Interaction of aryl hydrocarbon receptor and NF-κB subunit RelB in breast cancer is associated with interleukin-8 overexpression

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2011 Aug 1;512(1):78-86. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 May 26.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) has been best known for its role in mediating the toxicity of dioxin. Here we show that AhR overexpression is found among estrogen receptor (ER)α-negative human breast tumors and that its overexpression is positively correlated to that of the NF-κB subunit RelB and Interleukin (IL)-8. Increased DNA binding activity of the AhR and RelB is coupled to IL-8 overexpression in primary breast cancer tissue, which was also supported by in situ hybridization. Activation of AhR in vitro by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) induced IL-8 expression in MDA-MB 436 and MCF-7 cells in an AhR and RelB dependent manner. Consistently, downregulation of RelB or AhR by small interfering RNAs (siRNA) decreased the level of IL-8 but increased expression of ERα in vitro in MCF-7 cells. Our results strongly suggest that RelB and AhR have a critical role in the regulation of IL-8 and reveal a supportive role of RelB and AhR in the anti-apoptotic response in human breast cancer cells. AhR and RelB may present a novel therapeutic target for inflammatory driven breast carcinogenesis and tumor progression. Overexpression of pro-survival factors AhR and RelB may explain the process of the development of environmentally-induced type of breast cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / genetics
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factor RelB / genetics
  • Transcription Factor RelB / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Interleukin-8
  • NF-kappa B
  • RELB protein, human
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Transcription Factor RelB
  • DNA