Overexpression of both RAR and RXR restores AP-1 repression in ovarian adenocarcinoma cells resistant to retinoic acid-dependent growth inhibition

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Retinoids including retinoic acid (RA) have been demonstrated to be effective growth inhibitors of a number of human cancer cell lines including ovarian adenocarcinoma cells. To begin to determine the mechanism of action by which RA inhibits the growth of ovarian carcinoma cells, we have examined AP-1 activity in two representative cell lines: CaOV-3 a RA-sensitive cell line and SK-OV-3 a RA-resistant cell line. AP-1 activity was found to be inhibited by 50% upon RA treatment of the RA-sensitive cells while there was no change in AP-1 activity following RA treatment of the RA-resistant cells. Maximal inhibition of AP-1 activity could be achieved in the RA-resistant SK-OV-3 cells by overexpression of any one of the three retinoic acid receptor (RAR) subtypes in conjunction with retinoid X receptor (RXR) α. This inhibition of AP-1 activity was nearly comparable to that of the RA-sensitive cells. A similar change in AP-1 complex formation in vitro has also been observed. These results suggest that one mechanism by which RA inhibits growth of RA-sensitive ovarian carcinoma cells is by repressing AP-1 activity. Moreover, in the RA-resistant cells the RAR/RXR signalling pathway leading to inhibition of AP-1 activity is impaired however overexpression of one of the RAR subtypes along with RXRα is sufficient to restore this pathway.

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This article was published in Oncogene, Volume 12, Issue 3, Pages 577-584.

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