Zinc fingers and homeoboxes 2 inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma cell proliferation and represses expression of cyclins A and e

Xuetian Yue, Zhenyu Zhang, Xiaohong Liang, Lifen Gao, Xiaoning Zhang, Di Zhao, Xiao Liu, Hongxin Ma, Min Guo, Brett T. Spear, Yaoqin Gong, Chunhong Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Zinc-fingers and homeoboxes 2 (ZHX2) represses transcription of several genes associated with liver cancer. However, little is known about the role of ZHX2 in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the mechanisms by which ZHX2 might affect proliferation of HCC cells. Methods: We overexpressed and knocked down ZHX2 in HCC cells and analyzed the effects on proliferation, colony formation, and the cell cycle. We also analyzed the effects of ZHX2 overexpression in growth of HepG2.2.15 tumor xenografts in nude mice. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter assays were used to measure binding of ZHX2 target promoters. Levels of ZHX2 in HCC samples were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Results: ZHX2 overexpression significantly reduced proliferation of HCC cells and growth of tumor xenografts in mice; it led to G1 arrest and reduced levels of Cyclins A and E in HCC cell lines. ZHX2 bound to promoter regions of CCNA2 (which encodes Cyclin A) and CCNE1 (which encodes Cyclin E) and inhibited their transcription. Knockdown of Cyclin A or Cyclin E reduced the increased proliferation mediated by ZHX2 knockdown. Nuclear localization of ZHX2 was required for it to inhibit proliferation of HCC cells in culture and in mice. Nuclear localization of ZHX2 was reduced in human HCC samples, even in small tumors (diameter, <5 cm), compared with adjacent nontumor tissues. Moreover, reduced nuclear levels of ZHX2 correlated with reduced survival times of patients, high levels of tumor microvascularization, and hepatocyte proliferation. Conclusions: ZHX2 inhibits HCC cell proliferation by preventing expression of Cyclins A and E, and reduces growth of xenograft tumors in mice. Loss of nuclear ZHX2 might be an early step in the development of HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1559-1570.e2
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This work was supported in part by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 30972753 ), the Programme for New Century Excellent Talents in University (no. NECT-10-0524 ), the Independent Innovation Foundation of Shandong University , the Shandong Provincial Nature Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scholars (no. JQ200907 ); and the National Institutes of Health (grant DK95866 to B.T.S.).


  • CCK-8
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Mouse Model
  • shRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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