Study of FoxA pioneer factor at silent genes reveals Rfx-repressed enhancer at Cdx2 and a potential indicator of esophageal adenocarcinoma development.
ABSTRACT Understanding how silent genes can be competent for activation provides insight into development as well as cellular reprogramming and pathogenesis. We performed genomic location analysis of the pioneer transcription factor FoxA in the adult mouse liver and found that about one-third of the FoxA bound sites are near silent genes, including genes without detectable RNA polymerase II. Virtually all of the FoxA-bound silent sites are within conserved sequences, suggesting possible function. Such sites are enriched in motifs for transcriptional repressors, including for Rfx1 and type II nuclear hormone receptors. We found one such target site at a cryptic "shadow" enhancer 7 kilobases (kb) downstream of the Cdx2 gene, where Rfx1 restricts transcriptional activation by FoxA. The Cdx2 shadow enhancer exhibits a subset of regulatory properties of the upstream Cdx2 promoter region. While Cdx2 is ectopically induced in the early metaplastic condition of Barrett's esophagus, its expression is not necessarily present in progressive Barrett's with dysplasia or adenocarcinoma. By contrast, we find that Rfx1 expression in the esophageal epithelium becomes gradually extinguished during progression to cancer, i.e, expression of Rfx1 decreased markedly in dysplasia and adenocarcinoma. We propose that this decreased expression of Rfx1 could be an indicator of progression from Barrett's esophagus to adenocarcinoma and that similar analyses of other transcription factors bound to silent genes can reveal unanticipated regulatory insights into oncogenic progression and cellular reprogramming.
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ABSTRACT: Though expression of the homeobox transcription factor Nanog is generally restricted to pluripotent cells and early germ cells, many contradictory reports about Nanog’s involvement in tumorigenesis exist. To address this, a modified Tet-On system was utilized to generate Nanog-inducible mice. Following prolonged Nanog expression, phenotypic alterations were found to be restricted to the intestinal tract, leaving other major organs unaffected. Intestinal and colonic epithelium hyperplasia was observed—intestinal villi had doubled in length and hyperplastic epithelium outgrowths were seen after 7 days. Increased proliferation of crypt cells and downregulation of the tumor suppressors Cdx2 and Klf4 was detected. ChIP analysis showed physical interaction of Nanog with the Cdx2 and Klf4 promoters, indicating a regulatory conservation from embryonic development. Despite downregulation of tumor suppressors and increased proliferation, ectopic Nanog expression did not lead to tumor formation. We conclude that unlike other pluripotency-related transcription factors, Nanog cannot be considered an oncogene.Stem Cell Research 09/2014; · 3.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The information encoded in genomes supports the differentiation and function of the more than 200 unique cell types, which exist in various mammalian species. The major mechanism drivingcellular differentiation and specification is differential gene expression regulation. Cis-acting enhancers and silencers appear to have key roles in regulating the expression of mammalian genes. However, these cis-acting elements are often located very far away from the regulated gene. Therefore, it is hard to find all of them and link them to the regulated gene. An intriguing and unresolved issue of the field is to identify all of the enhancers of a particular gene and link these short regulatory sequences to the genes they regulate and thus, reliably identify gene regulatory enhancer networks. Recent advances in molecular biological methods coupled with Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies have opened up new possibilities in this area of genomics. In this review we summarize the technological advances, bioinformatics challenges and the potential molecular mechanisms allowing the construction of enhancer networks operating in specific cell types and/or activated by various signals.FEBS Letters 08/2014; · 3.34 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Metaplasia can result when injury reactivates latent developmental signaling pathways that determine cell phenotype. Barrett's esophagus is a squamous-to-columnar epithelial metaplasia caused by reflux esophagitis. Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is active in columnar-lined, embryonic esophagus and inactive in squamous-lined, adult esophagus. We showed previously that Hh signaling is reactivated in Barrett's metaplasia and overexpression of Sonic hedgehog (SHH) in mouse esophageal squamous epithelium leads to a columnar phenotype. Here, our objective was to identify Hh target genes involved in Barrett's pathogenesis. By microarray analysis, we found that the transcription factor Foxa2 is more highly expressed in murine embryonic esophagus compared with postnatal esophagus. Conditional activation of Shh in mouse esophageal epithelium induced FOXA2, while FOXA2 expression was reduced in Shh knockout embryos, establishing Foxa2 as an esophageal Hh target gene. Evaluation of patient samples revealed FOXA2 expression in Barrett's metaplasia, dysplasia, and adenocarcinoma but not in esophageal squamous epithelium or squamous cell carcinoma. In esophageal squamous cell lines, Hh signaling upregulated FOXA2, which induced expression of MUC2, an intestinal mucin found in Barrett's esophagus, and the MUC2-processing protein AGR2. Together, these data indicate that Hh signaling induces expression of genes that determine an intestinal phenotype in esophageal squamous epithelial cells and may contribute to the development of Barrett's metaplasia.Journal of Clinical Investigation 08/2014; · 13.77 Impact Factor