Many members of the nearly 200-strong homeobox gene family have been implicated in cancer, mostly following ectopic expression. In this study we analyzed homeobox gene expression in Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) cell lines. Both reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using degenerate primers and microarray profiling identified consistently up-regulated HOXB9 expression. Analysis of HOXB9 regulation in HL cells revealed E2F3A and BMI1 as activator and repressor, respectively. Furthermore, a constitutively active ERK5 pathway was identified in all HL cell lines analyzed as well as primary HL cells. Our data show that ERK5 probably mediates HOXB9 expression by repressing BMI1. In addition, expression analysis of the neighboring microRNA gene mir-196a1 revealed coregulation with HOXB9. Functional analysis of HOXB9 by knockdown and overexpression assays indicated their influence on both proliferation and apoptosis in HL cells. In summary, we identified up-regulation of HOXB9 in HL mediated by constitutively active ERK5 signaling which may represent novel therapeutic targets in HL.

  • Submitted August 30, 2006.
  • Accepted November 18, 2006.
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