The helix-loop-helix protein inhibitor of differentiation and DNA binding (Id-1) is known to promote cellular proliferation in several types of human cancer. Although it has been reported that Id-1 is over-expressed in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), its function and signaling pathways in esophageal cancer are unknown. In our study, we investigated the direct effects of Id-1 on esophageal cancer cell growth by transfecting an Id-1 expression vector into an ESCC cell line (HKESC-3), which showed serum-dependent Id-1 expression. Ectopic Id-1 expression resulted in increased serum-independent cell growth and G1-S phase transition, as well as up-regulation of mouse double minute 2 (MDM2) and down-regulation of p21Waf1/Cip1 protein expressions in the transfectant clones in a p53-independent manner. However, overexpression of Id-1 had no effect on the pRB, CDK4 and p16INK4A expressions. Stable transfection of Id-1 antisense expression vector to inhibit the expression of endogenous Id-1 in another ESCC cell line (HKESC-1) reversed the effects on MDM2 and p21Waf1/Cip1. In addition, Id-1 expression protected ESCC cells from Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-alpha-induced apoptosis by up-regulating and activating Bcl-2. In conclusion, our study provides evidence for the first time that Id-1 plays a role in both proliferation and survival of esophageal cancer cells. Our findings also suggest that unlike prostate, hepatocellular and nasopharyngeal carcinomas in which Id-1 induces cell proliferation through inactivation of p16INK4A/RB pathway, the increased cell proliferation observed in ESCC cells may be mediated through a different mechanism.
Copyright (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.