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      Activation of the steroid and xenobiotic receptor, SXR, induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells

      1 , 1 , , 1

      BMC Cancer

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          Background

          The steroid and xenobiotic receptor, SXR, is an orphan nuclear receptor that regulates metabolism of diverse dietary, endobiotic, and xenobiotic compounds. SXR is expressed at high levels in the liver and intestine, and at lower levels in breast and other tissues where its function was unknown. Since many breast cancer preventive and therapeutic compounds are SXR activators, we hypothesized that some beneficial effects of these compounds are mediated through SXR.

          Methods

          To test this hypothesis, we measured proliferation of breast cancer cells in response to SXR activators and evaluated consequent changes in the expression of genes critical for proliferation and cell-cycle control using quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting. Results were confirmed using siRNA-mediated gene knockdown. Statistical analysis was by t-test or ANOVA and a P value ≤ 0.05 was considered to be significant.

          Results

          Many structurally and functionally distinct SXR activators inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 breast cancer cells by inducing cell cycle arrest at the G1/S phase followed by apoptosis. Decreased growth in response to SXR activation was associated with stabilization of p53 and up-regulation of cell cycle regulatory and pro-apoptotic genes such as p21, PUMA and BAX. These gene expression changes were preceded by an increase in inducible nitric oxide synthase and nitric oxide in these cells. Inhibition of iNOS blocked the induction of p53. p53 knockdown inhibited up-regulation of p21 and BAX. We infer that NO is required for p53 induction and that p53 is required for up-regulation of cell cycle regulatory and apoptotic genes in this system. SXR activator-induced increases in iNOS levels were inhibited by siRNA-mediated knockdown of SXR, indicating that SXR activation is necessary for subsequent regulation of iNOS expression.

          Conclusion

          We conclude that activation of SXR is anti-proliferative in p53 wild type breast cancer cells and that this effect is mechanistically dependent upon the local production of NO and NO-dependent up-regulation of p53. These findings reveal a novel biological function for SXR and suggest that a subset of SXR activators may function as effective therapeutic and chemo-preventative agents for certain types of breast cancers.

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          Most cited references 70

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          Cell death: critical control points.

          Programmed cell death is a distinct genetic and biochemical pathway essential to metazoans. An intact death pathway is required for successful embryonic development and the maintenance of normal tissue homeostasis. Apoptosis has proven to be tightly interwoven with other essential cell pathways. The identification of critical control points in the cell death pathway has yielded fundamental insights for basic biology, as well as provided rational targets for new therapeutics.
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            The human orphan nuclear receptor PXR is activated by compounds that regulate CYP3A4 gene expression and cause drug interactions.

            The cytochrome P-450 monooxygenase 3A4 (CYP3A4) is responsible for the oxidative metabolism of a wide variety of xenobiotics including an estimated 60% of all clinically used drugs. Although expression of the CYP3A4 gene is known to be induced in response to a variety of compounds, the mechanism underlying this induction, which represents a basis for drug interactions in patients, has remained unclear. We report the identification of a human (h) orphan nuclear receptor, termed the pregnane X receptor (PXR), that binds to a response element in the CYP3A4 promoter and is activated by a range of drugs known to induce CYP3A4 expression. Comparison of hPXR with the recently cloned mouse PXR reveals marked differences in their activation by certain drugs, which may account in part for the species-specific effects of compounds on CYP3A gene expression. These findings provide a molecular explanation for the ability of disparate chemicals to induce CYP3A4 levels and, furthermore, provide a basis for developing in vitro assays to aid in predicting whether drugs will interact in humans.
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              An orphan nuclear receptor activated by pregnanes defines a novel steroid signaling pathway.

              Steroid hormones exert profound effects on differentiation, development, and homeostasis in higher eukaryotes through interactions with nuclear receptors. We describe a novel orphan nuclear receptor, termed the pregnane X receptor (PXR), that is activated by naturally occurring steroids such as pregnenolone and progesterone, and synthetic glucocorticoids and antiglucocorticoids. PXR exists as two isoforms, PXR.1 and PXR.2, that are differentially activated by steroids. Notably, PXR.1 is efficaciously activated by pregnenolone 16alpha-carbonitrile, a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist that induces the expression of the CYP3A family of steroid hydroxylases and modulates sterol and bile acid biosynthesis in vivo. Our results provide evidence for the existence of a novel steroid hormone signaling pathway with potential implications in the regulation of steroid hormone and sterol homeostasis.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Cancer
                BMC Cancer
                BioMed Central
                1471-2407
                2009
                5 January 2009
                : 9
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, 5205 McGaugh Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-2300, USA
                Article
                1471-2407-9-3
                10.1186/1471-2407-9-3
                2631587
                19123943
                Copyright ©2009 Verma et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

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