PAX8 promotes tumor cell growth by transcriptionally regulating E2F1 and stabilizing RB protein.

PMID 21602887


The retinoblastoma protein (RB)-E2F1 pathway has a central role in regulating the cell cycle. Several PAX proteins (tissue-specific developmental regulators), including PAX8, interact with the RB protein, and thus regulate the cell cycle directly or indirectly. Here, we report that PAX8 expression is frequent in renal cell carcinoma, bladder, ovarian and thyroid cancer cell lines, and that silencing of PAX8 in cancer cell lines leads to a striking reduction in the expression of E2F1 and its target genes, as well as a proteasome-dependent destabilization of RB protein, with the RB1 mRNA level remaining unaffected. Cancer cells expressing PAX8 undergo a G(1)/S arrest and eventually senesce following PAX8 silencing. We demonstrate that PAX8 transcriptionally regulates the E2F1 promoter directly, and E2F1 transcription is enhanced after RB depletion. RB is recruited to the PAX8-binding site, and is involved in PAX8-mediated E2F1 transcription in cancer cells. Therefore, our results suggest that, in cancer, frequent and persistent expression of PAX8 is required for cell growth control through transcriptional activation of E2F1 expression and upregulation of the RB-E2F1 pathway.