The tumor-promoting activity of 2-acetylaminofluorene is associated with disruption of the p53 signaling pathway and the balance between apoptosis and cell proliferation

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The aromatic amine 2-acetylaminofluore (2-AAF) is a powerful complete genotoxic rat liver carcinogen that induces tumors without any additional interventions. While the tumor-initiating genotoxic activity of 2-AAF is well established, its tumor-promotion activity is far less understood. It is believed that the tumor-promoting property of 2-AAF is associated with selective enhancement of cell replication and sustained suppression of apoptosis in initiated cells. In the present study, we investigated the underlying mechanisms of tumor-promoting events induced by 2-AAF-exposure. Male Sprague–Dawley rats were fed NIH-31 diet containing 0.02% of 2-AAF for 12 and 24 weeks, and the expression pattern of genes associated with the p53-signaling pathway and microRNA genes was determined in the livers of control and 2-AAF-fed rats. The results indicate that the tumor-promoting property of 2-AAF during hepatocarcinogenesis is associated predominantly with the up-regulation of anti-apoptotic growth-related genes and down-regulation of expression of pro-apoptotic genes. This disrupts the balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis, which leads to consequential unrestricted cell proliferation, especially of initiated cells. Also, the long-term-administration of 2-AAF resulted in disruption of regulatory miR-34a-p53 feed-back loop that mediates apoptosis. This was evidenced by an increased expression of miR-34a in response to genotoxic effects of 2-AAF in the absence of p53 up-regulation, and loss of regulatory control of mir-34a on SIRT1 function. Additionally, the livers of 2-AAF-exposed rats were characterized by the substantial deregulation of expression of miR-18, miR-21, miR-182, and miR-200 family, microRNAs involved in control of apoptosis/cell proliferation and cell–cell contact pathways, two major pathways disrupted during the promotion stage of hepatocarcinogenesis.

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