The autocrine platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)/PDGF receptor (PDGFR) signaling pathway promotes breast cancer tumorigenesis, but the mechanisms for its dysregulation in breast cancer are largely unknown. In the study, we identified PDGF-A as a novel transcriptional target of FoxM1. FoxM1 directly binds to two sites in the promoter of PDGF-A and activates its transcription. Mutation of these FoxM1- binding sites diminished PDGF-A promoter activity. Increased FoxM1 resulted in the upregulation of PDGF-A, which led to activation of the AKT pathway and increased breast cancer cell proliferation and tumorigenesis, whereas knockdown of FoxM1 does the opposite. Blocking AKT activation with a phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT inhibitor decreased FoxM1-induced cell proliferation. Moreover, PDGF/AKT pathway upregulates the expression of FoxM1 in breast cancer cells. Knockdown of PDGF-A or blockade of AKT activation inhibited the expression of FoxM1 in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, expression of FoxM1 significantly correlated with the expression of PDGF-A and the activated AKT signaling pathway in human breast cancer specimens. Our study demonstrates a novel positive regulatory feedback loop between FoxM1 and the PDGF/AKT signaling pathway; this loop contributes to breast cancer cell growth and tumorigenesis.
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