Genistein, a dietary isoflavone, down-regulates the MDM2 oncogene at both transcriptional and posttranslational levels

Mao Li, Zhuo Zhang, Donald L. Hill, Xinbin Chen, Hui Wang, Ruiwen Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Although genistein has chemopreventive effects in several human malignancies, including cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate, the mechanisms of action are not fully understood. Herein we report novel mechanisms whereby genistein down-regulates the MDM2 oncogene, perhaps explaining some of its anticancer activities. In a dose- and time-dependent manner, genistein reduced MDM2 protein and mRNA levels in human cell lines of breast, colon, and prostate cancer; primary fibroblasts; and breast epithelial cells. The inhibitory effects were found at both transcriptional and posttranslational levels and were independent of tyrosine kinase pathways. We found that the NFAT transcription site in the region between -132 and +33 in the MDM2 P2 promoter was responsive to genistein. At the posttranslational level, genistein induced ubiqiuitination of MDM2, which led to its degradation. Additionally, genistein induced apoptosis and G2 arrest and inhibited proliferation in a variety of human cancer cell lines, regardless of p53 status. We further showed that MDM2 overexpression abrogated genistein-induced apoptosis in vitro and that genistein inhibited MDM2 expression and tumor growth in PC3 xenografts. In conclusion, genistein directly down-regulates the MDM2 oncogene, representing a novel mechanism of its action that may have implications for its chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8200-8208
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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