Characterization and regulation of E2F activity during Caco-2 cell differentiation.
ABSTRACT The specific mechanisms controlling intestinal cell differentiation remain largely undefined. The retinoblastoma (Rb) proteins (pRb, p130, and p107) appear crucial to the terminal differentiation process of certain cells through their association and repression of E2F transcription factors. We have examined the expression of pRb-related proteins p130 and p107 as well as the regulation of E2F during spontaneous differentiation of the Caco-2 intestinal cell line. Nuclear protein levels of p130 and p107 were increased with Caco-2 differentiation. Induction of a slower-migrating E2F complex was noted in postconfluent (i.e., differentiated) Caco-2 cells; p130 protein was the predominant component of this E2F complex with a minor contribution from cyclin-dependent kinase-2. A small component of p107 binding was identified by deoxycholate release gel shift assays. In contrast, no pRb binding to E2F was noted in Caco-2 cells. In addition to increased association with p130, E2F-4 phosphorylation was markedly decreased in differentiated Caco-2 cells, whereas E2F protein levels remained unchanged. Taken together, our findings suggest that the regulation of E2F function may be an important contributing factor in the cell cycle block and spontaneous differentiation of Caco-2 cells. This regulation of E2F occurs most likely through its increased association with p130 as well as decreased phosphorylation.