Serotonin 5-HT7 receptor is a biomarker poor prognostic factor and induces proliferation of triple-negative breast cancer cells through FOXM1

Venhar Cınar, Zuhal Hamurcu, Ahsen Guler, Nursultan Nurdinov, Bulent Ozpolat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive type of breast cancer and associated with poor prognosis and shorter survival due to significant genetic heterogeneity, drug resistance and lack of effective targeted therapeutics. Therefore, novel molecular targets and therapeutic strategies are needed to improve patient survival. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) has been shown to induce growth stimulatory effects in breast cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms by which 5-HT exerts its oncogenic effects in TNBC still are not well understood.

METHODS: Normal breast epithelium (MCF10A) and two TNBC cells (MDA-MB-231, BT-546) and MCF-7 cells (ER +) were used to investigate effects of 5-HT7 receptor. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-based knockdown and metergoline (5-HT7 antagonist) were used to inhibit the activity of 5-HT7. Cell proliferation and colony formation were evaluated using MTS cell viability and colony formation assays, respectively. Western blotting was used to investigate 5-HT7, FOXM1 and its downstream targets protein expressions.

RESULTS: We demonstrated that 5-HT induces cell proliferation of TNBC cells and expression of 5-HT7 receptor and FOXM1 oncogenic transcription factor. We found that expression of 5-HT7 receptor is up-regulated in TNBC cells and higher 5-HT7 receptor expression is associated with poor patient prognosis and shorter patient survival. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of 5-HT7 receptor by siRNA and metergoline, respectively, suppressed TNBC cell proliferation and FOXM1 and its downstream mediators, including eEF2-Kinase (eEF2K) and cyclin-D1.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest for the first time that the 5-HT7 receptor promotes FOXM1, eEF2K and cyclin D1 signaling to support TNBC cell proliferation; thus, inhibition of 5-HT7 receptor/FOXM1 signaling may be used as a potential therapeutic strategy for targeting TNBC. 5-HT induces cell proliferation of TNBC cells through 5-HT7 receptor signaling. Also, genetic and pharmacological inhibition of 5-HT7 by RNAi (siRNA) and metergoline HTR7 antagonist, respectively inhibits FOXM1 oncogenic transcription factor and suppresses TNBC cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1120
Number of pages15
JournalBreast Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • 5-HT7 receptor
  • Breast cancer
  • FOXM1
  • Metergoline
  • Serotonin
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Prognosis
  • Humans
  • RNA, Small Interfering/genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1/genetics
  • Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Metergoline/pharmacology
  • Cyclin D1/genetics
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Serotonin/pharmacology
  • Carcinogenesis/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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