Down-regulation and antiproliferative role of C/EBPα in lung cancer

Balazs Halmos, Daniel D. Karp, Olivier Kocher, Claudia S. Huettner, Daniel G. Tenen, Katalin Ferenczi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


The transcription factor, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein α (C/EBPα) is important in the terminal differentiation of granulocytes, hepatocytes, and adipocytes, and recurrent mutations of C/EBPα were described in acute myeloid leukemia. In the lung, C/EBPα is expressed in bronchial cells and type II pneumocytes. Abnormal proliferation of the latter cell type was reported in C/EBPα knockout mice. We determined the expression of C/EBPα by Northern blot analysis in 30 lung cancer cell lines and found significant down-regulation in 24 cell lines. Immunohistochemical study of primary tumor specimens showed undetectable or low expression of C/EBPα in 23 of 53 specimens. Its expression was more frequently down-regulated in adenocarcinoma and poorly differentiated cancer specimens than in squamous cell cancers. A higher frequency of reduced expression was found in more advanced stages. To investigate the consequences of C/EBPα expression in lung cancer cells, we stably transfected two cell lines that do not express the gene (Calu1 and H358) with a plasmid allowing for induction of C/EBPα protein expression. Induction of C/EBPα led to significant growth reduction attributable to proliferation arrest, morphological changes characteristic of differentiation, and apoptosis. These results suggest that C/EBPα is down-regulated in a large proportion of lung cancers and that it has growth-inhibitory properties in airway epithelial cells. Genetic analysis of the C/EBPα gene is in progress to fully evaluate its role as a novel tumor suppressor in lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-534
Number of pages7
JournalCancer research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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