The EGF receptor ligand amphiregulin controls cell division via FoxM1

Oncogene. 2016 Apr 21;35(16):2075-86. doi: 10.1038/onc.2015.269. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is central to epithelial cell physiology, and deregulated EGFR signaling has an important role in a variety of human carcinomas. Here we show that silencing of the EGF-related factor amphiregulin (AREG) markedly inhibits the expansion of human keratinocytes through mitotic failure and accumulation of cells with ⩾ 4n DNA content. RNA-sequencing-based transcriptome analysis revealed that tetracycline-mediated AREG silencing significantly altered the expression of 2331 genes, 623 of which were not normalized by treatment with EGF. Interestingly, genes irreversibly upregulated by suppression of AREG overlapped with genes involved in keratinocyte differentiation. Moreover, a significant proportion of the irreversibly downregulated genes featured upstream binding sites recognized by forkhead box protein M1 (FoxM1), a key transcription factor in the control of mitosis that is widely dysregulated in cancer. The downregulation of FoxM1 and its target genes preceded mitotic arrest. Constitutive expression of FoxM1 in AREG knockdown cells normalized cell proliferation, reduced the number of cells with ⩾ 4n DNA content and rescued expression of FoxM1 target genes. These results demonstrate that AREG controls G2/M progression and cytokinesis in keratinocytes via activation of a FoxM1-dependent transcriptional program, suggesting new avenues for treatment of epithelial cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amphiregulin
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • EGF Family of Proteins / genetics
  • EGF Family of Proteins / metabolism
  • EGF Family of Proteins / physiology*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • G2 Phase
  • Gene Silencing
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Ligands


  • AREG protein, human
  • Amphiregulin
  • EGF Family of Proteins
  • FOXM1 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Ligands
  • ErbB Receptors