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Open Access Research article

Human pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1 overexpression reinforces oncogene-induced senescence through CXCR2/p21 signaling in breast cancer cells

Jhen-Wei Ruan1, Yi-Chu Liao1, Ingrid Lua2, Ming-Hsun Li3, Chih-Yi Hsu4 and Ji-Hshiung Chen12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Medical Science, Tzu-Chi University, No.701, Sec. 3, Zhongyang Rd., Hualien, 97004, Taiwan

2 Department of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Tzu-Chi University, No.701, Sec. 3, Zhongyang Rd., Hualien, 97004, Taiwan

3 Department of Pathology, Buddhist Tzu-Chi General Hospital, No.707, Sec. 3, Zhongyang Rd., Hualien, 97002, Taiwan

4 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, No.201, Sec. 2, Shipai Rd., Taipei, 11217, Taiwan

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Breast Cancer Research 2012, 14:R106  doi:10.1186/bcr3226

Published: 12 July 2012



hPTTG1 (human pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1) is an oncogene overexpressed in breast cancer and several other types of cancer. Increased hPTTG1 expression has been shown to be associated with poor patient outcomes in breast cancer. Although hPTTG1 overexpression plays important roles in promoting the proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of cancer cells, it also has been suggested to induce cellular senescence. Deciphering the mechanism by which hPTTG1 overexpression induces these contradictory actions in breast cancer cells is critical to our understanding of the role of hPTTG1 in breast cancer development.


MCF-10A and MCF-7 cells were used to identify the mechanism of hPTTG1-induced senescence. The interplay between hPTTG1 overexpression and chemokine C-X-C motif receptor 2 (CXCR2)/p21-dependent senescence in tumor growth and metastasis of MCF-7 cells was investigated by orthotopic transplantation of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. Additionally, human invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) tissue arrays were used to confirm the hPTTG1/CXCR2/p21 axis established in vitro.


In this study, we investigated the mechanism of hPTTG1-induced senescence as well as its role in breast cancer progression and metastasis. Herein, we showed that hPTTG1 overexpression reinforced senescence through the CXCR2/p21 signaling. Furthermore, hPTTG1 overexpression activated NF-κB signaling to transactivate the expression of interleukin (IL)-8 and growth-regulated oncogene alpha (GROα) to execute CXCR2 signaling in MCF-7 cells. When CXCR2 expression was knocked down in hPTTG1-overexpressing MCF-7 cells, hPTTG1-induced senescence was abrogated by alleviating CXCR2-induced p21 expression. In a mouse model, CXCR2-mediated senescence limited hPTTG1-induced tumor growth and metastasis. Moreover, CXCR2 knockdown in hPTTG1-overexpressing MCF-7 tumors dramatically accelerated tumor growth and metastasis. Our in vitro and in vivo results demonstrated that hPTTG1 overexpression reinforces senescence through CXCR2 signaling, and the evasion of CXCR2/p21-dependent senescence was critical to hPTTG1 exerting its oncogenic potential. Interestingly, although CXCR2-dependent senescence restrained hPTTG1-induced tumor progression, when MCF-7 cells and hPTTG1-overexpressing MCF-7 cells were co-transplanted into the mammary fat pads of SCID mice, hPTTG1-overexpressing senescent cells created a metastasis-promoting microenvironment that promoted lung metastasis of the MCF-7 cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of human breast tumor samples also confirmed the importance of the hPTTG1/CXCR2 axis in promoting breast cancer metastasis.


Our findings provide novel molecular insights into hPTTG1-induced senescence and identify a novel mechanism by which hPTTG1 promotes metastasis by regulating the senescence-associated microenvironment.