The transcription factor Gfi1 regulates G-CSF signaling and neutrophil development through the Ras activator RasGRP1.
ABSTRACT: The transcription factor growth factor independence 1 (Gfi1) and the growth factor granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) are individually essential for neutrophil differentiation from myeloid progenitors. Here, we provide evidence that the functions of Gfi1 and G-CSF are linked in the regulation of granulopoiesis. We report that Gfi1 promotes the expression of Ras guanine nucleotide releasing protein 1 (RasGRP1), an exchange factor that activates Ras, and that RasGRP1 is required for G-CSF signaling through the Ras/mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MEK/Erk) pathway. Gfi1-null mice have reduced levels of RasGRP1 mRNA and protein in thymus, spleen, and bone marrow, and Gfi1 transduction in myeloid cells promotes RasGRP1 expression. When stimulated with G-CSF, Gfi1-null myeloid cells are selectively defective at activating Erk1/2, but not signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) or STAT3, and fail to differentiate into neutrophils. Expression of RasGRP1 in Gfi1-deficient cells rescues Erk1/2 activation by G-CSF and allows neutrophil maturation by G-CSF. These results uncover a previously unknown function of Gfi1 as a regulator of RasGRP1 and link Gfi1 transcriptional control to G-CSF signaling and regulation of granulopoiesis.
Project description:Gfi1 supports neutrophil development at the expense of monopoiesis, but the underlying molecular mechanism is incompletely understood. We recently showed that the G-CSFR Y729F mutant, in which tyrosine 729 was mutated to phenylalanine, promoted monocyte rather than neutrophil development in myeloid precursors, which was associated with prolonged activation of Erk1/2 and enhanced activation of c-Fos and Egr-1. We show here that Gfi1 inhibited the expression of c-Fos, Egr-1 and Egr-2, and rescued neutrophil development in cells expressing G-CSFR Y729F. Gfi1 directly bound to and repressed c-Fos and Egr-1, as has been shown for Egr-2, all of which are the immediate early genes (IEGs) of the Erk1/2 pathway. Interestingly, G-CSF- and M-CSF-stimulated activation of Erk1/2 was augmented in lineage-negative (Lin-) bone marrow (BM) cells from Gfi1-/- mice. Suppression of Erk1/2 signaling resulted in diminished expression of c-Fos, Egr-1 and Egr-2, and partially rescued the neutrophil development of Gfi1-/- BM cells, which are intrinsically defective for neutrophil development. Together, our data indicate that Gfi1 inhibits the expression of c-Fos, Egr-1 and Egr-2 through direct transcriptional repression and indirect inhibition of Erk1/2 signaling, and that Gfi1-mediated downregulation of c-Fos, Egr-1 and Egr-2 may contribute to the role of Gfi1 in granulopoiesis.
Project description:The zinc finger protein growth factor independent-1 (Gfi1) is a transcriptional repressor that is critically required for normal granulocytic differentiation. GFI1 loss-of-function mutations are found in some patients with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN). The SCN-associated GFI1-mutant proteins act as dominant negatives to block granulopoiesis through selective deregulation of a subset of GFI1 target genes. Here we show that Gfi1 is a master regulator of microRNAs, and that deregulated expression of these microRNAs recapitulates a Gfi1 loss-of-function block to granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-stimulated granulopoiesis. Specifically, bone marrow cells from a GFI1-mutant SCN patient and Gfi1(-/-) mice display deregulated expression of miR-21 and miR-196B expression. Flow cytometric analysis and colony assays reveal that the overexpression or depletion of either miR induces changes in myeloid development. However, coexpression of miR-21 and miR-196b (as seen in Gfi1(-/-) mice and a GFI1N382S SCN patient) completely blocks G-CSF-induced granulopoiesis. Thus, our results not only identify microRNAs whose regulation is required during myelopoiesis, but also provide an example of synergy in microRNA biologic activity and illustrate potential mechanisms underlying SCN disease pathogenesis.
Project description:Enhanced signaling by the small guanosine triphosphatase Ras is common in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL), but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We identified the guanine nucleotide exchange factor RasGRP1 (Rasgrp1 in mice) as a Ras activator that contributes to leukemogenesis. We found increased RasGRP1 expression in many pediatric T-ALL patients, which is not observed in rare early T cell precursor T-ALL patients with KRAS and NRAS mutations, such as K-Ras(G12D). Leukemia screens in wild-type mice, but not in mice expressing the mutant K-Ras(G12D) that encodes a constitutively active Ras, yielded frequent retroviral insertions that led to increased Rasgrp1 expression. Rasgrp1 and oncogenic K-Ras(G12D) promoted T-ALL through distinct mechanisms. In K-Ras(G12D) T-ALLs, enhanced Ras activation had to be uncoupled from cell cycle arrest to promote cell proliferation. In mouse T-ALL cells with increased Rasgrp1 expression, we found that Rasgrp1 contributed to a previously uncharacterized cytokine receptor-activated Ras pathway that stimulated the proliferation of T-ALL cells in vivo, which was accompanied by dynamic patterns of activation of effector kinases downstream of Ras in individual T-ALLs. Reduction of Rasgrp1 abundance reduced cytokine-stimulated Ras signaling and decreased the proliferation of T-ALL in vivo. The position of RasGRP1 downstream of cytokine receptors as well as the different clinical outcomes that we observed as a function of RasGRP1 abundance make RasGRP1 an attractive future stratification marker for T-ALL.
Project description:Ras mutations are present in only a subset of sporadic human cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCC) even though Ras is activated in most. This suggests that other mechanisms of Ras activation play a role in the disease. The aberrant expression of RasGRP1, a guanyl nucleotide exchange factor for Ras, is critical for mouse cSCC development through its ability to increase Ras activity. However, the role of RasGRP1 in human keratinocyte carcinogenesis remains unknown. Here we report that RasGRP1 is significantly elevated in human cSCC and that high RasGRP1 expression in human primary keratinocytes triggered activation of endogenous Ras and significant morphological changes including cytoplasmic vacuole formation and growth arrest. Moreover, RasGRP1-expressing cells were autophagic as indicated by LC3-II increase and the formation of LC3 punctae. In an in vitro organotypic skin model, wild type keratinocytes generated a well-stratified epithelium, while RasGRP1-expressing cells failed to do so. Finally, RasGRP1 induced transformation-like changes in skin cells from Li-Fraumeni patients with inactivating p53 mutations, demonstrating the oncogenic potential of this protein. These results support a role for RasGRP1 in human epidermal keratinocyte carcinogenesis and might serve as an important new therapeutic target.
Project description:Ras is frequently activated in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a prevalent form of skin cancer. However, the pathways that contribute to Ras-induced transformation have not been entirely elucidated. We have previously demonstrated that in transgenic mice, overexpression of the Ras activator RasGRP1 promotes the formation of spontaneous skin tumors and enhances malignant progression in the multistage carcinogenesis skin model that relies on the oncogenic activation of H-Ras. Utilizing a RasGRP1 knockout mouse model (RasGRP1 KO), we now show that lack of RasGRP1 reduced the susceptibility to skin tumorigenesis. The dependency on RasGRP1 was associated with a diminished response to the phorbol ester tumor promoter 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). Specifically, we found impairment of epidermal hyperplasia induced by TPA through keratinocyte proliferation. Using a keratinocyte cell line that carries a ras oncogenic mutation, we also demonstrated that RasGRP1 could further activate Ras in response to TPA. Thus, we propose that RasGRP1 upregulates signaling from Ras and contributes to epidermal tumorigenesis by increasing the total dosage of active Ras.
Project description:Cross-linking of NK activating receptors activates phospholipase-gamma and subsequently induces diacylglycerol and Ca(2+) as second messengers of signal transduction. Previous studies reported that Ras guanyl nucleotide-releasing protein (RasGRP) 1, which is activated by diacylglycerol and Ca(2+), is crucial for TCR-mediated Ras-ERK activation. We now report that RasGRP1, which can also be detected in human NK cells, plays an essential role in NK cell effector functions. To examine the role of RasGRP1 in NK cell functions, the expression of RasGRP1 was suppressed using RNA interference. Knockdown of RasGRP1 significantly blocked ITAM-dependent cytokine production as well as NK cytotoxicity. Biochemically, RasGRP1-knockdown NK cells showed markedly decreased ability to activate Ras, ERK, and JNK. Activation of the Ras-MAPK pathway was independently shown to be indispensable for NK cell effector functions via the use of specific pharmacological inhibitors. Our results reveal that RasGRP1 is required for the activation of the Ras-MAPK pathway leading to NK cell effector functions. Moreover, our data suggest that RasGRP1 might act as an important bridge between phospholipase-gamma activation and NK cell effector functions via the Ras-MAPK pathway.
Project description:RasGRP1 is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Ras that binds with high affinity to diacylglycerol analogs like the phorbol esters. Recently, we demonstrated a role for RasGRP1 in skin carcinogenesis and suggested its participation in the action of tumor-promoting phorbol esters like 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) on Ras pathways in epidermal cells. Given the importance of Ras in carcinogenesis, we sought to discern whether RasGRP1 was a critical pathway in Ras activation, using a RasGRP1 knockout (KO) mouse model to examine the response of keratinocytes to TPA. In contrast to the effect seen in wild type keratinocytes, Ras(GTP) levels were barely detected in RasGRP1 KO cells even after 60 min of exposure to phorbol esters. The lack of response was rescued by enforced expression of RasGRP1. Furthermore, small hairpin RNA-induced silencing of RasGRP1 abrogated the effect of TPA on Ras. Analysis of Ras isoforms showed that both H-Ras and N-Ras depended on RasGRP1 for activation by TPA, whereas activation of K-Ras could not be detected. Although RasGRP1 was dispensable for ERK activation in response to TPA, JNK activation was reduced in the KO keratinocytes. Notably, TPA-induced phosphorylation of JNK2, but not JNK1, was reduced by RasGRP1 depletion. These data identify RasGRP1 as a critical molecule in the activation of Ras by TPA in primary mouse keratinocytes and suggest JNK2 as one of the relevant downstream targets. Given the role of TPA as a skin tumor promoter, our findings provide additional support for a role for RasGRP1 in skin carcinogenesis.
Project description:RASGRP1 is an important guanine nucleotide exchange factor and activator of the RAS-MAPK pathway following T cell antigen receptor (TCR) signaling. The consequences of RASGRP1 mutations in humans are unknown. In a patient with recurrent bacterial and viral infections, born to healthy consanguineous parents, we used homozygosity mapping and exome sequencing to identify a biallelic stop-gain variant in RASGRP1. This variant segregated perfectly with the disease and has not been reported in genetic databases. RASGRP1 deficiency was associated in T cells and B cells with decreased phosphorylation of the extracellular-signal-regulated serine kinase ERK, which was restored following expression of wild-type RASGRP1. RASGRP1 deficiency also resulted in defective proliferation, activation and motility of T cells and B cells. RASGRP1-deficient natural killer (NK) cells exhibited impaired cytotoxicity with defective granule convergence and actin accumulation. Interaction proteomics identified the dynein light chain DYNLL1 as interacting with RASGRP1, which links RASGRP1 to cytoskeletal dynamics. RASGRP1-deficient cells showed decreased activation of the GTPase RhoA. Treatment with lenalidomide increased RhoA activity and reversed the migration and activation defects of RASGRP1-deficient lymphocytes.
Project description:The sodium-chloride cotransporter (NCC) is the principal salt-absorptive pathway in the mammalian distal convoluted tubule (DCT) and is the site of action of one of the most effective classes of antihypertensive medications, thiazide diuretics. We developed a cell model system to assess NCC function in a mammalian cell line that natively expresses NCC, the mouse DCT (mDCT) cell line. We used this system to study the complex regulation of NCC by the phorbol ester (PE) 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), a diacylglycerol (DAG) analog. It has generally been thought that PEs mediate their effects on transporters through the activation of PKC. However, there are at least five other DAG/PE targets. Here we describe how one of those alternate targets of DAG/PE effects, Ras guanyl-releasing protein 1 (RasGRP1), mediates the PE-induced suppression of function and the surface expression of NCC. Functional assessment of NCC by using thiazide-sensitive (22)Na(+) uptakes revealed that TPA completely suppresses NCC function. Biotinylation experiments demonstrated that this result was primarily because of decreased surface expression of NCC. Although inhibitors of PKC had no effect on this suppression, MAPK inhibitors completely prevented the TPA effect. RasGRP1 activates the MAPK pathway through activation of the small G protein Ras. Gene silencing of RasGRP1 prevented the PE-mediated suppression of NCC activity, the activation of the H-Ras isoform of Ras, and the activation of ERK1/2 MAPK. This finding confirmed the critical role of RasGRP1 in mediating the PE-induced suppression of NCC activity through the stimulation of the MAPK pathway.
Project description:Normally, neutrophil pools are maintained by homeostatic mechanisms that require the transcription factor C/EBP?. Inflammation, however, induces neutrophilia through a distinct pathway of "emergency" granulopoiesis that is dependent on C/EBP?. Here, we show in mice that alum triggers emergency granulopoiesis through the IL-1RI-dependent induction of G-CSF. G-CSF/G-CSF-R neutralization impairs proliferative responses of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) to alum, but also abrogates the acute mobilization of BM neutrophils, raising the possibility that HSPC responses to inflammation are an indirect result of the exhaustion of BM neutrophil stores. The induction of neutropenia, via depletion with Gr-1 mAb or myeloid-specific ablation of Mcl-1, elicits G-CSF via an IL-1RI-independent pathway, stimulating granulopoietic responses indistinguishable from those induced by adjuvant. Notably, C/EBP?, thought to be necessary for enhanced generative capacity of BM, is dispensable for increased proliferation of HSPC to alum or neutropenia, but plays a role in terminal neutrophil differentiation during granulopoietic recovery. We conclude that alum elicits a transient increase in G-CSF production via IL-1RI for the mobilization of BM neutrophils, but density-dependent feedback sustains G-CSF for accelerated granulopoiesis.