Novel aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonist suppresses migration and invasion of breast cancer cells

Hamza Hanieh, Omar Mohafez, Hairul Ibrahim, Abdullah Alzahrani, Mohaammad Ismail, Krishnaraj Thirugnanasambantham

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background Despite the remarkable progress to fight against breast cancer, metastasis remains the dominant cause of treatment failure and recurrence. Therefore, control of invasiveness potential of breast cancer cells is crucial. Accumulating evidences suggest Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), a helix-loop-helix transcription factor, as a promising target to control migration and invasion in breast cancer cells. Thus, an Ahr-based exploration was performed to identify a new Ahr agonist with inhibitory potentials on cancer cell motility. Methods For prediction of potential interactions between Ahr and candidate molecules, bioinformatics analysis was carried out. The interaction of the selected ligand with Ahr and its effects on migration and invasion were examined in vitro using the MDA-MB-231 and T47D cell lines. The silencing RNAs were transfected into cells by electroporation. Expressions of micro- RNAs (miRNAs) and coding genes were quantified by real-time PCR, and the protein levels were detected by western blot. Results The in silico and in vitro results identified Flavipin as a novel Ahr agonist. It induces formation of Ahr/Ahr nuclear translocator (Arnt) heterodimer to promote the expression of cytochrome P450 family 1 subfamily A member 1 (Cyp1a1). Migration and invasion of MDA-MB- 231 and T47D cells were inhibited with Flavipin treatment in an Ahr-dependent fashion. Interestingly, Flavipin suppressed the pro-metastatic factor SRY-related HMG-box4 (Sox4) by inducing miR-212/132 cluster. Moreover, Flavipin inhibited growth and adhesion of both cell lines by suppressing gene expressions of B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl2) and integrinα4 (ITGA4). Conclusion Taken together, the results introduce Flavipin as a novel Ahr agonist, and provide first evidences on its inhibitory effects on cancer cell motility, suggesting Flavipin as a candidate to control cell invasiveness in breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0167650
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016


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