AP-1 blockade in breast cancer cells causes cell cycle arrest by suppressing G1 cyclin expression and reducing cyclin-dependent kinase activity

Oncogene. 2004 Oct 28;23(50):8238-46. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207889.


The AP-1 transcription factor is a central component of signal transduction pathways in many cells, although the exact role of AP-1 in controlling cell growth and malignant transformation is unknown. We have previously shown that AP-1 complexes are activated by peptide and steroid growth factors in both normal and malignant breast cells, and that blocking AP-1 by overexpressing a dominant-negative form of cJun (cJun-DN, TAM67) inhibits breast cancer cell growth both in vivo and in vitro. We hypothesized that TAM67 inhibits cell growth by altering the expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins, thus causing a cell cycle block. In the present study, we used clones of MCF7 breast cancer cells that express TAM67 under the control of an inducible promoter. First, we determined the effect of AP-1 blockade on cell growth, then we performed 3H-thymidine incorporation and flow cytometry assays to investigate whether TAM67 inhibits the cell cycle. We observed that in the presence of serum TAM67 inhibited cell growth and caused a block in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Next, we performed Western-blotting and CDK kinase assays to determine the effects of TAM67 on retinoblastoma (Rb) phosphorylation, the expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins, and CDK activity. We discovered that TAM67 inhibited Rb phosphorylation and reduced E2F activity. We also found that TAM67 decreased the expression of D and E cyclins, reduced CDK2 and CDK4 activity, and increased the CDK inhibitor p27. The studies of gene expression at the RNA level showed that TAM67 decreased cyclin Ds mRNA expression. Our study suggests that in the presence of serum, TAM67 inhibits breast cancer growth predominantly by inducing inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases (such as p27) and by reducing the expression of the cyclins involved in transitioning from G1 into S phase of the cell cycle. These studies lay the foundation for future attempt to develop new agents for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cyclins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cyclins / genetics
  • Cyclins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • E2F Transcription Factors
  • Flow Cytometry
  • G1 Phase*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cyclins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • E2F Transcription Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Transcription Factors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases