FOXQ1 controls the induced differentiation of melanocytic cells

Cell Death Differ. 2018 Jun;25(6):1040-1049. doi: 10.1038/s41418-018-0066-y. Epub 2018 Feb 20.


Oncogenic transcription factor FOXQ1 has been implicated in promotion of multiple transformed phenotypes in carcinoma cells. Recently, we have characterized FOXQ1 as a melanoma tumor suppressor that acts via repression of N-cadherin gene, and invasion and metastasis. Here we report that FOXQ1 induces differentiation in normal and transformed melanocytic cells at least partially via direct transcriptional activation of MITF gene, melanocytic lineage-specific regulator of differentiation. Importantly, we demonstrate that pigmentation induced in cultured melanocytic cells and in mice by activation of cAMP/CREB1 pathway depends in large part on FOXQ1. Moreover, our data reveal that FOXQ1 acts as a critical mediator of BRAFV600E-dependent regulation of MITF levels, thus providing a novel link between two major signal transduction pathways controlling MITF and differentiation in melanocytic cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Melanocytes / metabolism*
  • Melanocytes / pathology
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxq1 protein, mouse
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Mitf protein, mouse
  • Braf protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf