Background: Fenretinide (4-HPR) is a synthetic retinoid that exhibits potent antitumor and chemopreventive activities against different malignancies, including ovarian tumors. We previously showed that in ovarian cancer cells, 4-HPR induces apoptosis through a signaling cascade starting from reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and involving endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK) activation, and induction of the proapoptotic PLAcental Bone morphogenetic protein (PLAB). Since recent studies have shown that the oncogene ALL1-fused from chromosome 1q (AF1q), a retinoic acid target gene, is implicated in apoptosis induction by several therapeutic agents, we investigated its possible involvement in the apoptosis induced by 4-HPR in ovarian cancer cells. Methodology/Principal Findings: Protein expression analysis, performed in ovarian cancer cells and extended to other histotypes (breast, neuroblastoma, and cervical), revealed that 4-HPR enhanced AF1q expression in cancer cells sensitive to the retinoid but not in resistant cells. Through gene silencing, AF1q was found functionally involved in 4-HPR-induced apoptosis in A2780, an ovarian cancer cell line highly sensitive to retinoid growth inhibitory and apoptotic effects. Inhibition of the signaling intermediates of the 4-HPR apoptotic cascade showed that AF1q upregulation was depended on prior generation of ROS, induction of ER stress response, JNK activation, and PLAB upmodulation. Finally, we found that direct overexpression of AF1q, in the absence of external stimuli, increased apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell lines. Conclusions/Significance: The study expands the knowledge of the 4-HPR mechanism of action, which has not yet been completely elucidated, identifying AF1q as a novel mediator of retinoid anticancer activity. In addition, we demonstrate, for the first time, that AF1q plays a role in the onset of basal apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells, thus providing new information about the activity of this protein whose biologic functions are mostly unknown.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)