Chemopreventive function of retinoid X receptors in human squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

Guojun Li, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Retinoid therapy has been successful for the treatment of skin squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). A suppression of the predominant retinoid X receptor expressed in skin, retinoid X receptor α (RXRα), has been reported in skin SCC. These observations have led to the hypothesis that retinoid receptor loss contributes to the tumorigenic phenotype of epithelial cancers. To test this hypothesis, the RXRα gene was mapped in order to generate a targeting construct. Additionally the transcriptional regulation of the human RXRα a gene in keratinocytes was characterized after identifying the transcription initiation sites, the promoter, and enhancer regions of this gene. The structure is highly conserved between human and mouse. A nontumorigenic human skin-derived cell line called near diploid immortalized keratinocytes (NIKS) has the advantage of growing as organotypic raft cultures, under physiological conditions closely resembling in-vivo squamous stratification. We have exploited the raft culture technique to develop an in-vitro model for skin SCC progression that includes the NIKS cells, HaCaT cells, a premalignant cell line, and SRB 12-p9 cells, a tumorigenic SCC skin cell line. The differentiation, proliferation and nuclear receptor ligand response characteristics of this system were studied and significant and novel results were obtained. RXRs are obligate heterodimerization partners with many of the nuclear hormone receptors, including retinoic acid receptors (RARs), vitamin D3 receptors (VDR), thyroid hormone receptors (T3 R) and peroxisome proliferator activate receptors (PPARs), which are all known to be active in skin. Treatment of the three cell lines in raft culture with the RXR specific ligand BMS649, BMS961 (RARγ-specific), vitamin D3 (VDR ligand), thryoid hormone (T3R ligand) and clofibrate (PPARa ligand), and the combination of BMS649 with each of the 4 receptor partner ligands, resulted in distinct effects on differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis. The effects of activation of RXRs in each of the four-receptor pathways; in the context of skin SCC progression, with an emphasis on the VDR/RXR pathway, are discussed. These studies will lead to a better understanding of RXRα action in human skin and will help determine its role in SCC tumorigenesis, as well as its potential as a target for the prevention, treatment, and control of skin cancer.

Subject Area

Public health|Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Li, Guojun, "Chemopreventive function of retinoid X receptors in human squamous cell carcinoma of the skin" (2002). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3131262.