In humans, aromatase (CYP19) gene expression is regulated via alternative promoters. Activation of each promoter gives rise to a CYP19 mRNA species with a unique 5'-untranslated region. Inhibition of aromatase has been reported to downregulate lung tumor growth. The genetic basis for CYP19 gene expression and aromatase activity in lung cancer remains poorly understood. We analyzed tissues from 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to evaluate CYP19 promoter usage and promoter-specific aromatase mRNA levels in NSCLC tumor tissues and adjacent non-malignant tissues. CYP19 promoter usage was determined by multiplex RT-PCR and aromatase mRNA levels were measured with real-time RT-PCR. In non-malignant tissues, aromatase mRNA was primarily derived from activation of CYP19 promoter I.4. Although promoter I.4 usage was also dominant in tumor tissues, I.4 activation was significantly lower compared with adjacent non-malignant tissues. Activity of promoters I.3, I.1 and I.7 was significantly higher in tumor tissues compared with non-malignant tissues. In 4 of 15 cases of non-small cell lung cancer, switching from CYP19 promoter I.4 to the alternative promoters II, I.1 or I.7 was observed. In 9 cases, there were significantly higher levels of aromatase mRNA in lung tumor tissues compared with adjacent non-malignant tissues. These findings suggest aberrant activation of alternative CYP19 promoters that may lead to upregulation of local aromatase expression in some cases of NSCLC. Further studies are needed to examine the impact of alternative CYP19 promoter usage on local estrogen levels and lung tumor growth.
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Promoter usage
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cancer Research