Transcription factor AP4 mediates cell fate decisions: To divide, age, or die

Matthew Man Kin Wong, Sancy Mary Joyson, Heiko Hermeking*, Sung Kay Chiu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Activating Enhancer-Binding Protein 4 (AP4)/transcription factor 4 (TFAP4) is a basic-helix-loop-helix-leucine-zipper transcription factor that was first identified as a protein bound to SV40 promoters more than 30 years ago. Almost 15 years later, AP4 was characterized as a target of the c-Myc transcription factor, which is the product of a prototypic oncogene that is activated in the majority of tumors. Interestingly, AP4 seems to represent a central hub downstream of c-Myc and N-Myc that mediates some of their functions, such as proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Elevated AP4 expression is associated with progression of cancer and poor patient prognosis in multiple tumor types. Deletion of AP4 in mice points to roles of AP4 in the control of stemness, tumor initiation and adaptive immunity. Interestingly, ex vivo AP4 inactivation results in increased DNA damage, senescence, and apoptosis, which may be caused by defective cell cycle progression. Here, we will summarize the roles of AP4 as a transcriptional repressor and activator of target genes and the contribution of protein and non-coding RNAs encoded by these genes, in regulating the above mentioned processes. In addition, proteins interacting with or regulating AP4 and the cellular signaling pathways altered after AP4 dysregulation in tumor cells will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number676
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell proliferation
  • EMT
  • Transcription factor AP4
  • Tumorigenesis


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