Retinoic Acid-Induced AP-1 Transcriptional Activity Regulates B16 Mouse Melanoma Growth Inhibition and Differentiation

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Retinoic acid (RA) inhibits growth and induces differentiation of B16 mouse melanoma cells. These effects are accompanied by a large increase in PKCa mRNA and protein levels and surprisingly an increase in activating protein-1 (AP-1) transcriptional activity. To further investigate the RA-induced AP-1 activity we established clones of B16 cells stably expressing an AP-1-luciferase reporter gene. Treatment of these clones with phorbol dibutyrate increased AP-1 activity which peaked at 2–4 h and returned to baseline level by 24 h. In contrast, RA treatment resulted in a slow increase in AP-1 activity that reached a maximum level at 48 h and was maintained for the duration of the treatment. We tested the importance of the RA-induced AP-1 activity by establishing clones which stably express a dominant negative fos gene (A-fos) and have greatly diminished AP-1 activity. Growth rates of untreated A-fos expressing cells were similar to wt B16 and clones not expressing A-fos. However, clones expressing the dominant-negative fos had a markedly decreased sensitivity to RA-induced inhibition of anchorage-dependent and -independent growth. Treatment of wt B16 cells for 48 h with RA increased melanin production by two to fourfold, but this effect was completely lost in the A-fos clones. The ability of RA to induce RARb and PKCa expression was retained in A-fos clones, suggesting that A-fos was not interfering with RAR transcription activation functions. We tested whether the RA-induced AP-1 activity might be mediated by the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway. Inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation stimulated AP-1 activity, which was not additive to that induced by RA. This finding raises the possibility that this MAPK pathway may be a target of retinoid action. Our observations suggest that AP-1 transcriptional activity induced by RA likely plays an important role in the biological changes mediated by this retinoid in B16 melanoma cells.


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