Retinoic acid (RA) induces differentiation of S91 melanoma cells through activation of RA receptor (RAR)γ without affecting cell viability. The novel RARγ-agonist CD437 (AHPN), however, also induces concomitant apoptosis through an unknown mechanism which was investigated here. By utilizing DNA microarray analysis, five apoptosis-associated, CD437-induced transcripts (CITs) were identified. Interestingly, all CITs are also regulated by p53 in a DNA damage response, and consistent with this interpretation, CD437 was found to cause DNA adduct-formation. However, p53 is not required for CD437-dependent regulation of CITs. Among this set of genes, induction of p21WAF1/CIP1 is likely to be responsible for early S-phase growth-arrest of CD437-treated cells, whereas ei24 is a critical mediator of CD437-induced apoptosis in S91 cells. These data suggest an RAR-independent mechanism in which CD437 causes DNA adduct-formation, resulting in induction of a p53-independent DNA damage response, and subsequent growth-arrest and apoptosis. CD437-mediated DNA adduct-formation may also explain its apoptotic effects in other cell types.
- Retinoic acid receptor