Hmga2 translocation induced in skin tumorigenesis

Yong Li, Xiang Ying Pi, Kelsey Boland, Sonali Lad, Kelly Johnson, Catherine Verfaillie, Rebecca J. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hmga2 protein, a transcription factor involved in chromatin architecture, is expressed chiefly during development, where it has many key biological functions. When expressed in adult tissues from in various organs, Hmga2 is always related to cancer development. The role of Hmga2 in skin tumorigenesis is, however, not yet understood. We demonstrated that Hmga2 can be found in non-transformed epidermis, specifically located to the membrane of keratinocytes (KCs) in epidermis. Ex vivo culture of KCs and development of skin carcinomas in DMBA and TPA mouse models was associated with translocation of the Hmga2 protein from the membrane into the nucleus, where Hmga2 induced its own expression by binding to the Hmga2 promoter. Panobinostat, an HDAC inhibitor, downregulated Hmga2 expression by preventing Hmga2 to bind its own promoter, and thus inhibiting Hmga2 promoter activity. Hmga2 translocation to the nucleus could in part be prevented by an inhibitor for ROCK1. Our findings demonstrate that upon program of benign papilloma to malignant cSCC of skin tumorigenesis, Hmga2 translocates in a ROCK-dependent manner from the membrane to the nucleus, where it serves as an autoregulatory transcription factor, causing cell transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30019-30029
Number of pages11
Issue number18
Early online date16 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Hmga2
  • Keratinocytes
  • Panobinostat
  • ROCK
  • Skin tumorigenesis


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