The identification and characterization of human Sister-of-Mammalian Grainyhead (SOM) expands the grainyhead-like family of developmental transcription factors.
ABSTRACT: The Drosophila gene grainyhead is the founding member of a large family of genes encoding developmental transcription factors that are highly conserved from fly to human. The family consists of two main branches, with grainyhead as the ancestral gene for one branch and the recently cloned Drosophila CP2 as the ancestral gene for the other. We now extend this family with the identification of another novel mammalian member, Sister-of-Mammalian Grainyhead (SOM), which is phylogenetically aligned with grainyhead. SOM is closely related to the other mammalian homologues of grainyhead, including Mammalian Grainyhead (MGR) and Brother-of-MGR, sharing a high degree of sequence identity with these factors in the functional DNA-binding, protein dimerization and activation domains. Protein interaction studies demonstrate that SOM can heterodimerize with MGR and Brother-of-MGR, but not with the more distant members of the family. Like grainyhead, the SOM gene too produces several distinct isoforms with differing functional properties through alternative splicing. The tissue distributions of these isoforms differ and all display highly restricted expression patterns. These findings indicate that SOM, like its family members, may play important roles in mammalian development.
Project description:The LSF/Grainyhead transcription factor family is involved in many important biological processes, including cell cycle, cell growth and development. In order to investigate the evolutionary conservation of these biological roles, we have characterized two new family members in Caenorhabditis elegans and Xenopus laevis. The C.elegans member, Ce-GRH-1, groups with the Grainyhead subfamily, while the X.laevis member, Xl-LSF, groups with the LSF subfamily. Ce-GRH-1 binds DNA in a sequence-specific manner identical to that of Drosophila melanogaster Grainyhead. In addition, Ce-GRH-1 binds to sequences upstream of the C.elegans gene encoding aromatic L-amino-acid decarboxylase and genes involved in post-embryonic development, mab-5 and dbl-1. All three C.elegans genes are homologs of D.melanogaster Grainyhead-regulated genes. RNA-mediated interference of Ce-grh-1 results in embryonic lethality in worms, accompanied by soft, defective cuticles. These phenotypes are strikingly similar to those observed previously in D.melanogaster grainyhead mutants, suggesting conservation of the developmental role of these family members over the course of evolution. Our phylogenetic analysis of the expanded LSF/GRH family (including other previously unrecognized proteins/ESTs) suggests that the structural and functional dichotomy of this family dates back more than 700 million years, i.e. to the time when the first multicellular organisms are thought to have arisen.
Project description:Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) is one of the three mammalian homologues of Drosophila Grainyhead involved in epithelial morphogenesis. We recently showed that GRHL2 also controls normal epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation. In this study, we investigated the role of GRHL2 in oral carcinogenesis and the underlying mechanism. GRHL2 expression was elevated in cells and tissues of oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) compared with normal counterparts. Knockdown of GRHL2 resulted in the loss of in vivo tumorigenicity, cancer stemness and epithelial phenotype of oral cancer cells. GRHL2 loss also inhibited oral cancer cell proliferation and colony formation. GRHL2 regulated the expression of miR-200 family and Octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (Oct-4) genes through direct promoter DNA binding. Overexpression of miR-200 genes in the oral cancer cells depleted of GRHL2 partially restored the epithelial phenotype, proliferative rate and cancer stemness, indicating that miR-200 genes in part mediate the functional effects of GRHL2. Taken together, this study demonstrates a novel connection between GRHL2 and miR-200, and supports protumorigenic effect of GRHL2 on OSCCs.
Project description:Among the transcription factors that are conserved across phylogeny, the grainyhead family holds vital roles in driving the epithelial cell fate. In Drosophila, the function of grainyhead (grh) gene is essential during developmental processes such as epithelial differentiation, tracheal tube formation, maintenance of wing and hair polarity, and epidermal barrier wound repair. Three main mammalian orthologs of grh: Grainyhead-like 1-3 (GRHL1, GRHL2, and GRHL3) are highly conserved in terms of their gene structures and functions. GRHL proteins are essentially associated with the development and maintenance of the epithelial phenotype across diverse physiological conditions such as epidermal differentiation and craniofacial development as well as pathological functions including hearing impairment and neural tube defects. More importantly, through direct chromatin binding and induction of epigenetic alterations, GRHL factors function as potent suppressors of oncogenic cellular dedifferentiation program - epithelial-mesenchymal transition and its associated tumor-promoting phenotypes such as tumor cell migration and invasion. On the contrary, GRHL factors also induce pro-tumorigenic effects such as increased migration and anchorage-independent growth in certain tumor types. Furthermore, investigations focusing on the epithelial-specific activation of grh and GRHL factors have revealed that these factors potentially act as a pioneer factor in establishing a cell-type/cell-state specific accessible chromatin landscape that is exclusive for epithelial gene transcription. In this review, we highlight the essential roles of grh and GRHL factors during embryogenesis and pathogenesis, with a special focus on its emerging pioneering function.
Project description:Grainyhead transcription factors play an evolutionarily conserved role in regulating epidermal terminal differentiation. One such factor, the mammalian Grainyhead-like epithelial transactivator (Get1/Grhl3), is important for epidermal barrier formation. In addition to a role in barrier formation, Grainyhead genes play roles in closure of several structures such as the mouse neural tube and Drosophila wounds. Consistent with these observations, we found that Get1 knockout mice have an eye-open at birth phenotype. The failure of eyelid closure appears to be due to critical functions of Get1 in promoting F-actin polymerization, filopodia formation, and the cell shape changes that are required for migration of the keratinocytes at the leading edge during eyelid closure. The expression of TGFalpha, a known regulator of leading edge formation, is decreased in the eyelid tip of Get1(-/-) mice. Levels of phospho-EGFR and phospho-ERK are also decreased at the leading edge tip. Furthermore, in an organ culture model, TGFalpha can increase levels of phospho-EGFR and promote cell shape changes as well as leading edge formation in Get1(-/-) eyelids, indicating that in eyelid closure Get1 acts upstream of TGFalpha in the EGFR/ERK pathway.
Project description:We recently identified Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2), a mammalian homolog of Grainyhead in Drosophila, to be a novel transcription factor that regulates hTERT gene expression and enhances proliferation of normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK). In the current study, we show that GRHL2 impairs keratinocyte differentiation through transcriptional inhibition of the genes clustered at the epidermal differentiation complex (EDC), located at chromosome 1q21. Gene expression profiling and subsequent in vitro assays revealed consistent downregulation of EDC genes, for example, IVL, KRT1, FLG, LCEs, and SPRRs, in NHEK expressing exogenous GRHL2. In vivo binding assay by chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed GRHL2 association at the promoter regions of its target genes, many of which belong to EDC. Exogenous GRHL2 expression also inhibited recruitment of histone demethylase Jmjd3 to the EDC gene promoters and enhanced the level of histone 3 Lys 27 trimethylation enrichment at these promoters. Survey of GRHL2 expression in human skin tissues demonstrated enhanced protein and mRNA levels in chronic skin lesions with impaired keratinocyte differentiation, for example, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, compared with normal epidermis. These data indicate that GRHL2 impairs epidermal differentiation by inhibiting EDC gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms and support its role in the hyperproliferative skin diseases.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The transcription factors of the LSF/Grainyhead (GRH) family are characterized by the possession of a distinctive DNA-binding domain that bears no clear relationship to other known DNA-binding domains, with the possible exception of the p53 core domain. In triploblastic animals, the LSF and GRH subfamilies have diverged extensively with respect to their biological roles, general expression patterns, and mechanism of DNA binding. For example, Grainyhead (GRH) homologs are expressed primarily in the epidermis, and they appear to play an ancient role in maintaining the epidermal barrier. By contrast, LSF homologs are more widely expressed, and they regulate general cellular functions such as cell cycle progression and survival in addition to cell-lineage specific gene expression. RESULTS:To illuminate the early evolution of this family and reconstruct the functional divergence of LSF and GRH, we compared homologs from 18 phylogenetically diverse taxa, including four basal animals (Nematostella vectensis, Vallicula multiformis, Trichoplax adhaerens, and Amphimedon queenslandica), a choanoflagellate (Monosiga brevicollis) and several fungi. Phylogenetic and bioinformatic analyses of these sequences indicate that (1) the LSF/GRH gene family originated prior to the animal-fungal divergence, and (2) the functional diversification of the LSF and GRH subfamilies occurred prior to the divergence between sponges and eumetazoans. Aspects of the domain architecture of LSF/GRH proteins are well conserved between fungi, choanoflagellates, and metazoans, though within the Metazoa, the LSF and GRH families are clearly distinct. We failed to identify a convincing LSF/GRH homolog in the sequenced genomes of the algae Volvox carteri and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii or the amoebozoan Dictyostelium purpureum. Interestingly, the ancestral GRH locus has become split into two separate loci in the sea anemone Nematostella, with one locus encoding a DNA binding domain and the other locus encoding the dimerization domain. CONCLUSIONS:In metazoans, LSF and GRH proteins play a number of roles that are essential to achieving and maintaining multicellularity. It is now clear that this protein family already existed in the unicellular ancestor of animals, choanoflagellates, and fungi. However, the diversification of distinct LSF and GRH subfamilies appears to be a metazoan invention. Given the conserved role of GRH in maintaining epithelial integrity in vertebrates, insects, and nematodes, it is noteworthy that the evolutionary origin of Grh appears roughly coincident with the evolutionary origin of the epithelium.
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in carcinoma cells enhances malignant progression by promoting invasion and survival. EMT is induced by microenvironmental factors, including TGF-? and Wnt agonists, and by the E-box-binding transcription factors Twist, Snail, and ZEB. Grainyhead-like-2 (GRHL2), a member of the mammalian Grainyhead family of wound-healing regulatory transcription factors, suppresses EMT and restores sensitivity to anoikis by repressing ZEB1 expression and inhibiting TGF-? signaling. In this study, we elucidate the functional relationship between GRHL2 and ZEB1 in EMT/MET and tumor biology. At least three homeodomain proteins, Six1, LBX1, and HoxA5, transactivated the ZEB1 promoter, in the case of Six1, through direct protein-promoter interaction. GRHL2 altered the Six1-DNA complex, inhibiting this transactivation. Correspondingly, GRHL2 expression prevented tumor initiation in xenograft assays, sensitized breast cancer cells to paclitaxel, and suppressed the emergence of CD44(high)CD24(low) cells (defining the cancer stem cell phenotype in the cell type studied). GRHL2 was downregulated in recurrent mouse tumors that had evolved to an oncogene-independent, EMT-like state, supporting a role for GRHL2 downregulation in this phenotypic transition, modeling disease recurrence. The combination of TGF-? and Wnt activation repressed GRHL2 expression by direct interaction of ZEB1 with the GRHL2 promoter, inducing EMT. Together, our observations indicate that a reciprocal feedback loop between GRHL2 and ZEB1 controls epithelial versus mesenchymal phenotypes and EMT-driven tumor progression.
Project description:Grainyhead (Grh)/CP2 transcription factors are highly conserved in multicellular organisms as key regulators of epithelial differentiation, organ development and skin barrier formation. In addition, they have been implicated as being tumor suppressors in a variety of human cancers. Despite their physiological importance, little is known about their structure and DNA binding mode. Here, we report the first structural study of mammalian Grh/CP2 factors. Crystal structures of the DNA-binding domains of grainyhead-like (Grhl) 1 and Grhl2 reveal a closely similar conformation with immunoglobulin-like core. Both share a common fold with the tumor suppressor p53, but differ in important structural features. The Grhl1 DNA-binding domain binds duplex DNA containing the consensus recognition element in a dimeric arrangement, supporting parsimonious target-sequence selection through two conserved arginine residues. We elucidate the molecular basis of a cancer-related mutation in Grhl1 involving one of these arginines, which completely abrogates DNA binding in biochemical assays and transcriptional activation of a reporter gene in a human cell line. Thus, our studies establish the structural basis of DNA target-site recognition by Grh transcription factors and reveal how tumor-associated mutations inactivate Grhl proteins. They may serve as points of departure for the structure-based development of Grh/CP2 inhibitors for therapeutic applications.
Project description:Grainyhead genes are involved in wound healing and developmental neural tube closure. In light of the high degree of similarity between the epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) occurring in wound-healing processes and the cancer stem cell-like compartment of tumors, including TGF-? dependence, we investigated the role of the Grainyhead gene, Grainyhead-like-2 (GRHL2) in oncogenic EMT. GRHL2 was downregulated specifically in the claudin-low subclass breast tumors and in basal-B subclass breast cancer cell lines. GRHL2 suppressed TGF-?-induced, Twist-induced or spontaneous EMT, enhanced anoikis sensitivity, and suppressed mammosphere generation in mammary epithelial cells. These effects were mediated in part by suppression of ZEB1 expression via direct repression of the ZEB1 promoter. GRHL2 also inhibited Smad-mediated transcription and it upregulated mir-200b/c as well as the TGF-? receptor antagonist, BMP2. Finally, ectopic expression of GRHL2 in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells triggered an MET and restored sensitivity to anoikis. Taken together, our findings define a major role for GRHL2 in the suppression of oncogenic EMT in breast cancer cells.
Project description:: The Drosophila grainyhead (grh) and vertebrate Grainyhead-like (Grhl) transcription factors are among the most critical genes for epithelial development, maintenance and homeostasis, and are remarkably well conserved from fungi to humans. Mutations affecting grh/Grhl function lead to a myriad of developmental and adult onset epithelial disease, such as aberrant skin barrier formation, facial/palatal clefting, impaired neural tube closure, age-related hearing loss, ectodermal dysplasia, and importantly, cancers of epithelial origin. Recently, mutations in the family member GRHL3 have been shown to lead to both syndromic and non-syndromic facial and palatal clefting in humans, particularly the genetic disorder Van Der Woude Syndrome (VWS), as well as spina bifida, whereas mutations in mammalian Grhl2 lead to exencephaly and facial clefting. As transcription factors, Grhl proteins bind to and activate (or repress) a substantial number of target genes that regulate and drive a cascade of transcriptional networks. A multitude of large-scale datasets have been generated to explore the grh/Grhl-dependent transcriptome, following ablation or mis-regulation of grh/Grhl-function. Here, we have performed a meta-analysis of all 41 currently published grh and Grhl RNA-SEQ, and microarray datasets, in order to identify and characterise the transcriptional networks controlled by grh/Grhl genes across disparate biological contexts. Moreover, we have also cross-referenced our results with published ChIP and ChIP-SEQ datasets, in order to determine which of the critical effector genes are likely to be direct grh/Grhl targets, based on genomic occupancy by grh/Grhl genes. Lastly, to interrogate the predictive strength of our approach, we experimentally validated the expression of the top 10 candidate grhl target genes in epithelial development, in a zebrafish model lacking grhl3, and found that orthologues of seven of these (cldn23, ppl, prom2, ocln, slc6a19, aldh1a3, and sod3) were significantly down-regulated at 48 hours post-fertilisation. Therefore, our study provides a strong predictive resource for the identification of putative grh/grhl effector target genes.