Survivin has emerged as a unique regulator of cell death through its response to growth factors, such as basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), which we have previously shown to be mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) dependent. The transcriptional complex myc/max is an oncogene that lies downstream of the MAPK pathway, suggesting a possible role in survivin's regulation. In this study, we investigated the ability of bFGF to induce signalling of the MAPK effector transcription factor c-myc in human breast cancer. Treatment of SK-BR-3 breast cancer cell line with growth factor induced survivin expression and recruitment of c-myc to its response element in the promoter region of the target gene survivin as demonstrated by electromobility shift analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. The promoter region of survivin was assessed using bioinformatic techniques and DNA footprinting. Overexpression of c-myc increased survivin protein expression. This effect was eliminated when siRNA against c-myc was transfected into the cells. c-Myc drove transcriptional activity of survivin when transfected into SK-BR-3 cells with a luciferase reporter vector harbouring the c-myc response element specific for survivin. Using confocal fluorescent microscopy, myc was located to the nucleus of breast tumour epithelial cells and was found to be significantly associated with survivin (P < 0.0001). These data provide evidence that growth factors can signal through the transcription factor c-myc in human breast cancer. They also indicate a role for c-myc in the transcriptional regulation of survivin in breast cancer.
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