Fra-1 promotes growth and survival in RAS-transformed thyroid cells by controlling cyclin A transcription



Fra-1 is frequently overexpressed in epithelial cancers and implicated in invasiveness. We previously showed that Fra-1 plays crucial roles in RAS transformation in rat thyroid cells and mouse fibroblasts. Here, we report a novel role for Fra-1 as a regulator of mitotic progression in RAS-transformed thyroid cells. Fra-1 expression and phosphorylation are regulated during the cell cycle, peaking at G2/M. Knockdown of Fra-1 caused a proliferative block and apoptosis. Although most Fra-1-knockdown cells accumulated in G2, a fraction of cells entering M-phase underwent abortive cell division and exhibited hallmarks of genomic instability (micronuclei, lagging chromosomes and anaphase bridges). Furthermore, we established a link between Fra-1 and the cell-cycle machinery by identifying cyclin A as a novel transcriptional target of Fra-1. During the cell cycle, Fra-1 was recruited to the cyclin A gene (ccna2) promoter, binding to previously unidentified AP-1 sites and the CRE. Fra-1 also induced the expression of JunB, which in turn interacts with the cyclin A promoter. Hence, Fra-1 induction is important in thyroid tumorigenesis, critically regulating cyclin expression and cell-cycle progression.