[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: E74-like factor 5 (ELF5) is an epithelial-specific member of the E26 transforming sequence (ETS) transcription factor family and a critical regulator of cell fate in the placenta, pulmonary bronchi, and milk-producing alveoli of the mammary gland. ELF5 also plays key roles in malignancy, particularly in basal-like and endocrine-resistant forms of breast cancer. Almost all genes undergo alternative transcription or splicing, which increases the diversity of protein structure and function. Although ELF5 has multiple isoforms, this has not been considered in previous studies of ELF5 function. Methods: RNA-sequencing data for 6757 samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas were analyzed to characterize ELF5 isoform expression in multiple normal tissues and cancers. Extensive in vitro analysis of ELF5 isoforms, including a 116-gene quantitative polymerase chain reaction panel, was performed in breast cancer cell lines. Results: ELF5 isoform expression was found to be tissue-specific due to alternative promoter use but altered in multiple cancer types. The normal breast expressed one main isoform, while in breast cancer there were subtype-specific alterations in expression. Expression of other ETS factors was also significantly altered in breast cancer, with the basal-like subtype demonstrating a distinct ETS expression profile. In vitro inducible expression of the full-length isoforms 1 and 2, as well as isoform 3 (lacking the Pointed domain) had similar phenotypic and transcriptional effects. Conclusions: Alternative promoter use, conferring differential regulatory responses, is the main mechanism governing ELF5 action rather than differential transcriptional activity of the isoforms. This understanding of expression and function at the isoform level is a vital first step in realizing the potential of transcription factors such as ELF5 as prognostic markers or therapeutic targets in cancer.
Preview · Article · Dec 2016 · Breast cancer research: BCR
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell junctions play a prominent role in maintaining the epithelial architecture. The disruption or deregulation of these adhesions in cancer can lead to the collapse of tumor epithelia that precedes invasion and subsequent metastasis. Here we generated an E-cadherin-GFP mouse that enables intravital photobleaching and quantification of E-cadherin mobility in live tissue without affecting normal biology. We demonstrate the broad applications of this mouse by examining E-cadherin regulation in multiple tissues, including mammary, brain, liver, and kidney tissue, while specifically monitoring E-cadherin mobility during disease progression in the pancreas. We assess E-cadherin stability in native pancreatic tissue upon genetic manipulation involving Kras and p53 or in response to anti-invasive drug treatment and gain insights into the dynamic remodeling of E-cadherin during in situ cancer progression. FRAP in the E-cadherin-GFP mouse, therefore, promises to be a valuable tool to fundamentally expand our understanding of E-cadherin-mediated events in native microenvironments.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During pregnancy, the ETS transcription factor ELF5 establishes the milk-secreting alveolar cell lineage by driving a cell fate decision of the mammary luminal progenitor cell. In breast cancer, ELF5 is a key transcriptional determinant of tumor subtype and has been implicated in the development of insensitivity to anti-estrogen therapy. In the mouse mammary tumor virus-Polyoma Middle T (MMTV-PyMT) model of luminal breast cancer, induction of ELF5 levels increased leukocyte infiltration, angiogenesis, and blood vessel permeability in primary tumors and greatly increased the size and number of lung metastasis. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells, a group of immature neutrophils recently identified as mediators of vasculogenesis and metastasis, were recruited to the tumor in response to ELF5. Depletion of these cells using specific Ly6G antibodies prevented ELF5 from driving vasculogenesis and metastasis. Expression signatures in luminal A breast cancers indicated that increased myeloid cell invasion and inflammation were correlated with ELF5 expression, and increased ELF5 immunohistochemical staining predicted much shorter metastasis-free and overall survival of luminal A patients, defining a group who experienced unexpectedly early disease progression. Thus, in the MMTV-PyMT mouse mammary model, increased ELF5 levels drive metastasis by co-opting the innate immune system. As ELF5 has been previously implicated in the development of antiestrogen resistance, this finding implicates ELF5 as a defining factor in the acquisition of the key aspects of the lethal phenotype in luminal A breast cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: piRNAs are critical for transposable element (TE) repression and germ cell survival during the early phases of spermatogenesis, however, their role in adult germ cells and the relative importance of piRNA methylation is poorly defined in mammals. Using a mouse model of HEN methyltransferase 1 (HENMT1) loss-of-function, RNA-Seq and a range of RNA assays we show that HENMT1 is required for the 2' O-methylation of mammalian piRNAs. HENMT1 loss leads to piRNA instability, reduced piRNA bulk and length, and ultimately male sterility characterized by a germ cell arrest at the elongating germ cell phase of spermatogenesis. HENMT1 loss-of-function, and the concomitant loss of piRNAs, resulted in TE de-repression in adult meiotic and haploid germ cells, and the precocious, and selective, expression of many haploid-transcripts in meiotic cells. Precocious expression was associated with a more active chromatin state in meiotic cells, elevated levels of DNA damage and a catastrophic deregulation of the haploid germ cell gene expression. Collectively these results define a critical role for HENMT1 and piRNAs in the maintenance of TE repression in adult germ cells and setting the spermatogenic program.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) is a heterogeneous disease with poor prognosis; however, its cellular origins and aetiology are poorly understood. In this study, we show that inhibitor of differentiation 4 (ID4) is a key regulator of mammary stem cell self-renewal and marks a subset of BLBC with a putative mammary basal cell of origin. Using an ID4GFP knock-in reporter mouse and single-cell transcriptomics, we show that ID4 marks a stem cell-enriched subset of the mammary basal cell population. ID4 maintains the mammary stem cell pool by suppressing key factors required for luminal differentiation. Furthermore, ID4 is specifically expressed by a subset of human BLBC that possess a very poor prognosis and a transcriptional signature similar to a mammary stem cell. These studies identify ID4 as a mammary stem cell regulator, deconvolute the heterogeneity of BLBC and link a subset of mammary stem cells to the aetiology of BLBC.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Nature Communications
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Male infertility affects at least 5% of reproductive age males. The most common pathology is a complex presentation of decreased sperm output and abnormal sperm shape and motility referred to as oligoasthenoteratospermia (OAT). For the majority of OAT men a precise diagnosis cannot be provided. Here we demonstrate that leucine-rich repeats and guanylate kinase-domain containing isoform 1 (LRGUK-1) is required for multiple aspects of sperm assembly, including acrosome attachment, sperm head shaping and the initiation of the axoneme growth to form the core of the sperm tail. Specifically, LRGUK-1 is required for basal body attachment to the plasma membrane, the appropriate formation of the sub-distal appendages, the extension of axoneme microtubules and for microtubule movement and organisation within the manchette. Manchette dysfunction leads to abnormal sperm head shaping. Several of these functions may be achieved in association with the LRGUK-1 binding partner HOOK2. Collectively, these data establish LRGUK-1 as a major determinant of microtubule structure within the male germ line.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IntroductionAlthough aberrant tyrosine kinase signaling characterizes particular breast cancer subtypes, a global analysis of tyrosine phosphorylation in mouse models of breast cancer has not been undertaken. This may identify conserved oncogenic pathways and potential therapeutic targets.Methods
We applied an immunoaffinity/mass spectrometry workflow to three mouse models; murine stem cell virus (MSCV)-Neu, expressing truncated Neu, the rat orthologue of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Her2 (HER2); mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV)- polyoma virus middle-T-antigen (PyMT) (PyMT); and the p53 -/- transplant model (p53). Pathways and protein-protein interaction networks were identified by bioinformatics. Molecular mechanisms underpinning differences in tyrosine phosphorylation were characterized by Western blotting and array comparative genomic hybridization. The functional role of Mesenchymal epithelial transition factor (Met) in a subset of p53-null tumours was interrogated using a selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), small interfering (si)RNA-mediated knockdown and cell proliferation assays.ResultsThe three models could be distinguished based on tyrosine phosphorylation signatures and signaling networks. HER2 tumours exhibited a protein-protein interaction network centred on avian erythroblastic leukemia viral oncogene homolog 2 (Erbb2), epidermal growth factor receptor (Egfr) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRa) and displayed enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of ERBB receptor feedback inhibitor 1 (Errfi1). In contrast, the PyMT network displayed significant enrichment for components of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase signaling pathway, whilst p53 tumours exhibited increased tyrosine phosphorylation of Met and components or regulators of the cytoskeleton, and shared signaling network characteristics with basal and claudin-low breast cancer cells. A subset of p53 tumours displayed markedly elevated cellular tyrosine phosphorylation and Met expression, and Met gene amplification. Treatment of cultured p53-null cells exhibiting Met amplification with a selective Met TKI abrogated aberrant tyrosine phosphorylation and blocked cell proliferation. The effects on proliferation were re-capitulated when Met was knocked down using siRNA. Additional subtypes of p53 tumours exhibited increased tyrosine phosphorylation of other oncogenes, including Peak1/SgK269 and Prex2.Conclusion
This study provides network-level insights into signaling in these breast cancer models and demonstrates that comparative phosphoproteomics can identify conserved oncogenic signaling pathways. The Met-amplified, p53-null tumours provide a new pre-clinical model for a subset of triple-negative breast cancers.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Breast cancer research: BCR
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cumulative exposure to estrogen (E) and progesterone (P) over the menstrual cycle significantly influences the risk of developing breast cancer. Despite the dogma that PR in the breast merely serves as a marker of an active estrogen receptor (ER), and as an inhibitor of the proliferative actions of E, it is now clear that in the breast P increases proliferation independently of E action. We show here that the progesterone receptor (PR) and ER are expressed in different epithelial populations, and target non-overlapping pathways in the normal human breast. In breast cancer, PR becomes highly correlated with ER, and this convergence is associated with signaling pathways predictive of disease metastasis. These data challenge the established paradigm that ER and PR function co-operatively in normal breast, and have significant implications not only for our understanding of normal breast biology, but also for diagnosis, prognosis and/or treatment options in breast cancer patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Advances in the study of hematopoietic cell maturation have paved the way to a deeper understanding the stem and progenitor cellular hierarchy in the mammary gland. The mammary epithelium, unlike the hematopoietic cellular hierarchy, sits in a complex niche where communication between epithelial cells and signals from the systemic hormonal milieu, as well as from extra-cellular matrix, influence cell fate decisions and contribute to tissue homeostasis. We review the discovery, definition and regulation of the mammary cellular hierarchy and we describe the development of the concepts that have guided our investigations. We outline recent advances in in vivo lineage tracing that is now challenging many of our assumptions regarding the behavior of mammary stem cells, and we show how understanding these cellular lineages has altered our view of breast cancer.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regulators of differentiated cell fate can offer targets for managing cancer development and progression. Here we identify Runx2 as a new regulator of epithelial cell fate in mammary gland development and breast cancer. Runx2 is expressed in the epithelium of pregnant mice in a strict temporally and hormonally-regulated manner. During pregnancy, Runx2 genetic deletion impaired alveolar differentiation in a manner that disrupted alveolar progenitor cell populations. Conversely, exogenous transgenic expression of Runx2 in mammary epithelial cells blocked milk production, suggesting that the decrease in endogenous Runx2 observed late in pregnancy is necessary for full differentiation. In addition, overexpression of Runx2 drove EMT-like changes in normal mammary epithelial cells, while Runx2 deletion in basal breast cancer cells inhibited cellular phenotypes associated with tumorigenesis. Notably, loss of Runx2 expression increased tumor latency and enhanced overall survival in a mouse model of breast cancer, with Runx2-deficient tumors exhibiting reduced cell proliferation. Together, our results establish a novel function for Runx2 in breast cancer that may offer a novel generalized route for therapeutic interventions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ETV5 (Ets variant gene 5) is a transcription factor that is required for fertility. In this study, we demonstrate that ETV5 plays additional roles in embryonic and postnatal developmental processes in the mouse. Through a genome-wide mouse mutagenesis approach, we generated a sterile mouse line that carried a nonsense mutation in exon 12 of the Etv5 gene. The mutation led to the conversion of lysine at position 412 into a premature termination codon (PTC) within the ETS DNA binding domain of the protein. We showed that the PTC-containing allele produced a highly unstable mRNA, which in turn resulted in an undetectable level of ETV5 protein. The Etv5 mutation resulted in male and female sterility as determined by breeding experiments. Mutant males were sterile due to a progressive loss of spermatogonia, which ultimately resulted in a Sertoli cell only phenotype by 8 week-of-age. Further, the ETV5 target genes Cxcr4 and Ccl9 were significantly down-regulated in mutant neonate testes. CXCR4 and CCL9 have been implicated in the maintenance and migration of spermatogonia, respectively. Moreover, the Etv5 mutation resulted in several developmental abnormalities including an increased incidence of embryonic and perinatal lethality, postnatal growth restriction, polydactyly and renal asymmetry. Thus, our data define a physiological role for ETV5 in many aspects of development including embryonic and perinatal survival, postnatal growth, limb patterning, kidney development and fertility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HER2 (ERBB2) and MYC genes are commonly amplified in breast cancer, yet little is known about their molecular and clinical interaction. Using a novel chimeric mammary transgenic approach and in vitro models, we demonstrate markedly increased self-renewal and tumour-propagating capability of cells transformed with Her2 and c-Myc. Coexpression of both oncoproteins in cultured cells led to the activation of a c-Myc transcriptional signature and acquisition of a self-renewing phenotype independent of an epithelial-mesenchymal transition programme or regulation of conventional cancer stem cell markers. Instead, Her2 and c-Myc cooperated to induce the expression of lipoprotein lipase, which was required for proliferation and self-renewal in vitro. HER2 and MYC were frequently coamplified in breast cancer, associated with aggressive clinical behaviour and poor outcome. Lastly, we show that in HER2(+) breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy (but not targeted anti-Her2 therapy), MYC amplification is associated with a poor outcome. These findings demonstrate the importance of molecular and cellular context in oncogenic transformation and acquisition of a malignant stem-like phenotype and have diagnostic and therapeutic consequences for the clinical management of HER2(+) breast cancer.Oncogene advance online publication, 23 September 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.368.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Overexpression of the anti-apoptotic factor, BCL-2, is a frequent feature of malignant disease and is commonly associated with poor prognosis and resistance to conventional chemotherapy. In breast cancer, however, high BCL-2 expression is associated with favourable prognosis, estrogen receptor (ER) positivity and low tumour grade; whilst low expression is included in several molecular signatures associated with resistance to endocrine therapy. In the present study, we correlate BCL-2 expression and DNA methylation profiles in human breast cancer and in multiple cell models of acquired endocrine-resistance to determine whether BCL-2 hypermethylation could provide a useful biomarker of response to cytotoxic therapy. In human disease, diminished expression of BCL-2 was associated with hypermethylation of the second exon, in a region that overlapped a CpG island and an ER-binding site. Hypermethylation of this region, which occurred in 10% of primary tumours, provided a stronger predictor of patient survival (p=0.019) when compared to gene expression (n=522). In multiple cell-models of acquired endocrine-resistance, BCL-2 expression was significantly reduced in parallel with increased DNA methylation of the exon 2 region. The reduction of BCL-2 expression in endocrine-resistant cells lowered their apoptotic threshold to anti-mitotic agents: nocodazole, paclitaxel and the PLK1 inhibitor, BI2536. This phenomenon could be reversed with ectopic expression of BCL-2, and rescued with the BCL-2 inhibitor, ABT-737. Collectively, these data imply that BCL-2 hypermethylation provides a robust biomarker of response to current and next generation cytotoxic agents in endocrine-resistant breast cancer, which may prove beneficial in directing therapeutic strategy for patients with non-resectable, metastatic disease.
No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing of precursor messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) is common in mammalian cells and enables the production of multiple gene products from a single gene, thus increasing transcriptome and proteome diversity. Disturbance of splicing regulation is associated with many human diseases; however, key splicing factors that control tissue-specific alternative splicing remain largely undefined. In an unbiased genetic screen for essential male fertility genes in the mouse, we identified the RNA binding protein RBM5 (RNA binding motif 5) as an essential regulator of haploid male germ cell pre-mRNA splicing and fertility. Mice carrying a missense mutation (R263P) in the second RNA recognition motif (RRM) of RBM5 exhibited spermatid differentiation arrest, germ cell sloughing and apoptosis, which ultimately led to azoospermia (no sperm in the ejaculate) and male sterility. Molecular modelling suggested that the R263P mutation resulted in compromised mRNA binding. Within the adult mouse testis, RBM5 localises to somatic and germ cells including spermatogonia, spermatocytes and round spermatids. Through the use of RNA pull down coupled with microarrays, we identified 11 round spermatid-expressed mRNAs as putative RBM5 targets. Importantly, the R263P mutation affected pre-mRNA splicing and resulted in a shift in the isoform ratios, or the production of novel spliced transcripts, of most targets. Microarray analysis of isolated round spermatids suggests that altered splicing of RBM5 target pre-mRNAs affected expression of genes in several pathways, including those implicated in germ cell adhesion, spermatid head shaping, and acrosome and tail formation. In summary, our findings reveal a critical role for RBM5 as a pre-mRNA splicing regulator in round spermatids and male fertility. Our findings also suggest that the second RRM of RBM5 is pivotal for appropriate pre-mRNA splicing.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progesterone-RankL paracrine signaling has been proposed as a driver of stem cell expansion in the mammary gland, and Elf5 is essential for the differentiation of mammary epithelial progenitor cells. We demonstrate that Elf5 expression is induced by progesterone and that Elf5 and progesterone cooperate to promote alveolar development. The progesterone receptor and Elf5 are expressed in a mutually exclusive pattern, and we identify RankL as the paracrine mediator of the effects of progesterone on Elf5 expression in CD61+ progenitor cells and their consequent differentiation. Blockade of RankL action prevented progesterone-induced side branching and the expansion of Elf5+ mature luminal cells. These findings describe a mechanism by which steroid hormones can produce the expansion of steroid hormone receptor-negative mammary epithelial cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metastatic neuroblastoma is an aggressive childhood cancer of neural crest origin. Stathmin, a microtubule destabilizing protein, is highly expressed in neuroblastoma although its functional role in this malignancy has not been addressed. Herein, we investigate stathmin's contribution to neuroblastoma tumor growth and metastasis. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated stathmin suppression in two independent neuroblastoma cell lines, BE(2)-C and SH-SY5Y, did not markedly influence cell proliferation, viability or anchorage-independent growth. In contrast, stathmin suppression significantly reduced cell migration and invasion in both the neuroblastoma cell lines. Stathmin suppression altered neuroblastoma cell morphology and this was associated with changes in the cytoskeleton, including increased tubulin polymer levels. Stathmin suppression also modulated phosphorylation of the actin-regulatory proteins, cofilin and myosin light chain (MLC). Treatment of stathmin-suppressed neuroblastoma cells with the ROCKI and ROCKII inhibitor, Y-27632, ablated MLC phosphorylation and returned the level of cofilin phosphorylation and cell invasion back to that of untreated control cells. ROCKII inhibition (H-1152) and siRNA suppression also reduced cofilin phosphorylation in stathmin-suppressed cells, indicating that ROCKII mediates stathmin's regulation of cofilin phosphorylation. This data demonstrates a link between stathmin and the regulation of cofilin and MLC phosphorylation via ROCK. To examine stathmin's role in neuroblastoma metastasis, stathmin short hairpin RNA (shRNA)\luciferase-expressing neuroblastoma cells were injected orthotopically into severe combined immunodeficiency-Beige mice, and tumor growth monitored by bioluminescent imaging. Stathmin suppression did not influence neuroblastoma cell engraftment or tumor growth. In contrast, stathmin suppression significantly reduced neuroblastoma lung metastases by 71% (P<0.008) compared with control. This is the first study to confirm a role for stathmin in hematogenous spread using a clinically relevant orthotopic cancer model, and has identified stathmin as an important contributor of cell invasion and metastasis in neuroblastoma.Oncogene advance online publication, 11 February 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.11.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that during pregnancy the E-twenty-six (ETS) transcription factor ELF5 directs the differentiation of mammary progenitor cells toward the estrogen receptor (ER)-negative and milk producing cell lineage, raising the possibility that ELF5 may suppress the estrogen sensitivity of breast cancers. To test this we constructed inducible models of ELF5 expression in ER positive luminal breast cancer cells and interrogated them using transcript profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation of DNA followed by DNA sequencing (ChIP-Seq). ELF5 suppressed ER and FOXA1 expression and broadly suppressed ER-driven patterns of gene expression including sets of genes distinguishing the luminal molecular subtype. Direct transcriptional targets of ELF5, which included FOXA1, EGFR, and MYC, accurately classified a large cohort of breast cancers into their intrinsic molecular subtypes, predicted ER status with high precision, and defined groups with differential prognosis. Knockdown of ELF5 in basal breast cancer cell lines suppressed basal patterns of gene expression and produced a shift in molecular subtype toward the claudin-low and normal-like groups. Luminal breast cancer cells that acquired resistance to the antiestrogen Tamoxifen showed greatly elevated levels of ELF5 and its transcriptional signature, and became dependent on ELF5 for proliferation, compared to the parental cells. Thus ELF5 provides a key transcriptional determinant of breast cancer molecular subtype by suppression of estrogen sensitivity in luminal breast cancer cells and promotion of basal characteristics in basal breast cancer cells, an action that may be utilised to acquire antiestrogen resistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A significant percentage of young men are infertile and, for the majority, the underlying cause remains unknown. Male infertility is, however, frequently associated with defective sperm motility, wherein the sperm tail is a modified flagella/cilia. Conversely, a greater understanding of essential mechanisms involved in tail formation may offer contraceptive opportunities, or more broadly, therapeutic strategies for global cilia defects. Here we have identified Rab-like 2 (RABL2) as an essential requirement for sperm tail assembly and function. RABL2 is a member of a poorly characterized clade of the RAS GTPase superfamily. RABL2 is highly enriched within developing male germ cells, where it localizes to the mid-piece of the sperm tail. Lesser amounts of Rabl2 mRNA were observed in other tissues containing motile cilia. Using a co-immunoprecipitation approach and RABL2 affinity columns followed by immunochemistry, we demonstrated that within developing haploid germ cells RABL2 interacts with intra-flagella transport (IFT) proteins and delivers a specific set of effector (cargo) proteins, including key members of the glycolytic pathway, to the sperm tail. RABL2 binding to effector proteins is regulated by GTP. Perturbed RABL2 function, as exemplified by the Mot mouse line that contains a mutation in a critical protein-protein interaction domain, results in male sterility characterized by reduced sperm output, and sperm with aberrant motility and short tails. Our data demonstrate a novel function for the RABL protein family, an essential role for RABL2 in male fertility and a previously uncharacterised mechanism for protein delivery to the flagellum.