Notch3 overexpression causes arrest of cell cycle progression by inducing Cdh1 expression in human breast cancer cells

Uncontrolled cell proliferation, genomic instability and cancer are closely related to the abnormal activation of the cell cycle. Therefore, blocking the cell cycle of cancer cells has become one of the key goals for treating malignancies. Unfortunately, the factors affecting cell cycle progression remain largely unknown. In this study, we have explored the effects of Notch3 on the cell cycle in breast cancer cell lines by 3 methods: overexpressing the intra-cellular domain of Notch3 (N3ICD), knocking-down Notch3 by RNA interference, and using X-ray radiation exposure. The results revealed that overexpression of Notch3 arrested the cell cycle at the G0/G1 phase, and inhibited the proliferation and colony-formation rate in the breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231. Furthermore, overexpressing N3ICD upregulated Cdh1 expression and resulted in p27Kip accumulation by accelerating Skp2 degradation. Conversely, silencing of Notch3 in the breast cancer cell line, MCF-7, caused a decrease in expression levels of Cdh1 and p27Kip at both the protein and mRNA levels, while the expression of Skp2 only increased at the protein level. Correspondingly, there was an increase in the percentage of cells in the G0/G1 phase and an elevated proliferative ability and colony-formation rate, which may be caused by alterations of the Cdh1/Skp2/p27 axis. These results were also supported by exposing MDA-MB-231 cells or MCF-7 treated with siN3 to X-irradiation at various doses. Overall, our data showed that overexpression of N3ICD upregulated the expression of Cdh1 and caused p27Kip accumulation by accelerating Skp2 degradation, which in turn led to cell cycle arrest at the G0/G1 phase, in the context of proliferating breast cancer cell lines. These findings help to illuminate the precision therapy targeted to cell cycle progression, required for cancer treatment.