The abrogation of the HOXB7/PBX2 complex induces apoptosis in melanoma through the miR-221&222-c-FOS pathway

M. Cristina Errico, Federica Felicetti, Lisabianca Bottero, Gianfranco Mattia, Alessandra Boe, Nadia Felli, Marina Petrini, Maria Bellenghi, Hardev S. Pandha, Marco Calvaruso, Claudio Tripodo, Mario P. Colombo, Richard Morgan, Alessandra Carè

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cutaneous melanoma is the fastest increasing cancer worldwide. Although several molecular abnormalities have been associated with melanoma progression, the underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown and few targeted therapies are under evaluation. Here we show that the HOXB7/PBX2 dimer acts as a positive transcriptional regulator of the oncogenic microRNA-221 and -222. In addition, demonstrating c-FOS as a direct target of miR-221&222, we identify a HOXB7/PBX2→miR-221&222 →c-FOS regulatory link, whereby the abrogation of functional HOXB7/PBX2 dimers leads to reduced miR-221&222 transcription and elevated c-FOS expression with consequent cell death. Taking advantage of the treatment with the peptide HXR9, an antagonist of HOX/PBX dimerization, we recognize miR-221&222 as effectors of its action, in turn confirming the HXR9 efficacy in the treatment of human melanoma malignancy, whilst sparing normal human melanocytes. Our findings, besides suggesting the potential therapeutic of HXR9 or its derivatives in malignant melanoma, suggest the disruption of the HOXB7/PBX2 complexes, miR-221&222 inhibition or even better their combination, as innovative therapeutic approaches. What's new? Cutaneous melanoma is the fastest increasing cancer worldwide. Although several molecular abnormalities have been associated with melanoma progression, the underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown. Here the authors show that the HOXB7/PBX2 complex is a new transcriptional activator of the oncogenic microRNA-221 and 222 in melanoma inducing tumor malignancy. The authors also identified c-FOS as a direct target of miR-221&222 whose repression causes reduced apoptosis. The abrogation of HOXB7 and/or miR-221&222 or the disruption of HOXB7/PBX2 dimers by the peptide HXR9 might thus represent novel molecular approaches for advanced melanoma, an aggressive neoplasm refractory to traditional therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-892
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Volume133
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2013

Keywords

  • HOXB7
  • HXR9 peptide
  • melanoma
  • microRNA
  • PBX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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