Cyclin D1 gene (CCND1) is a critical mitogen-regulated cell-cycle control element whose transcriptional modulation plays a crucial role in breast cancer growth and progression. Here we demonstrate that the non-aromatizable androgen 5-α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) inhibits endogenous cyclin D1 expression, as evidenced by reduction of cyclin D1 mRNA and protein levels, and decrease of CCND1-promoter activity, in MCF-7 cells. The DHT-dependent inhibition of CCND1 gene activity requires the involvement and the integrity of the androgen receptor (AR) DNA-binding domain. Site directed mutagenesis, DNA affinity precipitation assay, electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses indicate that this inhibitory effect is ligand dependent and it is mediated by direct binding of AR to an androgen response element (CCND1-ARE) located at -570 to -556-bp upstream of the transcription start site, in the cyclin D1 proximal promoter. Moreover, AR-mediated repression of the CCND1 involves the recruitment of the atypical orphan nuclear receptor DAX1 as a component of a multiprotein repressor complex also embracing the participation of Histone Deacetylase 1. In conclusion, identification of the CCND1-ARE allows defining cyclin D1 as a specific androgen target gene in breast and might contribute to explain the molecular basis of the inhibitory role of androgens on breast cancer cells proliferation.
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