Runt-related transcription factor 2 attenuates the transcriptional activity as well as DNA damage-mediated induction of pro-apoptotic TAp73 to regulate chemosensitivity

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Although runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2) is known to be an essential key transcription factor for osteoblast differentiation and bone formation, RUNX2 also plays a pivotal role in the regulation of p53-dependent DNA damage response. In the present study, we report that, in addition to p53, RUNX2 downregulates pro-apoptotic TAp73 during DNA damage-dependent cell death. Upon adriamycin (ADR) exposure, human osteosarcoma-derived U2OS cells underwent cell death in association with an upregulation of TAp73 and various p53/TAp73-target gene products together with RUNX2. Small interfering RNA-mediated silencing of p73 resulted in a marked reduction in ADR-induced p53/TAp73-target gene expression, suggesting that TAp73 is responsible for the ADR-dependent DNA damage response. Immunoprecipitation and transient transfection experiments demonstrated that RUNX2 forms a complex with TAp73 and impairs its transcriptional activity. Notably, knockdown of RUNX2 stimulated ADR-induced cell death accompanied by a massive induction of TAp73 expression, indicating that RUNX2 downregulates TAp73 expression. Consistent with this notion, the overexpression of RUNX2 suppressed ADR-dependent cell death, which was associated with a remarkable downregulation of TAp73 and p53/TAp73-target gene expression. Collectively, our present findings strongly suggest that RUNX2 attenuates the transcriptional activity and ADR-mediated induction of TAp73, and may provide novel insights into understanding the molecular basis behind the development and/or maintenance of chemoresistance. Thus, we propose that the silencing of RUNX2 might be an attractive strategy for improving the chemosensitivity of malignant cancers.

Structured digital abstract

Depletion of RUNX2 enhances TAp73 transcription as well as adriamycin (ADR)-induced DNA damage response. Consistent with these observations, forced expression of RUNX2 trans-represses TAp73. Upon ADR exposure, RUNX2 forms a complex with TAp73 and prohibits its transcriptional activity. Together, our present results strongly suggest that RUNX2 attenuates TAp73-dependent proper DNA damage response and thereby contributing to chemoresistance of malignant cancers.

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