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Cholesterol Synthetase DHCR24 Induced by Insulin Aggravates Cancer Invasion and Progesterone Resistance in Endometrial Carcinoma

3β-Hydroxysteroid-Δ24 reductase (DHCR24), the final enzyme of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, has been associated with urogenital neoplasms. However, the function of DHCR24 in endometrial cancer (EC) remains largely elusive. Here, we analyzed the expression profile of DHCR24 and the progesterone receptor (PGR) in our tissue microarray of EC (n = 258), the existing EC database in GEO (Gene Expression Omnibus), and TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas). We found that DHCR24 was significantly elevated in patients with EC, and that the up-regulation of DHCR24 was associated with advanced clinical stage, histological grading, vascular invasion, lymphatic metastasis, and reduced overall survival. In addition, DHCR24 expression could be induced by insulin though STAT3, which directly binds to the promoter elements of DHCR24, as demonstrated by ChIP-PCR and luciferase assays. Furthermore, genetically silencing DHCR24 inhibited the metastatic ability of endometrial cancer cells and up-regulated PGR expression, which made cells more sensitive to progestin. Taken together, we have demonstrated for the first time the crucial role of the insulin/STAT3/DHCR24/PGR axis in the progression of EC by modulating the metastasis and progesterone response, which could serve as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of EC with progesterone receptor loss.

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