P450 activity, and 12(S)-HETE production. Lobatin B inhibited the expression of NPM/ALK, JunB and PDGF-Rβ, and attenuated proliferation of ALCL cells by arresting them in late M phase. Mitochondrial activity remained largely unaffected upon lobatin B treatment. Nevertheless, caspase 3 became activated in ALCL cells. Also HL-60 cell proliferation was attenuated whereas PBMCs of healthy donors were not affected by lobatin B. Additionally, tumour cell intravasation, which partly depends on NF-κB, was significantly suppressed by lobatin B most likely due to its NF-κB-inhibitory property. Lobatin B, which was isolated from a plant used in ethnomedicine, targets malignant cells by at least two properties: I) inhibition of NPM/ALK, thereby providing high specificity in combating this most prevalent fusion protein occurring in ALCL; II) inhibition of NF-κB, thereby not affecting normal cells with low constitutive NF-κB activity. This property also inhibits tumour cell intravasation into the lymphatic system and may provide an option to manage this early step of metastatic progression.

Hefetz-Sela S, Stein I, Klieger Y, et al.
Acquisition of an immunosuppressive protumorigenic macrophage phenotype depending on c-Jun phosphorylation.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(49):17582-7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/02/2016 Related Publications
The inflamed tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in tumorigenesis. However, the mechanisms through which immune cells, particularly macrophages, promote tumorigenesis have only been partially elucidated, and the full scope of signaling pathways supplying macrophages with protumorigenic phenotypes still remain largely unknown. Here we report that germ-line absence of c-Jun N-terminal phosphorylation at serines 63 and 73 impedes inflammation-associated hepatocarcinogenesis, yet deleting c-Jun only in hepatocytes does not inhibit hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) formation. Moreover, in human HCC-bearing livers, c-Jun phosphorylation is found in inflammatory cells, whereas it is mostly absent from malignant hepatocytes. Interestingly, macrophages in livers of mice with chronic hepatitis gradually switch their phenotype along the course of disease. Macrophage phenotype and density are dictated by c-Jun phosphorylation, in vitro and in vivo. Transition of macrophage phenotype, from antitumorigenic to protumorigenic, occurs before tumorigenesis, resulting in the production of various chemokines, including chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 17 (CCL17) and CCL22. Such signals, emanating from the liver microenvironment, direct the recruitment of regulatory T cells, which are known to facilitate HCC growth. Our findings identify c-Jun phosphorylation as a key mediator of macrophage education and point to the recruitment of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells as a possible protumorigenic mechanism.

Kim JB, Park SY, Kim HR, et al.
JNK signaling in hepatocarcinoma cells is associated with the side population upon treatment with anticancer drugs.
Mol Med Rep. 2015; 11(1):263-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Liver cancer is one of the most drug-resistant cancer types, and cancer stem cells are related to drug resistance. c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling is involved in drug resistance, and the side population of cells (SP cells) can be used as a model to study liver cancer stem cells. We sought to evaluate the relationship between SP cells and JNK signaling in hepatocarcinoma cells. For this purpose, we examined cell proliferation and the SP cell ratio following treatment of Huh7 cells with the anticancer drugs 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and paclitaxel. The expression of phospho-stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK)/JNK in the treated cells was evaluated using immunoblotting. 5-FU and paclitaxel treatment increased the number of SP cells and JNK phosphorylation, and decreased cell survival. Huh7 and HepG2 cells were also treated with SP600125, a JNK inhibitor, to study the relationship between SP cells and JNK signaling. The increase in the number of SP cells and the SAPK/JNK and c-Jun phosphorylation was reverted by SP600125 treatment in these cells. We also used immunohistochemistry and showed that SAPK/JNK and c-Jun phosphorylation are increased in hepatocarcinoma tissues. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the number of SP cells and SAPK/JNK phosphorylation are increased upon treatment with anticancer drugs, and that this increase is blocked by inhibition of JNK signaling. These findings suggest that drug resistance in liver cancer may involve an increase in the number of SP cells following JNK activation.

Selvaraj N, Budka JA, Ferris MW, et al.
Extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling regulates the opposing roles of JUN family transcription factors at ETS/AP-1 sites and in cell migration.
Mol Cell Biol. 2015; 35(1):88-100 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/02/2016 Related Publications
JUN transcription factors bind DNA as part of the AP-1 complex, regulate many cellular processes, and play a key role in oncogenesis. The three JUN proteins (c-JUN, JUNB, and JUND) can have both redundant and unique functions depending on the biological phenotype and cell type assayed. Mechanisms that allow this dynamic switching between overlapping and distinct functions are unclear. Here we demonstrate that JUND has a role in prostate cell migration that is the opposite of c-JUN's and JUNB's. RNA sequencing reveals that opposing regulation by c-JUN and JUND defines a subset of AP-1 target genes with cell migration roles. cis-regulatory elements for only this subset of targets were enriched for ETS factor binding, indicating a specificity mechanism. Interestingly, the function of c-JUN and JUND in prostate cell migration switched when we compared cells with an inactive versus an active RAS/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway. We show that this switch is due to phosphorylation and activation of JUND by ERK. Thus, the ETS/AP-1 sequence defines a unique gene expression program regulated by the relative levels of JUN proteins and RAS/ERK signaling. This work provides a rationale for how transcription factors can have distinct roles depending on the signaling status and the biological function in question.

Zou YM, Hu GY, Zhao XQ, et al.
Hypoxia-induced autophagy contributes to radioresistance via c-Jun-mediated Beclin1 expression in lung cancer cells.
J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 2014; 34(5):761-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Reduced radiosensitivity of lung cancer cells represents a pivotal obstacle in clinical oncology. The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α plays a crucial role in radiosensitivity, but the detailed mechanisms remain elusive. A relationship has been suggested to exist between hypoxia and autophagy recently. In the current study, we studied the effect of hypoxia-induced autophagy on radioresistance in lung cancer cell lines. A549 and H1299 cells were cultured under normoxia or hypoxia, followed by irradiation at dosage ranging from 0 to 8 Gy. Clonogenic assay was performed to calculate surviving fraction. EGFP-LC3 plasmid was stably transfected into cells to monitor autophagic processes. Western blotting was used to evaluate the protein expression levels of HIF-1α, c-Jun, phosphorylated c-Jun, Beclin 1, LC3 and p62. The mRNA levels of Beclin 1 were detected by qRT-PCR. We found that under hypoxia, both A549 and H1299 cells were radio-resistant compared with normoxia. Hypoxia-induced elevated HIF-1α protein expression preferentially triggered autophagy, accompanied by LC3 induction, EGFP-LC3 puncta and p62 degradation. In the meantime, HIF-1α increased downstream c-Jun phosphorylation, which in turn upregulated Beclin 1 mRNA and protein expression. The upregulation of Beclin 1 expression, instead of HIF-1α, could be blocked by SP600125 (a specific inhibitor of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase), followed by suppression of autophagy. Under hypoxia, combined treatment of irradiation and chloroquine (a potent autophagy inhibitor) significantly decreased the survival potential of lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, hypoxia-induced autophagy through evaluating Beclin1 expression may be considered as a target to reverse the radioresistance in cancer cells.

Zhu J, Zhang J, Huang H, et al.
Crucial role of c-Jun phosphorylation at Ser63/73 mediated by PHLPP protein degradation in the cheliensisin a inhibition of cell transformation.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014; 7(12):1270-81 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Cheliensisin A (Chel A), as a novel styryl-lactone isolated from Goniothalamus cheliensis Hu, has been demonstrated to have an inhibition of EGF-induced Cl41 cell transformation via stabilizing p53 protein in a Chk1-dependent manner, suggesting its chemopreventive activity in our previous studies. However, its underlying molecular mechanisms have not been fully characterized yet. In the current study, we found that Chel A treatment could increase c-Jun protein phosphorylation and activation, whereas the inhibition of c-Jun phosphorylation, by ectopic expression of a dominant-negative mutant of c-Jun, TAM67, reversed the Chel A inhibition of EGF-induced cell transformation and impaired Chel A induction of p53 protein and apoptosis. Moreover, our results indicated that Chel A treatment led to a PHLPP downregulation by promoting PHLPP protein degradation. We also found that PHLPP could interact with and bind to c-Jun protein, whereas ectopic PHLPP expression blocked c-Jun activation, p53 protein and apoptotic induction by Chel A, and further reversed the Chel A inhibition of EGF-induced cell transformation. With the findings, we have demonstrated that Chel A treatment promotes a PHLPP protein degradation, which can bind to c-Jun and mediates c-Jun phosphorylation, and further leading to p53 protein induction, apoptotic responses, subsequently resulting in cell transformation inhibition and chemopreventive activity of Chel A.

Shyu PT, Oyong GG, Cabrera EC
Cytotoxicity of probiotics from Philippine commercial dairy products on cancer cells and the effect on expression of cfos and cjun early apoptotic-promoting genes and Interleukin-1 β and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α proinflammatory cytokine genes.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:491740 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
This study determined cytotoxicity of probiotic Lactobacillus spp. from Philippine dairy products on cancer cells and normal fibroblasts and their effects on expression of early apoptotic-promoting cfos, cjun and proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β, TNF-α genes. Cultures were from Yakult, Bear Brand Probiotic Drink, Nido3+ Powdered Milk. Filter-sterilized supernatants from cultures of Lactobacillus spp. were evaluated for cytotoxicity to colon cancer cells (HT-29 and HCT116), leukemia cells (THP-1), and normal human dermal fibroblasts (HDFn) using PrestoBlue. Bleomycin was the positive control. Absolute quantification of transcript levels was conducted using qRT-PCR. Cytotoxicity index profiles on HDFn, THP-1 of all probiotic supernatants and negative controls suggest nontoxicity to the cells when compared to bleomycin, whereas all probiotic supernatants were found to be cytotoxic to HT-29 and HCT-116 colon cancer cell lines. Expression of cfos, cjun transcripts was significantly upregulated in HT-29 and HCT116 cells treated with probiotic supernatants compared to untreated baseline levels (P < 0.05). Expression of IL-1β and TNF-α by lipopolysaccharide-treated macrophages was significantly downregulated in cells with probiotic supernatants compared to those exposed to MRS medium (P < 0.05). Results provide strong support for the role of Lactobacillus spp. studied in anticancer therapy and in prevention of inflammation that may act as precursor to carcinogenesis.

Zhang Y, Baysac KC, Yee LF, et al.
Elevated DDX21 regulates c-Jun activity and rRNA processing in human breast cancers.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(5):449 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The DDX21 RNA helicase has been shown to be a nucleolar and nuclear protein involved in ribosome RNA processing and AP-1 transcription. DDX21 is highly expressed in colon cancer, lymphomas, and some breast cancers, but little is known about how DDX21 might promote tumorigenesis.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was performed on a breast cancer tissue array of 187 patients. In order to study the subcellular localization of DDX21 in both tumor tissue and tumor cell lines, indirect immunofluorescence was applied. The effect of DDX21 knockdown was measured by cellular apoptosis, rRNA processing assays, soft agar growth and mouse xenograft imaging. AP-1 transcriptional activity was analyzed with a luciferase reporter and bioluminescence imaging, as well as qRT-PCR analysis of downstream target, cyclin D1, to determine the mechanism of action for DDX21 in breast tumorigenesis.
RESULTS: Herein, we show that DDX21 is highly expressed in breast cancer tissues and established cell lines. A significant number of mammary tumor tissues and established breast cancer cell lines exhibit nuclear but not nucleolar localization of DDX21. The protein expression level of DDX21 correlates with cell proliferation rate and is markedly induced by EGF signaling. Mechanistically, DDX21 is required for the phosphorylation of c-Jun on Ser73 and DDX21 deficiency markedly reduces the transcriptional activity of AP-1. Additionally, DDX21 promotes rRNA processing in multiple breast cancer cell lines. Tumor cells expressing high levels of endogenous DDX21 undergo apoptosis after acute DDX21 knockdown, resulting in significant reduction of tumorigenicity in vitro and in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that DDX21 expression in breast cancer cells can promote AP-1 activity and rRNA processing, and thus, promote tumorigenesis by two independent mechanisms. DDX21 could serve as a marker for a subset of breast cancer patients with higher proliferation potential and may be used as a therapeutic target for a subset of breast cancer patients.

Liu J, Yan J, Zhou C, et al.
miR-1285-3p acts as a potential tumor suppressor miRNA via downregulating JUN expression in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(1):219-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
In the world, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and most lethal cancers. Currently, standard therapy for unresectable HCC is a local-regional therapy with transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE). In this study, we sought to assess whether plasma circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) can be used to predict the prognosis of HCC patients receiving the TACE treatment. Firstly, we systematically examined TACE therapeutic effectiveness-related circulating miRNAs through miRNA Profiling Chips. As a result, we identified 19 circulating miRNAs to be significantly differentially expressed between the TACE-response group and the TACE-nonresponse group. In the second stage, we performed quantitative analyses of these candidate miRNAs in additional HCC patients treated with TACE and validated two of the aforementioned 19 miRNAs (miR-1285-3p and miR-4741) as candidate biomarkers for predicting prognosis of TACE. Interestingly, we found that miR-1285-3p could directly repress JUN oncogene expression in HCC cells, indicating miR-1285-3p could act as a potential tumor suppressor. In conclusion, our data indicate that circulating miR-1285-3p and miR-4741 was predictive of response to TACE therapy in HCC.

Wang F, Ke ZF, Wang R, et al.
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) promotes osteosarcoma cell invasion through the JNK/c-Jun/MMP-2 pathway.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 452(4):933-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant bone tumour in children and adolescents and is characterised by high malignant and metastatic potentials. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this invasiveness remains unclear. In this study, we determined that PD98059 and SP600125, the two mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family inhibitors, decreased the osteosarcoma cell U2OS-AEG-1 migration and invasion that was enhanced by astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) in an in vitro wound-healing and Matrigel invasion assay independently of cell viability. These findings indicate that AEG-1 promoted osteosarcoma cell invasion is relevant to the MAPK pathways. The up-regulation of AEG-1 increased the levels of phosphor-c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and phosphor-c-Jun; however, there were no marked changes in the levels of phosphor-extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 or phosphor-c-Fos due to the activation of AEG-1 in U2OS. SP600125 (a JNK inhibitor) decreased phosphor-c-Jun and MMP-2 in U2OS-AEG-1, while PD98059 (a ERK1/2 inhibitor) had no influence on the levels of phosphor-c-Jun or MMP-2 in U2OS-AEG-1. Further study revealed that the down-regulation of phosphor-c-Jun not only obviously decreased the MMP-2 protein level and the MMP-2 transcriptional activity that were up-regulated by AEG-1 in Western-blot and luciferase reporter assays, but also inhibited the migration and invasion abilities of the U2OS-AEG-1 cells, which suggests that AEG-1 mediated U2OS invasion at least partially via the JNK/c-Jun/MMP-2 pathway. Consistent with these observations, immunohistochemical (IHC) staining revealed that AEG-1 expression was associated with the protein levels of phosphor-c-Jun and MMP-2 in needle biopsy paraffin-embedded archival human osteosarcoma tissues. Taken together, our findings suggest that AEG-1 plays a crucial role in the aggressiveness of osteosarcoma via the JNK/c-Jun/MMP-2 pathway.

Fang Y, Wang Y, Wang Y, et al.
A new tumour suppression mechanism by p27Kip1: EGFR down-regulation mediated by JNK/c-Jun pathway inhibition.
Biochem J. 2014; 463(3):383-92 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
p27Kip1 is a potent inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases that drive G1-to-S cell-cycle transition. Reduced p27Kip1 expression is prevalent in a wide range of human tumours; however, the exact mechanism(s) of p27Kip1-mediated tumour suppression remains obscure. In the present study, we identified a close inverse relationship between p27Kip1 and EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) expression: the parental T24 human bladder cancer cells had high p27Kip1 expression but low EGFR expression and, in striking contrast, the metastatic derivative of T24 (T24T) had low p27Kip1 expression but high EGFR expression. This relationship was also found in various human cancer tissues, and was not only just correlative but also causal; depletion of p27Kip1 in MEF (mouse embryonic fibroblast) cells resulted in markedly elevated EGFR expression, a result reproducible with an Egfr promoter-luciferase reporter in both T24 and MEF cells, suggesting transcriptional repression of EGFR by p27Kip1. Indeed, p27Kip1 was found to regulate EGFR expression via the JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase)/c-Jun transcription factor: p27Kip1 deficiency activated JNK/c-Jun, whereas inhibition of JNK/c-Jun by dominant-negative mutants dramatically repressed Egfr transcription. Furthermore, the proximal promoter of the Egfr gene was crucial for its transcription, where the recruiting activity of c-Jun was much greater in p27Kip1-/- cells than in p27Kip1+/+ cells. Introduction of GFP-p27Kip1 into T24T cells suppressed JNK/c-Jun activation, EGFR expression and anchorage-independent growth. The results of the present study demonstrate that p27Kip1 suppresses JNK/c-Jun activation and EGFR expression in MEFs and human bladder cancer cells, and the results obtained are consistent with those from human cancer specimens. The present study provides new insights into p27Kip1 suppression of cancer cell growth, migration and metastasis.

Zhang Q, Yang Z, Jia Z, et al.
ISL-1 is overexpressed in non-Hodgkin lymphoma and promotes lymphoma cell proliferation by forming a p-STAT3/p-c-Jun/ISL-1 complex.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:181 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Insulin enhancer binding protein-1 (ISL-1), a LIM-homeodomain transcription factor, is essential for the heart, motor neuron and pancreas development. Recently, ISL-1 has been found in some types of human cancers. However, how ISL-1 exerts the role in tumor development is not clear.
METHODS AND RESULTS: The expression of ISL-1 was assessed in 211 human lymphoma samples and 23 normal lymph node samples. Immunohistochemistry results demonstrated a markedly higher expression of ISL-1 in 75% of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) samples compared with that in normal lymph nodes or Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) samples. CCK-8 analysis, cell cycle assay and xenograft model were performed to characterize the association between ISL-1 expression level and biological functions in NHL. The results showed that ISL-1 overexpression obviously promoted NHL cells proliferation, changed the cell cycle distribution in vitro and significantly enhanced xenografted lymphoma development in vivo. Real-time PCR, Western blot, luciferase assay and ChIP assay were used to explore the potential regulatory targets of ISL-1 and the results demonstrated that ISL-1 activated the c-Myc expression in NHL by direct binding to a conserved binding site on the c-Myc enhancer. Further results revealed that ISL-1 could be positively regulated by the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and the Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathways. Both the JNK and JAK/STAT signaling inhibitors could significantly suppressed the growth of NHL cells through the down-regulation of ISL-1 as demonstrated by CCK-8 and Western blot assays. Bioinformatic analysis and luciferase assay exhibited that ISL-1 was a novel target of p-STAT3 and p-c-jun. ChIP, Co-IP and ChIP-re-IP analysis revealed that ISL-1 could participate with p-STAT3 and p-c-Jun to form a p-STAT3/p-c-Jun/ISL-1 transcriptional complex that binds directly on the ISL-1 promoter, demonstrating a positive feedback regulatory mechanism for ISL-1 expression in NHL.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide the first evidence that ISL-1 is tightly linked to NHL proliferation and development by promoting c-Myc transcription, and its aberrant expression was regulated by p-STAT3/p-c-Jun/ISL-1 complex activation.

Ge YQ, Xu XF, Yang B, et al.
Saponins from Rubus parvifolius L. induce apoptosis in human chronic myeloid leukemia cells through AMPK activation and STAT3 inhibition.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(13):5455-61 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Saponins are a major active component for the traditional Chinese medicine, Rubus parvifolius L., which has shown clear antitumor activities. However, the specific effects and mechanisms of saponins of Rubus parvifolius L. (SRP) remain unclear with regard to human chronic myeloid leukemia cells. The aim of this study was to investigate inhibition of proliferation and apoptosis induction effects of SRP in K562 cells and further elucidate its regulatory mechanisms.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: K562 cells were treated with different concentrations of SRP and MTT assays were performed to determine cell viability. Apoptosis induction by SRP was determined with FACS and DAPI staining analysis. Western blotting was used to detect expression of apoptosis and survival related genes. Specific inhibitors were added to confirm roles of STAT3 and AMPK pathways in SRP induction of apoptosis.
RESULTS: Our results indicated that SRP exhibited obvious inhibitory effects on the growth of K562 cells, and significantly induced apoptosis. Cleavage of pro-apoptotic proteins was dramatically increased after SRP exposure. SRP treatment also increased the activities of AMPK and JNK pathways, and inhibited the phosphorylation expression level of STAT3 in K562 cells. Inhibition of the AMPK pathway blocked the activation of JNK by SRP, indicating that SRP regulated the expression of JNK dependent on the AMPK pathway. Furthermore, inhibition of the latter significantly conferred resistance to SRP pro- apoptotic activity, suggesting involvement of the AMPK pathway in induction of apoptosis. Pretreatment with a STAT3 inhibitor also augmented SRP induced growth inhibition and cell apoptosis, further confirming roles of the STAT3 pathway after SRP treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrated that SRP induce cell apoptosis through AMPK activation and STAT3 inhibition in K562 cells. This suggests the possibility of further developing SRP as an alternative treatment option, or perhaps using it as adjuvant chemotherapeutic agent for chronic myeloid leukemia therapy.

Diefenbacher ME, Popov N, Blake SM, et al.
The deubiquitinase USP28 controls intestinal homeostasis and promotes colorectal cancer.
J Clin Invest. 2014; 124(8):3407-18 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. Although the transcription factor c-MYC is misregulated in the majority of colorectal tumors, it is difficult to target directly. The deubiquitinase USP28 stabilizes oncogenic factors, including c-MYC; however, the contribution of USP28 in tumorigenesis, particularly in the intestine, is unknown. Here, using murine genetic models, we determined that USP28 antagonizes the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of c-MYC, a known USP28 substrate, as well as 2 additional oncogenic factors, c-JUN and NOTCH1, in the intestine. Mice lacking Usp28 had no apparent adverse phenotypes, but exhibited reduced intestinal proliferation and impaired differentiation of secretory lineage cells. In a murine model of colorectal cancer, Usp28 deletion resulted in fewer intestinal tumors, and importantly, in established tumors, Usp28 deletion reduced tumor size and dramatically increased lifespan. Moreover, we identified Usp28 as a c-MYC target gene highly expressed in murine and human intestinal cancers, which indicates that USP28 and c-MYC form a positive feedback loop that maintains high c-MYC protein levels in tumors. Usp28 deficiency promoted tumor cell differentiation accompanied by decreased proliferation, which suggests that USP28 acts similarly in intestinal homeostasis and colorectal cancer models. Hence, inhibition of the enzymatic activity of USP28 may be a potential target for cancer therapy.

Wang CC, Janes KA
Non-genetic heterogeneity caused by differential single-cell adhesion.
Cell Cycle. 2014; 13(14):2149-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications

Lee MS, Kim S, Kim BG, et al.
Snail1 induced in breast cancer cells in 3D collagen I gel environment suppresses cortactin and impairs effective invadopodia formation.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1843(9):2037-54 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although an in vitro 3D environment cannot completely mimic the in vivo tumor site, embedding tumor cells in a 3D extracellular matrix (ECM) allows for the study of cancer cell behaviors and the screening of anti-metastatic reagents with a more in vivo-like context. Here we explored the behaviors of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells embedded in 3D collagen I. Diverse tumor environmental conditions (including cell density, extracellular acidity, or hypoxia as mimics for a continuous tumor growth) reduced JNKs, enhanced TGFβ1/Smad signaling activity, induced Snail1, and reduced cortactin expression. The reduced JNKs activity blocked efficient formation of invadopodia labeled with actin, cortactin, or MT1-MMP. JNKs inactivation activated Smad2 and Smad4, which were required for Snail1 expression. Snail1 then repressed cortactin expression, causing reduced invadopodia formation and prominent localization of MT1-MMP at perinuclear regions. MDA-MB-231 cells thus exhibited less efficient collagen I degradation and invasion in 3D collagen I upon JNKs inhibition. These observations support a signaling network among JNKs, Smads, Snail1, and cortactin to regulate the invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells embedded in 3D collagen I, which may be targeted during screening of anti-invasion reagents.

Sioletic S, Czaplinski J, Hu L, et al.
c-Jun promotes cell migration and drives expression of the motility factor ENPP2 in soft tissue sarcomas.
J Pathol. 2014; 234(2):190-202 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Genomic amplification of the c-Jun proto-oncogene has been identified in ∼30% of dedifferentiated liposarcomas (DDLPS), but the functional contribution of c-Jun to the progression of DDLPS remains poorly understood. In previous work we showed that knock-down of c-Jun by RNA interference impaired the in vitro proliferation and in vivo growth of a DDLPS cell line (LP6) with genomic amplification of the c-Jun locus. Here, we used gene expression analysis and functional studies in a broad panel of cell lines to further define the role of c-Jun in DDLPS and other soft tissue sarcomas. We show that c-Jun knock-down impairs transition through the G1 phase of the cell cycle in multiple DDLPS cell lines. We also found that high levels of c-Jun expression are both necessary and sufficient to promote DDLPS cell migration and invasion in vitro. Our data suggest that high levels of c-Jun enhance motility in part by driving the expression of ENPP2/Autotaxin. c-Jun over-expression has minimal effects on in vitro proliferation but substantially enhances the in vivo growth of weakly tumourigenic DDLPS cell lines. Finally, we provide evidence that c-Jun genomic amplification and over-expression may have similar functional consequences in other types of soft tissue sarcoma. Our data suggest a model in which relatively low levels of c-Jun are sufficient for in vitro proliferation, but high levels of c-Jun enhance invasiveness and capacity for in vivo tumour growth. These observations provide an explanation for the selective advantage provided by c-Jun genomic amplification in vivo and suggest that sarcomas with elevated c-Jun levels are likely to have a particularly high malignant potential. Data from exon array and RNA-Seq experiments have been deposited in the GEO database (Accession No. GSE57531).

Wang Y, Tang C, Wu M, et al.
Dehydroascorbic acid taken up by glucose transporters stimulates estradiol production through inhibition of JNK/c-Jun/AP1 signaling in JAR cells.
Mol Hum Reprod. 2014; 20(8):799-809 [PubMed] Related Publications
We have previously demonstrated that the reduced form of vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid, AA) is able to induce the production of both steroid and peptide hormones in human choriocarcinoma cells. Here, we attempted to investigate the role and underlying mechanism of the oxidized form of vitamin C, dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), in steroidogenesis in primary human cytotrophoblasts and human choriocarcinoma cells. Messenger RNA and protein levels of steroidogenic enzymes including P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (3β-HSD1), 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (17β-HSD1) and aromatase were examined by quantitative RT-PCR and western blots, respectively. Progesterone (P4) and estradiol (E2) levels were determined by enzyme immunoassays. Knockdown of c-Jun was achieved by lentivirus-mediated shRNA, and signaling pathways implicated in DHA-induced steroidogenesis were examined by western blots and dual-luciferase assays. DHA dose-dependently induced the expression of steroidogenic enzymes including 3β-HSD1, 17β-HSD1 and aromatase at both mRNA and protein levels, and subsequently increased the production of E2 but not P4. These effects were synergized by diethylmaleate, a glutathione-depleting compound, and α-tocopherol, a reducing agent, but robustly attenuated by inhibition of DHA transportation by phloretin or 2-deoxy-d-glucose. DHA time-dependently inhibited JNK and c-Jun phosphorylation, and dose-dependently reduced AP1 reporter activity. JNK signaling pathway-specific inhibitor SP600125 and c-Jun shRNA both significantly increased the expression of steroidogenic enzymes and E2 production regardless of the presence or absence of DHA. These findings suggest that DHA is able to induce steroidogenesis through inhibition of JNK/c-Jun/AP1 signaling, and may therefore play indispensable roles in pregnancy maintenance.

Zhao C, Qiao Y, Jonsson P, et al.
Genome-wide profiling of AP-1-regulated transcription provides insights into the invasiveness of triple-negative breast cancer.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(14):3983-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive clinical subtype accounting for up to 20% of all breast cancers, but its malignant determinants remain largely undefined. Here, we show that in TNBC the overexpression of Fra-1, a component of the transcription factor AP-1, offers prognostic potential. Fra-1 depletion or its heterodimeric partner c-Jun inhibits the proliferative and invasive phenotypes of TNBC cells in vitro. Similarly, RNAi-mediated attenuation of Fra-1 or c-Jun reduced cellular invasion in vivo in a zebrafish tumor xenograft model. Exploring the AP-1 cistrome and the AP-1-regulated transcriptome, we obtained insights into the transcriptional regulatory networks of AP-1 in TNBC cells. Among the direct targets identified for Fra-1/c-Jun involved in proliferation, adhesion, and cell-cell contact, we found that AP-1 repressed the expression of E-cadherin by transcriptional upregulation of ZEB2 to stimulate cell invasion. Overall, this work illuminates the pathways through which TNBC cells acquire invasive and proliferative properties.

Luo A, Yu X, Li G, et al.
Differentiation-associated genes regulated by c-Jun and decreased in the progression of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(5):e96610 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Transcription factor c-Jun plays a key role in controlling epithelium cell proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation. However, molecular mechanism and biological functions of c-Jun in squamous differentiation and the progression of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remain elusive. In this study, we found that c-Jun bound directly to the promoter region, and activated the transcription of differentiation-associated genes including cystatin A, involucrin and SPRR3 in vivo. Ectopic expression of c-Jun enhanced SPRR3 transactivation in KYSE450 cells. Conversely, TAM67, a dominant negative mutant of c-Jun, inhibited SPRR3 transactivation. c-Jun increased expression of SPPR3 mainly via a PKC/JNK pathway in response to TPA in KYSE450 cells. Furthermore, c-Jun was remarkably reduced in esophageal cancer. Interestingly, cystatin A, involucrin and SPRR3 were significantly downregulated as well, and associated with differentiation grade. Expression of c-Jun was correlated with the expression of these genes in normal epithelium and ESCC. Importantly, the expression of these genes was remarkably decreased during the malignant transformation from normal epithelium to low-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (LGIN) or high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN). The expression of cystatin A and involucrin was significantly reduced from LGIN to HGIN. These results suggest c-Jun was involved in the regulation of differentiation-associated genes in ESCC. These genes might serve as the potential markers in distinguishing normal epithelium from esophageal squamous intraepithelial neoplasia.

Michor F, Weaver VM
Understanding tissue context influences on intratumour heterogeneity.
Nat Cell Biol. 2014; 16(4):301-2 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Although human cancers exhibit intratumour heterogeneity, the influence of the tumour environment on this property is unclear. Single basal-like mammary epithelial cells are now shown to engage a dynamic TGFBR3-JUND signalling circuit in an extracellular-matrix-dependent manner. Cell transition between the distinct gene expression states underlying this circuit alters their properties and may modulate their propensity to malignancy.

Wang CC, Bajikar SS, Jamal L, et al.
A time- and matrix-dependent TGFBR3-JUND-KRT5 regulatory circuit in single breast epithelial cells and basal-like premalignancies.
Nat Cell Biol. 2014; 16(4):345-56 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Basal-like breast carcinoma is characterized by poor prognosis and high intratumour heterogeneity. In an immortalized basal-like breast epithelial cell line, we identified two anticorrelated gene-expression programs that arise among single extracellular matrix (ECM)-attached cells during organotypic three-dimensional culture. The first contains multiple TGF-β-related genes including TGFBR3, whereas the second contains JUND and the basal-like marker KRT5. TGFBR3 and JUND interconnect through four negative-feedback loops to form a circuit that exhibits spontaneous damped oscillations in three-dimensional culture. The TGFBR3-JUND circuit is conserved in some premalignant lesions that heterogeneously express KRT5. The circuit depends on ECM engagement, as detachment causes a rewiring that is triggered by RPS6 dephosphorylation and maintained by juxtacrine tenascin C, which is critical for intraductal colonization of basal-like breast cancer cells in vivo. Intratumour heterogeneity need not stem from partial differentiation and could instead reflect dynamic toggling of cells between expression states that are not cell autonomous.

Liao YJ, Bai HY, Li ZH, et al.
Longikaurin A, a natural ent-kaurane, induces G2/M phase arrest via downregulation of Skp2 and apoptosis induction through ROS/JNK/c-Jun pathway in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1137 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of primary liver cancer, and is also highly resistant to conventional chemotherapy treatments. In this study, we report that Longikaurin A (LK-A), an ent-kaurane diterpenoid isolated from the plant Isodon ternifolius, induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human HCC cell lines. LK-A also suppressed tumor growth in SMMC-7721 xenograft models, without inducing any notable major organ-related toxicity. LK-A treatment led to reduced expression of the proto-oncogene S phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2) in SMMC-7721 cells. Lower Skp2 levels correlated with increased expression of p21 and p-cdc2 (Try15), and a corresponding decrease in protein levels of Cyclin B1 and cdc2. Overexpression of Skp2 significantly inhibited LK-A-induced cell cycle arrest in SMMC-7721 cells, suggesting that LK-A may target Skp2 to arrest cells at the G2/M phase. LK-A also induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and apoptosis in SMMC-7721 cells. LK-A induced phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase and P38 MAP kinase. Treatment with, the JNK inhibitor SP600125 prevented LK-A-induced apoptosis in SMMC-7721 cells. Moreover, the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine prevented phosphorylation of both JNK and c-Jun. Taken together, these data indicate that LK-A induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells by dampening Skp2 expression, and thereby activating the ROS/JNK/c-Jun signaling pathways. LK-A is therefore a potential lead compound for development of antitumor drugs targeting HCC.

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