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Breast cancer remains in urgent need of reliable diagnostic and prognostic markers. Zinc finger and BTB/POZ domain-containing family proteins (ZBTBs) are important transcription factors functioning as oncogenes or tumor suppressors. The role and regulation of ZBTB16 in breast cancer remain to be established. Reverse-transcription PCR and methylation-specific PCR were applied to detect expression and methylation of ZBTB16 in breast cancer cell lines and tissues. The effects of ZBTB16 in breast cancer cells were examined via cell viability, CCK8, Transwell, colony formation, and flow cytometric assays. Xenografts and immunohistochemistry analyses were conducted to determine the effects of ZBTB16 on tumorigenesis in vivo. The specific mechanisms of ZBTB16 were further investigated using Western blot, qRT-PCR, luciferase assay, and co-IP. ZBTB16 was frequently downregulated in breast cancer cell lines in correlation with its promoter CpG methylation status. Restoration of ZBTB16 expression led to induction of G2/M phase arrest and apoptosis, inhibition of migration and invasion, reversal of EMT, and suppression of cell proliferation, both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, ectopically expressed ZBTB16 formed heterodimers with ZBTB28 or BCL6/ZBTB27 and exerted tumor suppressor effects through upregulation of ZBTB28 and antagonistic activity on BCL6. Low expression of ZBTB16 is associated with its promoter hypermethylation and restoration of ZBTB16 inhibits tumorigenesis. ZBTB16 functions as a tumor suppressor through upregulating ZBTB28 and antagonizing BCL6. Our findings also support the possibility of ZBTB16 being a prognostic biomarker for breast cancer.


Jin He, Mingjun Wu, Lei Xiong, Yijia Gong, Renjie Yu, Weiyan Peng, Lili Li, Li Li, Shaorong Tian, Yan Wang, Qian Tao, Tingxiu Xiang. BTB/POZ zinc finger protein ZBTB16 inhibits breast cancer proliferation and metastasis through upregulating ZBTB28 and antagonizing BCL6/ZBTB27. Clinical epigenetics. 2020 Jun 09;12(1):82

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PMID: 32517789

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