Developmental factor IRF6 exhibits tumor suppressor activity in squamous cell carcinomas Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 6 (IRF6) regulates craniofacial development and epidermal proliferation. We recently showed that IRF6 is a component of a regulatory feedback loop that controls the proliferative potential of epidermal cells. IRF6 is transcriptionally activated by p63 and induces its proteasome-mediated down-regulation, thereby limiting keratinocyte proliferative potential. We hypothesized that IRF6 may also be involved in skin carcinogenesis. Hence, we analyzed IRF6 expression in a large series of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and found a strong down-regulation of IRF6 that correlated with tumor invasive and differentiation status. IRF6 down-regulation in SCC cell lines and primary tumors correlates with methylation on a CpG dinucleotide island located in its promoter region. To identify the molecular mechanisms regulating IRF6 potential tumor suppressive activity, we performed a genome-wide analysis by combining ChIP sequencing for IRF6 binding sites and gene expression profiling in primary human keratinocytes after siRNA-mediated IRF6 depletion. We observed dysregulation of cell cycle-related genes and genes involved in differentiation, cell adhesion, and cell–cell contact. Many of these genes were direct IRF6 targets. We also performed in vitro invasion assays showing that IRF6 down-regulation promotes invasive behavior and that reintroduction of IRF6 into SCC cells strongly inhibits cell growth. These results indicate a function for IRF6 in suppression of tumorigenesis in stratified epithelia.


  • Botti, Elisabetta
  • Spallone, Giulia
  • Moretti, Francesca
  • Marinari, Barbara
  • Pinetti, Valentina
  • Galanti, Sergio
  • De Meo, Paolo D'Onorio
  • De Nicola, Francesca
  • Ganci, Federica
  • Castrignanò, Tiziana
  • Pesole, Graziano
  • Chimenti, Sergio
  • Guerrini, Luisa
  • Fanciulli, Maurizio
  • Blandino, Giovanni
  • Karin, Michael
  • Costanzo, Antonio

publication date

  • August 16, 2011