Transcriptional activation of hTERT, the human telomerase reverse transcriptase, by nuclear factor of activated T cells.
ABSTRACT: Telomerase is essential for telomere maintenance, and its activation is thought to be a critical step in cellular immortalization and tumorigenesis. Human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) is a major component of telomerase activity. We show here that hTERT is expressed soon after lymphocyte activation and that its expression is inhibited by rapamycin, wortmannin, and FK506, which was the most potent inhibitor. These results suggest a potential role for the transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) in the regulation of hTERT expression. Five putative NFAT-binding sites were identified in the hTERT promoter. In luciferase assays, the hTERT promoter was activated by overexpressed NFAT1. Moreover, serial deletions revealed that the promoter activation was mainly due to a -40 NFAT1-binding site flanked by two SP1-binding sites. Mutation of the -40 NFAT-binding site caused a 53% reduction in the transcriptional activity of hTERT promoter. Simultaneous mutations of the -40 NFAT-responsive element together with one or both SP1-binding sites led to a more dramatic decrease in luciferase activity than single mutations, suggesting a functional synergy between NFAT1 and SP1 in hTERT transcriptional regulation. NFAT1 overexpression in MCF7 and Jurkat cell lines induced an increase in endogenous hTERT mRNA expression. Inversely, its down-regulation was induced by NFAT1 silencing. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated that NFAT1 directly binds to two sites (-40 and -775) in the endogenous hTERT promoter. Thus, we show for the first time the direct involvement of NFAT1 in the transcriptional regulation of hTERT.
Project description:In human cells the length of telomeres depends on telomerase activity. This activity and the expression of the catalytic subunit of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) is strongly up-regulated in most human cancers. hTERT expression is regulated by different transcription factors, such as c-Myc, Mad1 and Sp1. In this study, we demonstrated that 15d-PG J2 and rosiglitazone (an endogenous and synthetic peroxisome proliferators activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) ligand, respectively) inhibited hTERT expression and telomerase activity in CaCo-2 colon cancer cells. Moreover, both ligands inhibited c-Myc protein expression and its E-box DNA binding activity. Additionally, Mad1 protein expression and its E-box DNA binding activity were strongly increased by 15d-PG J2 and, to a lesser extent, by rosiglitazone. Sp1 transcription factor expression and its GC-box DNA binding activity were not affected by both PPARgamma ligands. Results obtained by transient transfection of CaCo-2 cells with pmaxFP-Green-PRL plasmid constructs containing the functional hTERT core promoter (including one E-box and five GC-boxes) and its E-box deleted sequences, cloned upstream of the green fluorescent protein reporter gene, demonstrated that 15d-PG J2, and with minor effectiveness, rosiglitazone, strongly reduced hTERT core promoter activity. E-boxes for Myc/Mad/Max binding showed a higher activity than GC-boxes for Sp1. By using GW9662, an antagonist of PPARgamma, we demonstrated that the effects of 15d-PG J2 are completely PPARgamma independent, whereas the effects of rosiglitazone on hTERT expression seem to be partially PPARgamma independent. The regulation of hTERT expression by 15d-PG J2 and rosiglitazone, through the modulation of the Myc/Max/Mad1 network, may represent a new mechanism of action of these substances in inhibiting cell proliferation.
Project description:Expression of hTERT is the major limiting factor for telomerase activity. We previously showed that methylation of the hTERT promoter is necessary for its transcription and that CTCF can repress hTERT transcription by binding to the first exon. In this study, we used electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) to show that CTCF does not bind the methylated first exon of hTERT. Treatment of telomerase-positive cells with 5-azadC led to a strong demethylation of hTERT 5'-regulatory region, reactivation of CTCF binding and downregulation of hTERT. Although complete hTERT promoter methylation was associated with full transcriptional repression, detailed mapping showed that, in telomerase-positive cells, not all the CpG sites were methylated, especially in the promoter region. Using a methylation cassette assay, selective demethylation of 110 bp within the core promoter significantly increased hTERT transcriptional activity. This study underlines the dual role of DNA methylation in hTERT transcriptional regulation. In our model, hTERT methylation prevents binding of the CTCF repressor, but partial hypomethylation of the core promoter is necessary for hTERT expression.
Project description:The transcriptional regulation of the human telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT) plays a critical role in telomerase activity. Approximately 200 bp of the proximal core promoter is responsible for basic hTERT expression; however, the function of the distal regulatory elements remains unclear. The transcription factor activator protein 1 (AP-1) is involved in cellular proliferation, differentiation, carcinogenesis, and apoptosis and is expressed broadly in both cancer and normal cells. There are several putative AP-1 sites in the hTERT promoter, but their functions are unknown. The present study examined the regulatory role of AP-1 in hTERT gene transcription. Overexpression of AP-1 leads to transcriptional suppression of hTERT in cancer cells. The combination of c-Fos and c-Jun or c-Fos and JunD strongly suppresses hTERT promoter activity in transient-expression analyses. The hTERT promoter region between -2000 and -378 is responsible for this function. Gel shift and supershift analyses, as well as ChIP, show binding of JunD and c-Jun on two putative AP-1 sites within this region. Mutations in the AP-1 binding sites rescued suppressions caused by AP-1, suggesting this is a direct regulation of the hTERT promoter. In contrast, there was no effect on mTERT expression or mTERT promoter activity by AP-1 overexpression in mouse fibroblasts. The species-specific function of AP-1 in TERT expression may in part help explain the difference in telomerase activity between normal human and mouse cells.
Project description:Although we previously reported that the self-renewal of leukemia-initiating cells of B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL LICs) was regulated by ?-Arrestin1, a multiple-function protein, the cellular senescence is critical for LICs fate and leukemia progress, and worthy for further investigation. Here we found that depletion of ?-Arrestin1 extended the population doubling time and the percentage of senile cells, the signatures of cellular senescence, of B-ALL LICs. Moreover, lack of ?-Arrestin1 enhanced the expression of proteins (CBX, HIRA) and genes (P53, P16) related to senescence in leukemic Reh cells and B-ALL-LICs-derived leukemic mice. Further results showed that loss of ?-Arrestin1 induced senescence of Reh cells through mediating hTERT-telomerase-telomere axis, which was reversed by BIBR1532, the telomerase activity inhibitor. Importantly, depletion of ?-Arrestin1 decreased the binding of Sp1 to hTERT promoter at the region of -28 to -36?bp. The anti-sense oligonucleotide of this key region downregulated the transcription of hTERT and aggravated the senescence of Reh cells. Further data demonstrated that the depleted ?-Arrestin1 reduced the interaction of P300 with Sp1, thus to reduce Sp1 binding to hTERT promoter, downregulate hTERT transcription, decrease telomerase activity, shorten telomere length, and promote Reh cell senescence. Interestingly, the percentage of senile cells in B-ALL LICs was decreased, which was negatively correlated to good prognosis and ?-Arrestin1 mRNA expression in childhood B-ALL patients. Our study shed a light on the senescence of B-ALL LICs and is regulated by ?-Arrestin1, providing the potential therapeutic target of leukemia by promoting cellular senescence with a key region of hTERT promoter.
Project description:Telomerase controls telomere homeostasis and cell immortality and is a promising anti-cancer target, but few small molecule telomerase inhibitors have been developed. Reactivated transcription of the catalytic subunit hTERT in cancer cells controls telomerase expression. Better understanding of upstream pathways is critical for effective anti-telomerase therapeutics and may reveal new targets to inhibit hTERT expression.In a focused promoter screen, several GSK3 inhibitors suppressed hTERT reporter activity. GSK3 inhibition using 6-bromoindirubin-3'-oxime suppressed hTERT expression, telomerase activity and telomere length in several cancer cell lines and growth and hTERT expression in ovarian cancer xenografts. Microarray analysis, network modelling and oligonucleotide binding assays suggested that multiple transcription factors were affected. Extensive remodelling involving Sp1, STAT3, c-Myc, NFkappaB, and p53 occurred at the endogenous hTERT promoter. RNAi screening of the hTERT promoter revealed multiple kinase genes which affect the hTERT promoter, potentially acting through these factors. Prolonged inhibitor treatments caused dynamic expression both of hTERT and of c-Jun, p53, STAT3, AR and c-Myc.Our results indicate that GSK3 activates hTERT expression in cancer cells and contributes to telomere length homeostasis. GSK3 inhibition is a clinical strategy for several chronic diseases. These results imply that it may also be useful in cancer therapy. However, the complex network effects we show here have implications for either setting.
Project description:The hTERT core promoter contains a G-rich region of 12 consecutive G-tracts, embracing 3 Sp1 binding sites, and has the potential to form multiple G-quadruplexes. From the 12 runs of guanines, 9 putative hTERT G-quadruplex-forming sequences were selected to assay for G-quadruplex formation and stability using circular dichroism and a Taq polymerase stop assay. Results from biophysical and chemical assays demonstrate an approximate inverse correlation between total loop size and structure stability. Investigation of the full-length hTERT G-rich sequence using a Taq polymerase stop assay and dimethyl sulfate footprinting revealed the formation of a unique end-to-end stacked G-quadruplex structure from this sequence. This structure consists of an all parallel G-quadruplex, formed by four consecutive G-tracts, linked to another, atypical G-quadruplex, formed by two pairs of consecutive G-tracts separated by a 26-base loop. This 26-base loop likely forms a stable hairpin structure, which would explain the unexpected stability of this G-quadruplex. Significantly, the formation of this tandem G-quadruplex structure in the full-length sequence masks all three Sp1 binding sites, which is predicted to produce significant inhibition of hTERT promoter activity. Furthermore, our study implies that inhibition of telomerase activity by some G-quadruplex ligands is not only produced by targeting telomeric G-quadruplexes but also by stabilization of the hTERT promoter G-quadruplexes.
Project description:Reactivation of telomerase in cancers provides an attractive target for developing novel agents to selectively destroy tumor cells. Methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me), a synthetic oleanane triterpenoid, inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells at very low concentrations. The antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing effects of CDDO-Me were associated with the inhibition of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA, hTERT protein and reduction in hTERT telomerase activity. CDDO-Me inhibited multiple transcription factors that regulate hTERT expression positively (Sp1, c-Myc and NF-?B) and negatively (CTCF, E2F-1 and MAD1). CDDO-Me inhibited protein levels of DNA methyl transferases DNMT1 and DNMT3a, which also resulted in hypomethylation of hTERT promoter. In addition, transcriptionally active chromatin markers, such as acetylated histone H3 (Lys 9), acetylated histone H4, di-methyl H3 (Lys 4) and tri-methyl H3 (Lys 9) were all reduced in pancreatic cancer cells treated with CDDO-Me. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed decreased histone deacetylation and histone demethylation at hTERT promoter. Collectively, these results indicate that down-regulation of telomerase through epigenetic mechanisms plays a critical role in induction of apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells by CDDO-Me.
Project description:Activation of telomerase by human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) E6 is a critical step for cell immortalization and transformation in human foreskin keratinocytes (HFKs). Multiple transcription factors have been identified as being involved in E6-induced hTERT expression. Here, we adapted an unbiased in vivo screen using a LacO-LacI system in human cells to discover hTERT promoter-interacting regulators. This approach allowed us to identify a novel hTERT repressor, Maz, which bound the hTERT promoter. E6 expression reduced Maz binding and correspondingly increased Sp1 binding at the hTERT promoter. Knockdown of Maz further increased histone acetylation, as well as hTERT expression in the presence of E6. Overall, these data indicate the utility of a novel screen for promoter-interacting and transcription-regulating proteins. These data also highlight multiple factors that normally regulate hTERT repression in HFKs, and therefore are targeted by E6 for hTERT expression.
Project description:Angiogenesis is recognized as an important hallmark of cancer. Although telomerase is thought to be involved in tumor angiogenesis, the evidence and underlying mechanism remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) activates vascular epithelial growth factor (VEGF) gene expression through interactions with the VEGF promoter and the transcription factor Sp1. hTERT binds to Sp1 in vitro and in vivo and stimulates angiogenesis in a manner dependent on Sp1. Deletion of the mTert gene in the first generation of Tert null mice compromised tumor growth, with reduced VEGF expression. In addition, we show that hTERT expression levels are positively correlated with those of VEGF in human gastric tumor samples. Together, our results demonstrate that hTERT facilitates tumor angiogenesis by up-regulating VEGF expression through direct interactions with the VEGF gene and the Sp1 transcription factor. These results provide novel insights into hTERT function in tumor progression in addition to its role in telomere maintenance.
Project description:We spliced the promoters of the human telomerase and human survivin genes (PhTERT and PhSurv, respectively) widely used for gene therapy and known to have the broadest cancer type spectrum of activity. Two head-to-tail constructs were obtained: the PhTERT-PhSurv and PhSurv-PhTERT tandems. The splicing caused quantitative and qualitative changes in the promoter features. In both constructs, only the promoter proximal to the transcribed gene retained its ability to initiate transcription, whereas the distal promoter was silent, the phenomenon never reported before. However, the distal promoter modulated the activity of the proximal one by increasing its strength and causing an appearance of additional transcription start sites. We suggested that this suppression might be due to the presence of Sp1 transcription factor binding sites in both promoters and Sp1-bridges between these sites. Such Sp1-bridges might convert the tandem promoter linear DNA into a stem-loop structure. If localized inside the formed loop, the distal promoter could lose its ability to initiate transcription. To test this hypothesis, we constructed two modified double promoters, where the proximal PhSurv promoter was replaced either by a shortened variant of the survivin promoter (PhSurv269) or by the mouse survivin promoter. Both PhSurv substitutes were considerably shorter than PhSurv and had different numbers and/or positions of Sp1 sites. In modified tandems, transcription was initiated from both promoters. We also prepared two mutant forms of the PhSurv-PhTERT tandem with two or four Sp1 sites removed from the distal "long" PhSurv promoter. In the first case, the distal PhSurv promoter remained silent, whereas the removal of four Sp1 binding sites restored its activity. In the majority of studied cancer cell lines the efficiency of transcription from the hTERT-(shortened hSurv269) promoter tandem was markedly higher than from each constituent promoter. In normal lung fibroblast cells, the tandem promoter activity was considerably lower.