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FOXO transcription factors at the interface between longevity and tumor suppression

Abstract

A wide range of human diseases, including cancer, has a striking age-dependent onset. However, the molecular mechanisms that connect aging and cancer are just beginning to be unraveled. FOXO transcription factors are promising candidates to serve as molecular links between longevity and tumor suppression. These factors are major substrates of the protein kinase Akt. In the presence of insulin and growth factors, FOXO proteins are relocalized from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and degraded via the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway. In the absence of growth factors, FOXO proteins translocate to the nucleus and upregulate a series of target genes, thereby promoting cell cycle arrest, stress resistance, or apoptosis. Stress stimuli also trigger the relocalization of FOXO factors into the nucleus, thus allowing an adaptive response to stress stimuli. Consistent with the notion that stress resistance is highly coupled with lifespan extension, activation of FOXO transcription factors in worms and flies increases longevity. Emerging evidence also suggests that FOXO factors play a tumor suppressor role in a variety of cancers. Thus, FOXO proteins translate environmental stimuli into changes in gene expression programs that may coordinate organismal longevity and tumor suppression.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the members of the Brunet lab and Dr J Lieberman for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported in part by PHS Grant Number CA09302, awarded by the National Cancer Institute, DHHS.

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Greer, E., Brunet, A. FOXO transcription factors at the interface between longevity and tumor suppression. Oncogene 24, 7410–7425 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.onc.1209086

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Keywords

  • FOXO family of Forkhead transcription factors
  • longevity
  • tumor suppression
  • Akt
  • p53
  • SIRT1
  • stress stimuli

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