Research Papers:

Homeobox protein VentX induces p53-independent apoptosis in cancer cells

Hong Gao _, Bin Wu, Yi Le and Zhenglun Zhu

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:39719-39729. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9238

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Hong Gao1,2,*, Bin Wu1,3,*, Yi Le1, Zhenglun Zhu1

1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 02115, Massachusetts, USA

2Current address: Department of Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, 02115, Massachusetts, USA

3Current address: Department of Gastroenterology, Third Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, 510630, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhenglun Zhu, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: ventX, apoptosis, p53, caspase-3, PARP

Received: December 18, 2015    Accepted: April 24, 2016    Published: May 09, 2016


Identifying novel tumor suppressors holds promise for improving cancer treatment. Our recent studies identified VentX, a homeobox transcriptional factor, as a putative tumor suppressor. Here we demonstrate that VentX exerts strong inhibitory effects on the proliferation and survival of cancer cells, but not primary transformed cells, such as 293T cells. Mechanistically, both in vitro and in vivo data showed that VentX induces apoptosis of cancer cells in a p53-independent manner. We found that VentX expression can be induced by chemotherapeutic agents. Taken together, our findings suggest that VentX may function as a novel therapeutic target in cancer treatment.

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