Hypothyroidism has been associated with significantly elevated risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), although the precise underlying mechanisms remain unknown at present. Thyroid hormone (T 3) and its receptor (TR) are involved in metabolism and growth. Endoglin is a T 3 /TR candidate target gene identified from our previous studies. Here, we demonstrated that T 3 positively regulates endoglin mRNA and protein levels, both in vitro and in vivo. The thyroid hormone response elements of endoglin were identified at positions -2114/-2004 and -2032/-1973 of the promoter region using the electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Endoglin was downregulated in the subgroups of HCC patients and significantly associated with histology grade (negative association, P=0.001), and this expression level was significantly associated with TRα1 in these HCC patients. Our results clearly indicate that p21 is involved in T 3 -mediated suppression of cell proliferation. Knock down of endoglin expression in HCC cells facilitated p21 polyubiquitination and promoted cell proliferation in the presence of T 3. The data collectively suggest that T 3 /TR signaling suppresses cell proliferation by upregulating endoglin, in turn, affecting p21 stability. The results indicate that endoglin has a suppressor role to inhibit cell proliferation in HCC cell lines.
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