Exp Dermatol. 2020 Aug 11. doi: 10.1111/exd.14174. Online ahead of print.
The high mobility group AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) gene encodes a transcription factor that is expressed during embryonic development but down-regulated in adult tissues. Its re-expression in adult tissues is often associated with tumorigenesis. In this study, we found that HMGA2 is highly expressed in human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cell lines and primary SCC tumors, but not in adjacent normal skin. In non-ultraviolet (UV)-irradiated mouse skin, baseline Hmga2 expression was detected in
the epidermis but not in hair follicles. Following chronic UV exposure, we found activation of Hmga2 in hair follicles. UV-induced mouse skin SCC tumors displayed a ubiquitous increase in Hmga2 expression compared to non-tumor bearing adjacent skin. In human SCC cells, decreased HMGA2 expression was linked with reduced cell proliferation following depletion of FOXM1 and TRIP13, two UV master regulator genes. Taken together, these findings highlight an important biomarker function of HMGA2 expression in UV-induced skin tumorigenesis and cell proliferation.