First identified as a developmental gene, HOXB9 is also known to be involved in tumor biological processes, and its aberrant expression correlates with poor prognosis of various cancers. In this study, we isolated a homeodomain-less, novel HOXB9 variant (HOXB9v) from human breast cancer cell line-derived mRNA. We confirmed that the novel variant was produced from variationless HOXB9 genomic DNA. RT-PCR of mRNA isolated from clinical samples and reanalysis of publicly available RNA-seq data proved that the new transcript is frequently expressed in human breast cancer. Exogenous HOXB9v expression significantly enhanced the proliferation of breast cancer cells, and gene ontology analysis indicated that apoptotic signaling was suppressed in these cells. Considering that HOXB9v lacks key domains of homeobox proteins, its behavior could be completely different from that of the previously described variationless HOXB9. Because none of the previous studies on HOXB9 have considered the presence of HOXB9v, further research analyzing the two transcripts individually is warranted to re-evaluate the true role of HOXB9 in cancer.
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