The stage-specific embryonic antigen SSEA-1 is a cell-surface oligosaccharide molecule expressed with temporal precision during the murine preimplantation period and implicated in adhesive events involving the process of compaction. We used a mammalian transient expression system to isolate a cloned human cDNA that determines expression of the SSEA-1 molecule. The cDNA sequence predicts a type II transmembrane protein with a domain structure similar to mammalian glycosyltransferases, but without primary sequence similarity to these enzymes. The carboxy-terminal domain of this protein was shown to be catalytically active as a fucosyltransferase when expressed in COS-1 cells as a portion of a secreted protein A fusion peptide. The enzyme is an exceptional glycosyltransferase in that it can use both type I and type II oligosaccharides as acceptor substrates to generate subterminal Fuc alpha(1,4)- and Fuc alpha(1,3)-linkages, respectively, in a manner analogous to the human Lewis blood group fucosyltransferase. Southern blot analysis shows that the cDNA corresponds to sequences syntenic to the Lewis locus on chromosome 19. These results indicate that this cDNA is the product of the human Lewis blood group locus, provide genetic confirmation of the hypothesis that this enzyme can catalyze two distinct transglycosylation reactions, and outline an approach to the isolation of other sequences that determine expression of developmentally regulated oligosaccharide antigens.
The blood group i/I antigens were the first identified alloantigens that display a dramatic change during human development. The i and I antigens are determined by linear and branched poly-N-acetyllactosaminoglycans, respectively. In human erythrocytes during embryonic development, the fetal (i) antigen is replaced by the adult (I) antigen as a result of the appearance of a beta-1,6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase, the I-branching enzyme. Here, we report the cDNA cloning and expression of this branching enzyme that converts linear into branched poly-N-acetyllactosaminoglycans, thus introducing the I antigen in transfected cells. The cDNA sequence predicts a protein with type II membrane topology as has been found for all other mammalian glycosyltransferases cloned to date. The Chinese hamster ovary cells that stably express the isolated cDNA acquire I-branched structures as evidenced by the structural analysis of glycopeptides from these cells. Comparison of the amino acid sequence with those of other glycosyltransferases revealed that this I-branching enzyme and another beta-1,6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase that forms a branch in O-glycans are strongly homologous in the center of their putative catalytic domains. Moreover, the genes encoding these two beta-1,6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases were found to be located at the same locus on chromosome 9, band q21. These results indicate that the I-branching enzyme represents a member of a beta-1,6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase gene family of which expression is controlled by developmental programs.
To test whether the mouse Hox-1.3 gene is a cognate of the Drosophila Sex combs reduced (Scr) gene, we inserted a hsp 70-Hox-1.3 fusion gene into the Drosophila genome. Transgenic flies displayed Scr-like homeotic transformations after ectopic expression of Hox-1.3 induced by heat shock. In larvae, the thoracic segments T2 and T3 are transformed toward T1. In adults, head structures are dramatically disrupted, including transformation of antenna towards leg. Transformations are not the result of ectopic activation of the endogenous Scr gene. Rather, Hox-1.3 appears to directly regulate Scr target genes, as demonstrated by the ectopic activation of fork head by Hox-1.3. The results suggest that mouse Hox-1.3 cannot only substitute functionally for Drosophila Scr in the determination of external structures but also can participate in the regulatory hierarchy of insect organogenesis.
We report that the murine Hox-1.3 homeo domain protein is a nuclear phosphoprotein capable of binding to specific DNA sequences. DNase I protection of the Hox-1.3 gene promoter region with the Hox-1.3 protein identifies a binding site 144 bp upstream from the start of transcription. Both phosphorylated and nonphosphorylated forms bind DNA directly in a sequence-specific manner. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays were performed with a set of synthetic oligonucleotides representing either the DNase I-protected region of the Hox-1.3 gene or partially homologous sequences present in promoter regions of other characterized viral, yeast, and mammalian genes. From the results, we deduce a consensus binding motif of CPyPyNATTAT/GPy. Base substitutions in the core ATTA sequence severely reduce or abolish binding. In the SV40 enhancer, the Hox-1.3 binding motif overlaps both the octamer (Octa2) and the transactivator protein-1 (AP-1) binding sites. The Hox-1.3 binding motif also overlaps the nuclear factor III (NF-III) octamer motif in the adenovirus-2 origin of DNA replication. Overlap among DNA-binding sites suggests that regulation imparted by certain cis-elements may be integrated by these different factors.
To directly assess c-myc function in cellular proliferation, differentiation, and embryogenesis, we have used homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells to generate both heterozygous and homozygous c-myc mutant ES cell lines. The mutation is a null allele at the protein level. Mouse chimeras from seven heterozygous cell lines transmitted the mutant allele to their offspring. The analysis of embryos from two clones has shown that the mutation is lethal in homozygotes between 9.5 and 10.5 days of gestation. The embryos are generally smaller and retarded in development compared with their littermates. Pathologic abnormalities include the heart, pericardium, neural tube, and delay or failure in turning of the embryo. Heterozygous females have reduced fertility owing to embryonic resorption before 9.5 days of gestation in 14% of implanted embryos. c-Myc protein is necessary for embryonic survival beyond 10.5 days of gestation; however, it appears to be dispensable for cell division both in ES cell lines and in the embryo before that time.
E4BP4, a basic leucine zipper transcription factor, contains a DNA-binding domain closely related to DBP, HLF, and TEF, which are PAR proteins. Here, we show that the phase of e4bp4 mRNA rhythm is opposite to that of the dbp, hlf, and tef rhythms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the mammalian circadian center, and the liver. The protein levels of E4BP4 and DBP also fluctuate in almost the opposite phase. Moreover, all PAR proteins activate, whereas E4BP4 suppresses, the transcriptional activity of the reporter gene containing a common binding sequence in transcriptional assays in vitro. An electrophoretic mobility shift assay demonstrated that E4BP4 is not able to dimerize with the PAR proteins, but is able to compete for the same binding sites with them. Furthermore, we showed sustained low e4bp4 and high dbp mRNA levels in mCry-deficient mice. These results indicate that the E4BP4 and PAR proteins are paired components of a reciprocating mechanism wherein E4BP4 suppresses the transcription of target genes during the time of day when E4BP4 is abundant, and the PAR proteins activate them at another time of day. E4BP4 and the PAR proteins may switch back and forth between the on-off conditions of the target genes.
Gene regulation by AP-1 transcription factors in response to Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling controls essential cellular processes during development and in pathological situations. Here, we report genetic and molecular evidence that the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) Chameau and the histone deacetylase DRpd3 act as antagonistic cofactors of DJun and DFos to modulate JNK-dependent transcription during thorax metamorphosis and JNK-induced apoptosis in Drosophila. We demonstrate in cultured cells that DFos phosphorylation mediated by JNK signaling plays a central role in coordinating the dynamics of Chameau and DRpd3 recruitment and function at AP-1-responsive promoters. Activating the pathway stimulates the HAT function of Chameau, promoting histone H4 acetylation and target gene transcription. Conversely, in response to JNK signaling inactivation, DRpd3 is recruited and suppresses histone acetylation and transcription. This study establishes a direct link among JNK signaling, DFos phosphorylation, chromatin modification, and AP-1-dependent transcription and its importance in a developing organism.
Vertebrate CpG islands (CGIs) are short interspersed DNA sequences that deviate significantly from the average genomic pattern by being GC-rich, CpG-rich, and predominantly nonmethylated. Most, perhaps all, CGIs are sites of transcription initiation, including thousands that are remote from currently annotated promoters. Shared DNA sequence features adapt CGIs for promoter function by destabilizing nucleosomes and attracting proteins that create a transcriptionally permissive chromatin state. Silencing of CGI promoters is achieved through dense CpG methylation or polycomb recruitment, again using their distinctive DNA sequence composition. CGIs are therefore generically equipped to influence local chromatin structure and simplify regulation of gene activity.
We have purified and cloned a new splicing factor, KSRP. KSRP is a component of a multiprotein complex that binds specifically to an intronic splicing enhancer element downstream of the neuron-specific c-src N1 exon. This 75-kD protein induces the assembly of five other proteins, including the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein F, onto the splicing enhancer. The sequence of the KSRP cDNA indicates that the protein contains four K homology RNA-binding domains and an unusual carboxy-terminal domain. KSRP is similar to two proteins, FUSE-binding protein and P-element somatic inhibitor. KSRP is expressed in both neural and non-neural cell lines, although it is present at higher levels in neural cells. Antibodies specific for KSRP inhibit the splicing of the N1 exon in vitro. Moreover, this inhibition of N1 splicing can be rescued by the addition of purified KSRP. KSRP is likely to regulate splicing from a number of intronic splicing enhancer sequences.
Radial glia function during CNS development both as neural progenitors and as a scaffolding supporting neuronal migration. To elucidate pathways involved in these functions, we mapped in vivo the promoter for Blbp, a radial glial gene. We show here that a binding site for the Notch effector CBF1 is essential for all Blbp transcription in radial glia, and that BLBP expression is significantly reduced in the forebrains of mice lacking the Notch1 and Notch3 receptors. These results identify Blbp as the first predominantly CNS-specific Notch target gene and suggest that it mediates some aspects of Notch signaling in radial glia.
A collection of 100 td mutants defective in phage T4 thymidylate synthase (TS) production was screened for splicing impairments. Splicing-defective mutants were identified by a rapid assay developed to detect imbalances in the td protein products (TS, the exon ligation product, and NH2TS, encoded by the pre-mRNA). Thirteen selected mutants, confirmed to be splicing defective by an RNA-oligodeoxynucleotide hybridization assay, were all shown to be inhibited in the first step of the group I splicing pathway, cleavage at the 5' splice site. Of these, only one, SC99, appeared to be a specificity mutant. Whereas the 12 other mutants had sequence changes within the functionally important 5' and 3' domains of the intron, SC99 was shown to be an exon mutant. The G----A change at residue -3 of the upstream exon of SC99 resulted in loss of normal 5' splice site recognition. Furthermore, activation of a remote cryptic splice site at residue -29 of the upstream exon and missplicing of mRNA that is deleted for 29 nucleotides of the 5' exon are characteristic for this mutant. These results underscore the role of exon sequences in guiding the fidelity of the splicing reaction and they raise provocative questions about the alignment of introns within exon contexts that are consistent with accurate splicing and synthesis of an intact gene product.
Males of the MyK-103 line of transgenic mice are fertile and sire litters of normal size, but they never transmit the transgene, whereas females transmit the transgene with normal frequency. The chromosome originally bearing the transgene can be transmitted through the male germ line, but only after the transgene is deleted or rearranged by intrachromosomal recombination. The transgene encodes a functional herpes simplex virus (HSV) thymidine kinase gene that causes sperm infertility when expressed in postmeiotic germ cells. Immunocytochemistry revealed clones of germ cells that fail to express HSV thymidine kinase. We postulate that these cells arose by transgene deletion in embryonic germ cells and postnatal spermatogonial stem cells and that they are responsible for the normal fertility of MyK-103 males. The frequency of recombination events at the integration locus suggests that it contains a hotspot for mitotic recombination.
The embryonic expression of COUP-TFII, an orphan nuclear receptor, suggests that it may participate in mesenchymal-epithelial interactions required for organogenesis. Targeted deletion of the COUP-TFII gene results in embryonic lethality with defects in angiogenesis and heart development. COUP-TFII mutants are defective in remodeling the primitive capillary plexus into large and small microcapillaries. In the COUP-TFII mutant heart, the atria and sinus venosus fail to develop past the primitive tube stage. Reciprocal interactions between the endothelium and the mesenchyme in the vascular system and heart are essential for normal development of these systems. In fact, the expression of Angiopoietin-1, a proangiogenic soluble factor thought to mediate the mesenchymal-endothelial interactions during heart development and vascular remodeling, is down-regulated in COUP-TFII mutants. This down-regulation suggests that COUP-TFII may be required for bidirectional signaling between the endothelial and mesenchymal compartments essential for proper angiogenesis and heart development.
Mammalian cells are believed to have a cell-intrinsic ability to increase glucose metabolism in response to hypoxia. Here we show that the ability of hematopoietic cells to up-regulate anaerobic glycolysis in response to hypoxia is dependent on receptor-mediated signal transduction. In the absence of growth factor signaling, hematopoietic cells fail to express hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (Hif-1alpha) mRNA. Growth factor-deprived hematopoietic cells do not engage in glucose-dependent anabolic synthesis and neither express Hif-1alpha mRNA nor require HIF-1alpha protein to regulate cell survival in response to hypoxia. However, HIF-1alpha is adaptive for the survival of growth factor-stimulated cells, as suppression of HIF-1alpha results in death when growing cells are exposed to hypoxia. Growth factor-dependent HIF-1alpha expression reprograms the intracellular fate of glucose, resulting in decreased glucose-dependent anabolic synthesis and increased lactate production, an effect that is enhanced when HIF-1alpha protein is stabilized by hypoxia. Together, these data suggest that HIF-1alpha contributes to the regulation of growth factor-stimulated glucose metabolism even in the absence of hypoxia.
Translation initiation is a multistep process involving several canonical translation factors, which assemble at the 5'-end of the mRNA to promote the recruitment of the ribosome. Although the 3' poly(A) tail of eukaryotic mRNAs and its major bound protein, the poly(A)-binding protein (PABP), have been studied extensively, their mechanism of action in translation is not well understood and is confounded by differences between in vivo and in vitro systems. Here, we provide direct evidence for the involvement of PABP in key steps of the translation initiation pathway. Using a new technique to deplete PABP from mammalian cell extracts, we show that extracts lacking PABP exhibit dramatically reduced rates of translation, reduced efficiency of 48S and 80S ribosome initiation complex formation, and impaired interaction of eIF4E with the mRNA cap structure. Supplementing PABP-depleted extracts with wild-type PABP completely rectified these deficiencies, whereas a mutant of PABP, M161A, which is incapable of interacting with eIF4G, failed to restore translation. In addition, a stronger inhibition (approximately twofold) of 80S as compared to 48S ribosome complex formation (approximately 65% vs. approximately 35%, respectively) by PABP depletion suggests that PABP plays a direct role in 60S subunit joining. PABP can thus be considered a canonical translation initiation factor, integral to initiation complex formation at the 5'-end of mRNA.
We have analyzed the expression pattern of transcription factor AP-2 in mouse embryos to evaluate the potential of AP-2 as a regulator during vertebrate development. A partial cDNA encoding AP-2 was isolated from a mouse embryo cDNA library and used to prepare probes to measure AP-2 mRNA levels by RNase protection and RNA in situ hybridization. Between 10.5 and 15.5 days of embryogenesis, the relative abundance of AP-2 mRNA is greatest at 11.5 days and declines steadily thereafter. RNA in situ hybridization analysis of embryos between 8.5 and 12.5 days of gestation identified a novel expression pattern for AP-2. The principle part of this expression occurs in neural crest cells and their major derivatives, including cranial and spinal sensory ganglia and facial mesenchyme. AP-2 is also expressed in surface ectoderm and in a longitudinal column of the spinal cord and hindbrain that is contacted by neural crest-derived sensory ganglia. Additional expression of AP-2 occurs in limb bud mesenchyme and in meso-metanephric regions. This embryonic expression pattern is spatially and temporally consistent with a role for AP-2 in regulating transcription of genes involved in the morphogenesis of the peripheral nervous system, face, limbs, skin, and nephric tissues.
Polycomb-repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-mediated histone methylation plays an important role in aberrant cancer gene silencing and is a potential target for cancer therapy. Here we show that S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase inhibitor 3-Deazaneplanocin A (DZNep) induces efficient apoptotic cell death in cancer cells but not in normal cells. We found that DZNep effectively depleted cellular levels of PRC2 components EZH2, SUZ12, and EED and inhibited associated histone H3 Lys 27 methylation (but not H3 Lys 9 methylation). By integrating RNA interference (RNAi), genome-wide expression analysis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies, we have identified a prominent set of genes selectively repressed by PRC2 in breast cancer that can be reactivated by DZNep. We further demonstrate that the preferential reactivation of a set of these genes by DZNep, including a novel apoptosis affector, FBXO32, contributes to DZNep-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Our results demonstrate the unique feature of DZNep as a novel chromatin remodeling compound and suggest that pharmacologic reversal of PRC2-mediated gene repression by DZNep may constitute a novel approach for cancer therapy.
The idea that chromosomes have special terminal structures first arose as a consequence of experiments conducted by Muller, who found that treatment of Drosophila with X-rays rarely resulted in terminal deletions or inversions of the chromosomes (Muller 1938). Complementary experiments in maize by McClintock expanded upon the idea that telomeres, the physical ends of chromosomes, are required for chromosome stability, by contrasting the breakage-fusion-bridge cycle resulting from broken dicentric chromosomes with the stability of chromosomes with intact termini (McClintock 1941, 1942). With the dawn of molecular biology, telomeres in most eukaryotes are now known to be composed of short repeated G-rich sequences complexed with proteins to form a special heterochromatin-like structure. More recent experimental manipulation of chromosome termini and of the proteins that bind them have confirmed the early observations of Muller and McClintock, showing that a primary role of telomeres is to insulate the ends of chromosomes both from fusion with other ends and
The Wnt pathway regulates the early dorsal-ventral axis in Xenopus through a complex of beta-catenin and HMG box transcription factors of the Lef/Tcf family. We show that the promoter of the dorsalizing homeo box gene siamois is a direct target for the beta-catenin/XTcf-3 complex, establishing a link between the Wnt pathway and the activation of genes involved in specifying the dorsal axis. By injecting siamois reporter constructs into the animal pole of Xenopus embryos, we show that a 0.8-kb fragment of the siamois promoter is strongly activated by beta-catenin. The proximal 0.5 kb, which is also activated by beta-catenin, contains three Lef/Tcf-binding sites. Mutations in these sites eliminate the beta-catenin-mediated activation of siamois and show that siamois is regulated by the beta-catenin/XTcf-3 complex, in combination with additional transcriptional activators. When expressed at the equator of the embryo, the siamois promoter is activated to much higher levels on the dorsal side than the ventral side. Ectopic ventral expression of beta-catenin raises the ventral expression of the siamois promoter to the dorsal levels. Conversely, ectopic dorsal expression of dominant-negative XTcf-3 abolishes the dorsal activation of the siamois promoter. Furthermore, elimination of the Lef/Tcf sites elevates the ventral expression of siamois, revealing a repressive role for XTcf-3 in the absence of beta-catenin. Finally, we find that the endogenous siamois activator, although present throughout the dorsal side of the embryo, is most potent in the dorsal vegetal region. We propose that the dorsal activation of siamois by the beta-catenin/XTcf-3 complex combined with the ventral repression of siamois by XTcf-3 results in the restriction of endogenous siamois expression to the dorsal side of Xenopus embryos.
A large portion of the eukaryotic genome is transcribed as noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). While once thought of primarily as "junk," recent studies indicate that a large number of these RNAs play central roles in regulating gene expression at multiple levels. The increasing diversity of ncRNAs identified in the eukaryotic genome suggests a critical nexus between the regulatory potential of ncRNAs and the complexity of genome organization. We provide an overview of recent advances in the identification and function of eukaryotic ncRNAs and the roles played by these RNAs in chromatin organization, gene expression, and disease etiology.
The activity of the E2F transcription factor is controlled by physical association with the retinoblastoma protein (pRB) and two related proteins, p107 and p130. The pRB family members are thought to control different aspects of E2F activity, but it has been unclear what the respective functions of these proteins might be. To dissect the specific functions of pRB, p107, and p130 we have investigated how the expression of E2F-regulated genes is changed in cultures of primary cells lacking each of these family members. Whereas no changes were found in the expression of E2F-target genes in cells lacking either p107 or p130, deregulated expression of E2F targets was seen in cells lacking pRB and in cells lacking both p107 and p130. Surprisingly, the genes that were disregulated in these two settings were completely different. These findings show that pRB and p107/p130 indeed provide different functions in E2F regulation and identify target genes that are dependent on pRB family proteins for their normal expression.
Prolactin (PRL) induces mammary gland development (defined as mammopoiesis) and lactogenesis. Binding of PRL to its receptor leads to the phosphorylation and activation of STAT (signal transducers and activators of transcription) proteins, which in turn promote the expression of specific genes. The activity pattern of two STAT proteins, Stat5a and Stat5b, in mammary tissue during pregnancy suggests an active role for these transcription factors in epithelial cell differentiation and milk protein gene expression. To investigate the function of Stat5a in mammopoiesis and lactogenesis we disrupted this gene in mice by gene targeting. Stat5a-deficient mice developed normally and were indistinguishable from hemizygous and wild-type littermates in size, weight, and fertility. However, mammary lobuloalveolar outgrowth during pregnancy was curtailed, and females failed to lactate after parturition because of a failure of terminal differentiation. Although Stat5b has a 96% similarity with Stat5a and a superimposable expression pattern during mammary gland development it failed to counterbalance for the absence of Stat5a. These results document that Stat5a is the principal and an obligate mediator of mammopoietic and lactogenic signaling.
Over the past 10 years, the development of chromosome conformation capture (3C) technology and the subsequent genomic variants thereof have enabled the analysis of nuclear organization at an unprecedented resolution and throughput. The technology relies on the original and, in hindsight, remarkably simple idea that digestion and religation of fixed chromatin in cells, followed by the quantification of ligation junctions, allows for the determination of DNA contact frequencies and insight into chromosome topology. Here we evaluate and compare the current 3C-based methods (including 4C [chromosome conformation capture-on-chip], 5C [chromosome conformation capture carbon copy], HiC, and ChIA-PET), summarize their contribution to our current understanding of genome structure, and discuss how shape influences genome function.
The Src tyrosine kinase has been implicated in a wide variety of signal transduction pathways, yet despite the nearly ubiquitous expression of c-src, src-/- mice show only one major phenotype-osteopetrosis caused by an intrinsic defect in osteoclasts, the cells responsible for resorbing bone. To explore further the role of Src both in osteoclasts and other cell types, we have generated transgenic mice that express the wild-type and mutated versions of the chicken c-src proto-oncogene from the promoter of tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), a gene that is expressed highly in osteoclasts. We demonstrate here that expression of a wild-type transgene in only a limited number of tissues can fully rescue the src-/- phenotype. Surprisingly, expression of kinase-defective alleles of c-src also reduces osteopetrosis in src-/- animals and partially rescues a defect in cytoskeletal organization observed in src-/- osteoclasts. These results suggest that there are essential kinase-independent functions for Src in vivo. Biochemical examination of osteoclasts from these mice suggest that Src may function in part by recruiting or activating other tyrosine kinases.
The epidermis contains two types of proliferative keratinocyte: stem cells, with unlimited self-renewal capacity, and transit amplifying cells, those daughters of stem cells that are destined to withdraw from the cell cycle and terminally differentiate after a few rounds of division. In a search for factors that regulate exit from the stem cell compartment, we constitutively expressed c-Myc in primary human keratinocytes by use of wild-type and steroid-activatable constructs. In contrast to its role in other cell types, activation of c-Myc in keratinocytes caused a progressive reduction in growth rate, without inducing apoptosis, and a marked stimulation of terminal differentiation. Keratinocytes can be enriched for stem or transit amplifying cells on the basis of beta1 integrin expression and by use of this method to fractionate cells prior to c-Myc activation, we found that c-Myc acted selectively on stem cells, driving them into the transit amplifying compartment. As a result, activation of c-Myc in epidermis reconstituted on a dermal equivalent led to premature execution of the differentiation program. The transcriptional regulatory domain of c-Myc was required for these effects because a deletion within that domain acted as a dominant-negative mutation. Our results reveal a novel biological role for c-Myc and provide new insights into the mechanism regulating epidermal stem cell fate.
Vertebrate Hox genes are required for the proper organization of structures along the rostrocaudal axis. Hoxd-11 is expressed in the posterior part of the embryo, up to the level of prevertebra 27, and its expression boundary is reproduced by a Hoxd-11/lacZ transgene. Expression of this transgene anterior to prevertebra 27 is prevented by the silencing activity of a cis-acting element, region IX. Using transgenic mice, we show that Hoxd-11 repression by region IX is necessary to position the sacrum properly. This silencing activity depends on phylogenetically conserved sequences able to bind in vitro retinoic acid receptors and COUP-TFs. ES cells were used to generate mice carrying a subtle mutation that abolishes binding of nuclear receptors to region IX. Mutant mice display an anterior shift of their lumbosacral transition inherited as a codominant trait. In mutant embryos, expression of both Hoxd-11 and Hoxd-10 mRNAs in the prevertebral column is anteriorized. These results illustrate the sharing, in cis, of a single regulatory element in order to establish the expression boundaries of two neighboring Hoxd genes.
Homothallic strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae can change mating type as often as every generation by replacing the allele at the MAT locus with a copy of mating type information present at one of two storage loci, HML and HMR, located on either end of chromosome III. Selection of the appropriate donor locus is dictated by a mating type-specific repressor protein, alpha2p: Cells containing alpha2p select HMR, whereas those lacking alpha2p select HML. As a repressor protein, alpha2p binds to DNA cooperatively with the transcriptional activator Mcm1p. Here we show that two alpha2p/Mcm1p-binding sites, DPS1 and DPS2, control donor selection. DPS1 and DPS2 are located approximately 30 kb from the left arm of chromosome III, well removed from HML, HMR, and MAT. Precise deletion of only DPS1 and DPS2 results in random selection of donor loci and in a cells without affecting selection in alpha cells. Reciprocally, deletion of only the alpha2p binding segments in each of these two sites results in selection of the wrong donor loci in alpha cells without affecting preference in a cells. These results suggest that Mcm1p, bound to these two sites in the absence of alpha2p, activates HML as donor. Binding of alpha2p blocks the ability of Mcm1p bound to DPS1 and DPS2 to activate HML, resulting in default selection of HMR as donor. DPS1 and DPS2 also regulate expression of several noncoding RNAs, although deletion of at least one of these RNA loci does not affect donor preference. This suggests that transcriptional activation, rather than transcription of a specific product, is the initiating event in activating the left arm of chromosome III for donor selection.
The neurofibromatosis type II (NF2) tumor suppressor encodes a putative cytoskeletal associated protein, the loss of which leads to the development of Schwann cell tumors associated with NF2 in humans. The NF2 protein merlin belongs to the band 4.1 family of proteins that link membrane proteins to the cytoskeleton and are thought to be involved in dynamic cytoskeletal reorganization. Beyond its membership in this family, however, the function of merlin remains poorly understood. In order to analyze the function of merlin during embryogenesis and to develop a system to study merlin function in detail, we have disrupted the mouse Nf2 gene by homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells. Most embryos homozygous for a mutation at the Nf2 locus fail between embryonic days 6.5 and 7.0, exhibiting a collapsed extraembryonic region and the absence of organized extraembryonic ectoderm. The embryo proper continues to develop, but fails to initiate gastrulation. These observations are supported by the expression patterns of markers of the extraembryonic lineage and the lack of expression of mesodermal markers in the mutant embryos. Mosaic studies demonstrate that merlin function is not required cell autonomously in mesoderm, and support the proposition that merlin function is essential for the development of extraembryonic structures during early mouse development.
Promoter-proximal pausing during transcriptional elongation is an important way of regulating many diverse loci, including the human hsp70 gene. Pausing of RNA polymerase can be enhanced by chromatin structure. We demonstrate that activation of hsp70 leads to disruption of transcribed chromatin in front of RNA polymerase. In vivo, disruption of chromatin in the first 400 bp of the transcribed region of hsp70 following heat shock is resistant to the transcriptional inhibitor alpha-amanitin. Disruption of chromatin farther downstream also occurs following activation but is sensitive to alpha-amanitin, suggesting that polymerase movement is needed to disrupt distal portions of the hsp70 gene. In vitro, disruption of transcribed chromatin is dependent on the presence of the human heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) activation domains. These experiments demonstrate that HSF1 can direct disruption of chromatin in transcribed regions. We suggest that this is one of the mechanisms used by HSF1 to facilitate transcriptional elongation.
Generalized transcriptional repression of large chromosomal regions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs at the silent mating loci and at telomeres and is mediated by the silent information regulator (SIR) genes. We have identified a novel form of transcriptional silencing in S. cerevisiae in the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) tandem array. Ty1 retrotransposons marked with a weakened URA3 gene (Ty1-mURA3) efficiently integrated into rDNA. The mURA3 marker in rDNA was transcriptionally silenced in a SIR2-dependent manner. MET15 and LEU2 were also partially silenced, indicating that rDNA silencing may be quite general. Deletion of SIR4 enhanced mURA3 and MET15 silencing, but deletion of SIR1 or SIR3 did not affect silencing, indicating that the mechanism of silencing differs from that at telomeres and silent mating loci. Deletion of SIR2 resulted in increased psoralen cross-linking of the rDNA in vivo, suggesting that a specific chromatin structure in rDNA down-regulates polymerase II promoters.
In dividing cells, p27(Kip1) is predominantly bound to cyclin D-cdk4 without inhibiting this kinase. Upon being induced by TGF-beta or with a conditional expression system in lung epithelial cells, p15(Ink4b) binds to and inhibits the cyclin D-dependent kinases, prevents p27 binding to these cdk complexes, and promotes p27 binding and inhibition of cyclin-cdk2. In vitro, however, p15 prevents p27 binding only if it has access to cyclin D-cdk4 first. We present evidence that the different subcellular location of p15 and p27 ensures the prior access of p15 to cdk4. In the cell, p15 is localized mostly in the cytoplasm, whereas p27 is nuclear. p15 prevails over p27 or a p27 construct consisting of the cdk inhibitory domain tagged with a nuclear localization signal. However, when p15 and p27 are forced to reside in the same subcellular location, either the cytoplasm or the nucleus, p15 no longer prevents p27 from binding to cdk4. These properties allow p15 and p27 to coordinately inhibit cdk4 and cdk2.
During development of the central nervous system, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (O-2A) undergo an orderly pattern of cell proliferation and differentiation, culminating in the ability of oligodendrocytes to myelinate axons. Here we report that p27(Kip1), a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, is an important component of the decision of O-2A cells to withdraw from the cell cycle. In vitro, accumulation of p27 correlates with differentiation of oligodendrocytes. Furthermore, only a fraction of O-2A cells derived from p27-knockout mice differentiate successfully compared to controls. Inability to differentiate correlates with continued proliferation, suggesting that p27 is an important component of the machinery required for the G1/G0 transition in O-2A cells. In vivo, expansion of O-2A precursors before withdrawal, in part, leads to a greater number of oligodendrocytes. Together these data indicate a role for p27 during the decision to withdraw from the cell cycle in the oligodendrocyte lineage.
Xenopus Cadherin-11 (Xcad-11) is expressed when cranial neural crest cells (CNC) acquire motility. However, its function in stimulating cell migration is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that Xcad-11 initiates filopodia and lamellipodia formation, which is essential for CNC to populate pharyngeal pouches. We identified the cytoplasmic tail of Xcad-11 as both necessary and sufficient for proper CNC migration as long as it was linked to the plasma membrane. Our results showing that guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF)-Trio binds to Xcad-11 and can functionally substitute for it like constitutively active forms of RhoA, Rac, and cdc42 unravel a novel cadherin function.
The E2F family of transcription factors regulates the expression of both genes associated with cell proliferation and genes that regulate cell death. The net outcome is dependent on cellular context and tissue environment. The mir-11 gene is located in the last intron of the Drosophila E2F1 homolog gene dE2f1, and its expression parallels that of dE2f1. Here, we investigated the role of miR-11 and found that miR-11 specifically modulated the proapoptotic function of its host gene, dE2f1. A mir-11 mutant was highly sensitive to dE2F1-dependent, DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Consistently, coexpression of miR-11 in transgenic animals suppressed dE2F1-induced apoptosis in multiple tissues, while exerting no effect on dE2F1-driven cell proliferation. Importantly, miR-11 repressed the expression of the proapoptotic genes reaper (rpr) and head involution defective (hid), which are directly regulated by dE2F1 upon DNA damage. In addition to rpr and hid, we identified a novel set of cell death genes that was also directly regulated by dE2F1 and miR-11. Thus, our data support a model in which the coexpression of miR-11 limits the proapoptotic function of its host gene, dE2f1, upon DNA damage by directly modulating a dE2F1-dependent apoptotic transcriptional program.
The enzymes catalyzing lysine and arginine methylation of histones are essential for maintaining transcriptional programs and determining cell fate and identity. Until recently, histone methylation was regarded irreversible. However, within the last few years, several families of histone demethylases erasing methyl marks associated with gene repression or activation have been identified, underscoring the plasticity and dynamic nature of histone methylation. Recent discoveries have revealed that histone demethylases take part in large multiprotein complexes synergizing with histone deacetylases, histone methyltransferases, and nuclear receptors to control developmental and transcriptional programs. Here we review the emerging biochemical and biological functions of the histone demethylases and discuss their potential involvement in human diseases, including cancer.
A role for the membrane/cytoskeleton interface in the development and progression of cancer is established, yet poorly understood. The neurofibromatosis type II (NF2) tumor suppressor gene encodes a member of the ezrin/radixin/moesin (ERM) family of membrane/cytoskeleton linker proteins thought to be important for cell adhesion and motility. We report that in contrast to the narrow spectrum of benign tumors in human NF2 patients, Nf2 heterozygous mice develop a variety of malignant tumors. Using the fact that Nf2 is linked to the p53 tumor suppressor locus in the mouse we have also investigated the effects of genetic linkage of cancer-predisposing mutations on tumorigenesis and examined the genetic pathway to tumor formation involving Nf2 loss. Importantly, we observed a very high rate of metastasis associated with Nf2 deficiency, with or without loss of p53 function, and we provide experimental evidence supporting a role for Nf2 loss in metastatic potential. Together, our results suggest an important role for the NF2 tumor suppressor, and perhaps the ERM family in tumor formation and metastasis.
The Polycomb group (PcG) proteins form chromatin-modifying complexes that are essential for embryonic development and stem cell renewal and are commonly deregulated in cancer. Here, we identify their target genes using genome-wide location analysis in human embryonic fibroblasts. We find that Polycomb-Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1), PRC2, and tri-methylated histone H3K27 co-occupy >1000 silenced genes with a strong functional bias for embryonic development and cell fate decisions. We functionally identify 40 genes derepressed in human embryonic fibroblasts depleted of the PRC2 components (EZH2, EED, SUZ12) and the PRC1 component, BMI-1. Interestingly, several markers of osteogenesis, adipogenesis, and chrondrogenesis are among these genes, consistent with the mesenchymal origin of fibroblasts. Using a neuronal model of differentiation, we delineate two different mechanisms for regulating PcG target genes. For genes activated during differentiation, PcGs are displaced. However, for genes repressed during differentiation, we paradoxically find that they are already bound by the PcGs in nondifferentiated cells despite being actively transcribed. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that PcGs are part of a preprogrammed memory system established during embryogenesis marking certain key genes for repressive signals during subsequent developmental and differentiation processes.
The p53 protein can bind to a set of specific DNA sequences, and this may activate the transcription of genes adjacent to these DNA elements. The mdm-2 gene is shown here to contain a p53 DNA-binding site and a genetically responsive element such that expression of the mdm-2 gene can be regulated by the level of wild-type p53 protein. The mdm-2 protein, in turn, can complex with p53 and decrease its ability to act as a positive transcription factor at the mdm-2 gene-responsive element. In this way, the mdm-2 gene is autoregulated. The p53 protein regulates the mdm-2 gene at the level of transcription, and the mdm-2 protein regulates the p53 protein at the level of its activity. This creates a feedback loop that regulates both the activity of the p53 protein and the expression of the mdm-2 gene.
In Arabidopsis, WRKY factors comprise a large gene family of plant-specific transcriptional regulators controlling several types of plant stress responses. To understand the regulatory role of WRKY proteins during such processes, we identified targets of the senescence- and defense-associated WRKY6 factor. WRKY6 was found to suppress its own promoter activity as well as that of a closely related WRKY family member, indicating negative autoregulation. On the other hand, WRKY6 positively influenced the senescence- and pathogen defense-associated PR1 promoter activity, most likely involving NPR1 function. One novel identified target gene, SIRK, encodes a receptor-like protein kinase, whose developmental expression is strongly induced specifically during leaf senescence. The transcriptional activation of SIRK is dependent on WRKY6 function. Senescing leaves of wrky6 knockout mutants showed a drastic reduction, and green leaves of WRKY6 overexpression lines showed clearly elevated SIRK transcript levels. Furthermore, the SIRK gene promoter was specifically activated by WRKY6 in vivo, functioning very likely through direct W-box interactions.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is fundamental to both embryogenesis and tumor metastasis. The Notch intercellular signaling pathway regulates cell fate determination throughout metazoan evolution, and overexpression of activating alleles is oncogenic in mammals. Here we demonstrate that Notch activity promotes EMT during both cardiac development and oncogenic transformation via transcriptional induction of the Snail repressor, a potent and evolutionarily conserved mediator of EMT in many tissues and tumor types. In the embryonic heart, Notch functions via lateral induction to promote a selective transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta)-mediated EMT that leads to cellularization of developing cardiac valvular primordia. Embryos that lack Notch signaling elements exhibit severely attenuated cardiac snail expression, abnormal maintenance of intercellular endocardial adhesion complexes, and abortive endocardial EMT in vivo and in vitro. Accordingly, transient ectopic expression of activated Notch1 (N1IC) in zebrafish embryos leads to hypercellular cardiac valves, whereas Notch inhibition prevents valve development. Overexpression of N1IC in immortalized endothelial cells in vitro induces EMT accompanied by oncogenic transformation, with corresponding induction of snail and repression of VE-cadherin expression. Notch is expressed in embryonic regions where EMT occurs, suggesting an intimate and fundamental role for Notch, which may be reactivated during tumor metastasis.
Cell type-specific microtubules, such as the Sertoli cell microtubules and the manchette and flagellum microtubules of the spermatids, play essential roles in spermatogenesis. We identified the gene encoding E-MAP-115 (epithelial microtubule-associated protein of 115 kD) as a retinoic acid-inducible gene using gene trap mutagenesis in mouse embryonic stem cells. The gene trap insertion led to a null allele of the E-MAP-115 gene and, in agreement with its high expression in the testis, male mice homozygous for the mutation were sterile because of deformation of spermatid nuclei and subsequent gradual loss of germ cells. Consistent with a possible role for E-MAP-115 in stabilizing microtubules, microtubule associations in the mutant were morphologically abnormal in the manchette of spermatids and in Sertoli cells. We hypothesize that the abnormal microtubules in these two cell types are responsible for deformation of spermatid nuclei and germ cell loss, respectively, and indicate an essential role for E-MAP-115 in microtubule functions required for spermatogenesis.
Transcriptional regulation of the human hsp70 gene in response to heat shock and other forms of physiological stress occurs through the activation of heat shock transcription factor (HSF). Exposure of cells to a heat shock temperature of 42 degrees C results in transient activation of HSF; its DNA-binding activity increases rapidly, plateaus, and attenuates, during which the intracellular levels of hsp70 increase. In an effort to understand whether HSF is regulated negatively by hsp70, we have examined whether HSF associates with hsp70. We show that activated HSF associates with hsp70 and that the interaction is detected as the levels of hsp70 increase in the cell. Addition of ATP and other hydrolyzable nucleotides results in the dissociation of hsp70 from HSF while nonhydrolyzable nucleotide analogs do not disrupt the complex. We demonstrate that exogenous recombinant wild-type hsp70 can associate with activated HSF, whereas no association is observed with an amino-terminal or a carboxy-terminal deletion mutant of hsp70. We also show that hsp70 blocks the in vitro activation of HSF from its cryptic non-DNA-binding state to a DNA-binding form; this inhibitory effect of hsp70 is abolished by ATP. We suggest that hsp70 may negatively regulate the activation of HSF.
By virtue of its control over major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) gene expression, CIITA represents a key molecule in the regulation of adaptive immune responses. It was first identified as a factor that is defective in MHC-II deficiency, a hereditary disease characterized by the absence of MHC-II expression. CIITA is a highly regulated transactivator that governs all spatial, temporal, and quantitative aspects of MHC-II expression. It has been proposed to act as a non-DNA-binding transcriptional coactivator, but evidence that it actually functions at the level of MHC-II promoters was lacking. By means of chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we show here for the first time that CIITA is physically associated with MHC-II, as well as HLA-DM, Ii, MHC-I, and beta(2)m promoters in vivo. To dissect the mechanism by which CIITA is recruited to the promoter, we have developed a DNA-dependent coimmunoprecipitation assay and a pull-down assay using immobilized promoter templates. We demonstrate that CIITA recruitment depends on multiple, synergistic protein-protein interactions with DNA-bound factors constituting the MHC-II enhanceosome. CIITA therefore represents a paradigm for a novel type of regulatory and gene-specific transcriptional cofactor.
Over 190 independent insertions into target plasmids of the retrovirus-like element Ty3 were recovered and mapped. Ty3 was shown to insert upstream of tRNA, 5S, and U6 genes, all of which are transcribed by RNA polymerase III. Integration sites were within 1-4 nucleotides of the position of transcription initiation, even for one mutant gene where the polymerase III initiation site was shifted to a completely new context. Mutagenesis of a SUP2 tRNA gene target showed that integration required functional promoter elements but that it did not correlate in a simple way with target transcription. This is the first report directly linking a discrete genomic function with preferential insertion of a retrotransposon.