J Cancer 2016; 7(11):1374-1382. doi:10.7150/jca.14669 This issue
1. School of Dentistry and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
2. North Hospital, Shenyang, China
# These authors contribute to the work equally.
XRCC4-like factor (XLF), also known as Cernunnos, is a protein encoded by the human NHEJ1 gene and an important repair factor for DNA double-strand breaks. In this study, we have found that XLF is over-expressed in HPV(+) versus HPV(-) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and significantly down-regulated in the HNSCC cell lines expressing high level of mutant p53 protein versus those cell lines harboring wild-type TP53 gene with low p53 protein expression. We have also demonstrated that Werner syndrome protein (WRN), a member of the NHEJ repair pathway, binds to both mutant p53 protein and NHEJ1 gene promoter, and siRNA knockdown of WRN leads to the inhibition of XLF expression in the HNSCC cells. Collectively, these findings suggest that WRN and p53 are involved in the regulation of XLF expression and the activity of WRN might be affected by mutant p53 protein in the HNSCC cells with aberrant TP53 gene mutations, due to the interaction of mutant p53 with WRN. As a result, the expression of XLF in these cancer cells is significantly suppressed. Our study also suggests that XLF is over-expressed in HPV(+) HNSCC with low expression of wild type p53, and might serve as a potential biomarker for HPV(+) HNSCC. Further studies are warranted to investigate the mechanisms underlying the interactive role of WRN and XLF in NHEJ repair pathway.
Keywords: XLF, mutant p53, biomarker, HPV, HNSCC