HOXA5 acts directly downstream of retinoic acid receptor β and contributes to retinoic acid-induced apoptosis and growth inhibition

Hexin Chen, Huiping Zhang, Jishin Lee, Xiaohui Liang, Xinyan Wu, Tao Zhu, Pang Kuo Lo, Xiaokun Zhang, Saraswati Sukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The promise of retinoids as chemopreventive agents in breast cancer is based on the differentiation and apoptosis induced upon their binding to the retinoic acid (RA) receptor β (RARβ). We have previously shown that HOXA5 induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells. In this study, we investigated whether RA/RARβ and HOXA5 actions intersect to induce apoptosis and differentiation in breast cancer cells. We found that HOXA5 expression can be induced by RA only in RARβ-positive breast cancer cells. We have, for the first time, identified the RA response element in HOXA5, which was found to be located in the 3′ end of the gene. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that RARβ binds directly to this region in vivo. Overexpression of RARβ strongly enhances RA responsiveness, and knocking down RARβ expression abolishes RA-mediated induction of HOXA5 expression in breast cancer cells. In addition, there is coordinated loss of both HOXA5 and RARβ expression during neoplastic transformation and progression in the breast epithelial cell model, MCF10A. Knockdown of HOXA5 expression partially abrogates retinoid-induced apoptosis and promotes cell survival upon RA treatment. These results strongly suggest that HOXA5 acts directly downstream of RARβ and may contribute to retinoid-induced anticancer and chemopreventive effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8007-8013
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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