Author(s): Dever DP, Opanashuk LA
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Abstract The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated member of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH)/PER-ARNT-SIM (PAS) transcription superfamily, is known to regulate the toxicity of polyaromatic halogenated hydrocarbon environmental chemicals, most notably dioxin. However, the AhR has also been implicated in multiple stages of tumorigenesis. Medulloblastoma (MB), a primary cerebellar brain tumor arising in infants and children, is thought to originate from abnormally proliferating cerebellar granule neuron precursors (GNPs). GNPs express high levels of the AhR in the external germinal layer of the developing cerebellum. Moreover, our laboratory has previously reported that either abnormal activation or deletion of the AhR leads to dysregulation of GNP cell cycle activity and maturation. These observations led to the hypothesis that the AhR promotes the growth of MB. Therefore, this study evaluated whether the AhR serves a pro-proliferative role in an immortalized MB tumor cell line (DAOY). We produced a stable AhR knockdown DAOY cell line [AhR short hairpin RNA (shRNA)], which exhibited a 70\% reduction in AhR protein levels. Compared with wild-type DAOY cells, AhR shRNA DAOY cells displayed an impaired G(1)-to-S cell cycle transition, decreased DNA synthesis, and reduced proliferation. Furthermore, these cell cycle perturbations were correlated with decreased levels of the pro-proliferative gene Hes1 and increased levels of the cell cycle inhibitor p27(kip1). Supplementation experiments with human AhR restored the proliferative activity in AhR shRNA DAOY cells. Taken together, our data show that the AhR promotes proliferation of MB cells, suggesting that this pathway should be considered as a potential therapeutic target for MB treatment.
This article was published in Mol Pharmacol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access