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Extensive transcriptional complexity during hypoxia-regulated expression of the myoglobin gene in cancer

Extensive transcriptional complexity during hypoxia-regulated expression of the myoglobin gene in cancer

Human Molecular Genetics 23(2): 479-490

Recently, the ectopic expression of myoglobin (MB) was reported in human epithelial cancer cell lines and breast tumor tissues, where MB expression increased with hypoxia. The better prognosis of MB-positive breast cancer patients suggested that the globin exerts a tumor-suppressive role, possibly by impairing mitochondrial activity in hypoxic breast carcinoma cells. To better understand MB gene regulation in cancer, we systematically investigated the architecture of the human MB gene, its transcripts and promoters. In silico analysis of transcriptome data from normal human tissues and cancer cell lines, followed by RACE-PCR verification, revealed seven novel exons in the MB gene region, most of which are untranslated exons located 5'-upstream of the coding DNA sequence (CDS). Sixteen novel alternatively spliced MB transcripts were detected, most of which predominantly occur in tumor tissue or cell lines. Quantitative RT-PCR analyses of MB expression in surgical breast cancer specimen confirmed the preferential usage of a hitherto unknown, tumor-associated MB promoter, which was functionally validated by luciferase reporter gene assays. In line with clinical observations of MB up-regulation in avascular breast tumors, the novel cancer-associated MB splice variants exhibited increased expression in tumor cells subjected to experimental hypoxia. The novel gene regulatory mechanisms unveiled in this study support the idea of a non-canonical role of MB during carcinogenesis.

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Accession: 053164068

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PMID: 24026678

DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddt438

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