To investigate the role of AP-1 transcription factors in mediating retinoid-induced growth suppression of breast cells, we studied the sensitivity of MCF7 breast cancer cells with different levels of AP-1 activity to all-trans retinoic acid (atRA). AP-1 activity was increased in MCF7 cells by stably transfecting c-jun cDNA into these cells. Parental and vector-transfected MCF7 cells, which were sensitive to the growth-inhibitory effects of atRA, exhibited atRA-dependent retinoic acid receptor (RAR) transactivation and transrepression of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced AP-1 activity. The c-jun-transfected MCF7 cells had increased basal AP-1 transactivation activity and increased expression of AP-1-regulated genes but were resistant to the antiproliferative effects of atRA. However, MCF7 cells transfected with a deletion mutant of c-jun, TAM-67, which lacks most of the amino-terminal transactivation domain of cJun and is unable to activate AP-1-dependent gene expression, were sensitive to the growth-inhibitory effects of atRA. These results suggest that the transactivation domain of cJun is required for induction of retinoid resistance in these breast cancer cells. atRA did not activate RAR-dependent gene transcription or transrepress 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced AP-1 activity in these cJun-overexpressing cells. Investigation of the RAR and retinoic acid X receptor expression level demonstrated that RARα and RARγ RNA expression was reduced in the c-jun-transfected MCF7 cells, whereas RARβ expression was up-regulated. However, retinoic acid responsive element DNA binding activity was intact in c-jun-transfected cells. Therefore, the mechanism by which cJun overexpression induces resistance to the growth-inhibitory effect of atRA may be through interference with atRA-dependent RAR transactivation or AP-1 transrepression, possibly through titration of essential coactivators. These results suggest that the antiproliferative effects of retinoids can be overcome by cJun overexpression.

1

This work was supported by San Antonio Cancer Institute Grant P30 CA 54174 (L. M. Y.), Department of Defense Grant DAMD-17-96-1-6225 (to P. H. B. and D. M. M.), and a grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

This content is only available via PDF.