Intestine-specific homeobox (ISX), a newly identified proto-oncogene, is involved in cell proliferation and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the underlying mechanisms linking gene expression and tumor formation remain unclear. In this study, we found that ISX transcriptionally activated E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1) and associated oncogenic activity by directly binding to the E2 site of its promoter. Forced expression of ISX increased the expression of and phosphorylated the serine residue at position 332 of E2F1, which may be translocated into the nucleus to form the E2F1-DP-1 complex, suggesting that the promotion of oncogenic activities of the ISX-E2F1 axis plays a critical role in hepatoma cells. Coexpression of ISX and E2F1 significantly promoted p53 and RB-mediated cell proliferation and anti-apoptosis, and repressed apoptosis and autophagy. In contrast, short hairpin RNAi-mediated attenuation of ISX and E2F1 decreased cell proliferation and malignant transformation, respectively, in hepatoma cells in vitro and in vivo. The mRNA expression of E2F1 and ISX in 238 paired specimens from human HCC patients, and the adjacent, normal tissues exhibited a tumor-specific expression pattern which was highly correlated with disease pathogenesis, patient survival time, progression stage, and poor prognosis. Therefore, our results indicate that E2F1 is an important downstream gene of ISX in hepatoma progression.
- Cyclin D1
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
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