The RelA NF-κB subunit and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) cooperate to transactivate the c-myc promoter in mammary cells

Dong W. Kim, Lee Gazourian, Shafat A. Quadri, [No Value] Raphaëlle, David H. Sherr, Gail E. Sonenshein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


NF-κB/Rel transcription factors regulate many genes involved in control of cellular proliferation, neoplastic transformation, and apoptosis, including the c-myc oncogene. Recently, we have observed that levels of NF-κB and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which mediates malignant transformation by environmental carcinogens, are highly elevated and appear constitutively active in breast cancer cells. Rel factors have been found to functionally interact with other transcription factors. Here we demonstrate a physical and functional association between the RelA subunit of NF-κB and AhR resulting in the activation of c-myc gene transcription in breast cancer cells. RelA and AhR proteins were co-immunoprecipitated from cytoplasmic and nuclear extracts of non-malignant MCF-10F breast epithelial and malignant Hs578T breast cancer cells. In transient cotransfection, RelA and AhR gene products demonstrated cooperation in transactivation of the c-myc promoter, which was dependent on the NF-κB elements, and in induction of endogenous c-Myc protein levels. A novel AhR/RelA-containing NF-κB element binding complex was identified by electrophoretic mobility shift analysis of nuclear extracts from RelA and AhR co-transfected Hs578T cells. Thus, the RelA and AhR proteins functionally cooperate to bind to NF-κB elements and induce c-myc gene expression. These findings suggest a novel signaling mechanism whereby the Ah receptor can stimulate proliferation and tumorigenesis of mammary cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5498-5506
Number of pages9
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 16 2000


  • AhR
  • Breast cancer
  • NF-κB
  • RelA
  • c-myc oncogene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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