The transcription factors Grainyhead-like 2 and NK2-homeobox 1 form a regulatory loop that coordinates lung epithelial cell morphogenesis and differentiation.
ABSTRACT: The Grainyhead family of transcription factors controls morphogenesis and differentiation of epithelial cell layers in multicellular organisms by regulating cell junction- and proliferation-related genes. Grainyhead-like 2 (Grhl2) is expressed in developing mouse lung epithelium and is required for normal lung organogenesis. The specific epithelial cells expressing Grhl2 and the genes regulated by Grhl2 in normal lungs are mostly unknown. In these studies we identified the NK2-homeobox 1 transcription factor (Nkx2-1) as a direct transcriptional target of Grhl2. By binding and transcriptional assays and by confocal microscopy we showed that these two transcription factors form a positive feedback loop in vivo and in cell lines and are co-expressed in lung bronchiolar and alveolar type II cells. The morphological changes observed in flattening lung alveolar type II cells in culture are associated with down-regulation of Grhl2 and Nkx2-1. Reduction of Grhl2 in lung epithelial cell lines results in lower expression levels of Nkx2-1 and of known Grhl2 target genes. By microarray analysis we identified that in addition to Cadherin1 and Claudin4, Grhl2 regulates other cell interaction genes such as semaphorins and their receptors, which also play a functional role in developing lung epithelium. Impaired collective cell migration observed in Grhl2 knockdown cell monolayers is associated with reduced expression of these genes and may contribute to the altered epithelial phenotype reported in Grhl2 mutant mice. Thus, Grhl2 functions at the nexus of a novel regulatory network, connecting lung epithelial cell identity, migration, and cell-cell interactions.
Project description:The Grainyhead family of transcription factors controls morphogenesis and differentiation of epithelial cell layers in multicellular organisms by regulating cell junction- and proliferation-related genes. Grainyhead-like 2 (Grhl2) is expressed in developing mouse lung epithelium and is required for normal lung organogenesis. The specific epithelial cells expressing Grhl2 and the genes regulated by Grhl2 in normal lungs are mostly unknown. In these studies, we identified the NK2 homeobox 1 transcription factor (Nkx2-1) as a direct transcriptional target of Grhl2. By binding and transcriptional assays, and by confocal microscopy we showed that these two transcription factors form a positive feed-back loop in vivo and in cell lines, and are co-expressed in lung bronchiolar and alveolar type II cells. The morphological changes observed in flattening lung alveolar type II cells in culture are associated with down-regulation of Grhl2 and Nkx2-1. Reduction of Grhl2 in lung epithelial cell lines results in lower expression levels of Nkx2-1 and of known Grhl2 target genes. By microarray analysis we identified that in addition to Cadherin1 and Claudin4, Grhl2 regulates other cell interaction genes such as semaphorins and their receptors, which also play a functional role in developing lung epithelium. Impaired collective cell migration observed in Grhl2 knockdown cell monolayers is associated with reduced expression of these genes and may contribute to the altered epithelial phenotype reported in Grhl2 mutant mice. Thus, Grhl2 functions at the nexus of a novel regulatory network, connecting lung epithelial cell identity, migration and cell-cell interactions. To identify genes regulated by GRHL2 in lung epithelial cells, we performed cDNA microarray analyses in MLE15 cells transduced with Grhl2-shRNA and compared to a non-silencing control. Independent transductions of MLE15 cells using Grhl2-shRNA (n=3) and a non-silencing control (n=2) were analyzed.
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:Chronic injury of alveolar lung epithelium leads to epithelial disintegrity in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We had reported earlier that Grhl2, a transcriptional factor, maintains alveolar epithelial cell integrity by directly regulating components of adherens and tight junctions and thus hypothesized an important role of GRHL2 in pathogenesis of IPF. Comparison of GRHL2 distribution at different stages of human lung development showed its abundance in developing lung epithelium and in adult lung epithelium. However, GRHL2 is detected in normal human lung mesenchyme only at early fetal stage (week 9). Similar mesenchymal reexpression of GRHL2 was also observed in IPF. Immunofluorescence analysis in serial sections from three IPF patients revealed at least two subsets of alveolar epithelial cells (AEC), based on differential GRHL2 expression and the converse fluorescence intensities for epithelial vs. mesenchymal markers. Grhl2 was not detected in mesenchyme in intraperitoneal bleomycin-induced injury as well as in spontaneously occurring fibrosis in double-mutant HPS1 and HPS2 mice, whereas in contrast in a radiation-induced fibrosis model, with forced Forkhead box M1 (Foxm1) expression, an overlap of Grhl2 with a mesenchymal marker was observed in fibrotic regions. Grhl2's role in alveolar epithelial cell plasticity was confirmed by altered Grhl2 gene expression analysis in IPF and further validated by in vitro manipulation of its expression in alveolar epithelial cell lines. Our findings reveal important pathophysiological differences between human IPF and specific mouse models of fibrosis and support a crucial role of GRHL2 in epithelial activation in lung fibrosis and perhaps also in epithelial plasticity.
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:Oral mucosa provides the first line of defense against a diverse array of environmental and microbial irritants by forming the barrier of epithelial cells interconnected by multiprotein tight junctions (TJ), adherens junctions, desmosomes, and gap junction complexes. Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2), an epithelial-specific transcription factor, may play a role in the formation of the mucosal epithelial barrier, as it regulates the expression of the junction proteins. The current study investigated the role of GRHL2 in the Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg)-induced impairment of epithelial barrier functions. Exposure of human oral keratinocytes (HOK-16B and OKF6 cells) to Pg or Pg-derived lipopolysaccharides (Pg LPSs) led to rapid loss of endogenous GRHL2 and the junction proteins (e.g., zonula occludens, E-cadherin, claudins, and occludin). GRHL2 directly regulated the expression levels of the junction proteins and the epithelial permeability for small molecules (e.g., dextrans and Pg bacteria). To explore the functional role of GRHL2 in oral mucosal barrier, we used a Grhl2 conditional knockout (KO) mouse model, which allows for epithelial tissue-specific Grhl2 KO in an inducible manner. Grhl2 KO impaired the expression of the junction proteins at the junctional epithelium and increased the alveolar bone loss in the ligature-induced periodontitis model. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed increased epithelial penetration of oral bacteria in Grhl2 KO mice compared with the wild-type mice. Also, blood loadings of oral bacteria (e.g., Bacteroides, Bacillus, Firmicutes, ?-proteobacteria, and Spirochetes) were significantly elevated in Grhl2 KO mice compared to the wild-type littermates. These data indicate that Pg bacteria may enhance paracellular penetration through oral mucosa in part by targeting the expression of GRHL2 in the oral epithelial cells, which then impairs the epithelial barrier by inhibition of junction protein expression, resulting in increased alveolar tissue destruction and systemic bacteremia.
Project description:Natural Killer (NK) cells suppress tumor initiation and metastasis. Most carcinomas are heterogeneous mixtures of epithelial, mesenchymal and hybrid tumor cells, but the relationships of these phenotypes to NK susceptibility are understood incompletely. Grainyhead-like-2 (GRHL2) is a master programmer of the epithelial phenotype, that is obligatorily down-regulated during experimentally induced Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). Here, we utilize GRHL2 re-expression to discover unifying molecular mechanisms that link the epithelial phenotype with NK-sensitivity. GRHL2 enhanced the expression of ICAM-1, augmenting NK-target cell synaptogenesis and NK killing of target cells. The expression of multiple interferon response genes, including ICAM1, anti-correlated with EMT. We identified two novel GRHL2-interacting proteins, the histone methyltransferases KMT2C and KMT2D. Mesenchymal-epithelial transition, NK-sensitization and ICAM-1 expression were promoted by GRHL2-KMT2C/D interactions and by GRHL2 inhibition of p300, revealing novel and potentially targetable epigenetic mechanisms connecting the epithelial phenotype with target cell susceptibility to NK killing.
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a biological process by which polarized epithelial cells convert into a mesenchymal phenotype, has been implicated to contribute to the molecular heterogeneity of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Here we report that a transcription factor--Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) maintains the epithelial phenotype. EOC tumours with lower GRHL2 levels are associated with the Mes/Mesenchymal molecular subtype and a poorer overall survival. shRNA-mediated knockdown of GRHL2 in EOC cells with an epithelial phenotype results in EMT changes, with increased cell migration, invasion and motility. By ChIP-sequencing and gene expression microarray, microRNA-200b/a is identified as the direct transcriptional target of GRHL2 and regulates the epithelial status of EOC through ZEB1 and E-cadherin. Our study demonstrates that loss of GRHL2 increases the levels of histone mark H3K27me3 on promoters and GRHL2-binding sites at miR-200b/a and E-cadherin genes. These findings support GRHL2 as a pivotal gatekeeper of EMT in EOC via miR-200-ZEB1.
Project description:Grainyhead transcription factors control epithelial barriers, tissue morphogenesis, and differentiation, but their role in the kidney is poorly understood. Here, we report that nephric duct, ureteric bud, and collecting duct epithelia express high levels of grainyhead-like homolog 2 (Grhl2) and that nephric duct lumen expansion is defective in Grhl2-deficient mice. In collecting duct epithelial cells, Grhl2 inactivation impaired epithelial barrier formation and inhibited lumen expansion. Molecular analyses showed that GRHL2 acts as a transcriptional activator and strongly associates with histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation. Integrating genome-wide GRHL2 binding as well as H3 lysine 4 trimethylation chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and gene expression data allowed us to derive a high-confidence GRHL2 target set. GRHL2 transactivated a group of genes including Ovol2, encoding the ovo-like 2 zinc finger transcription factor, as well as E-cadherin, claudin 4 (Cldn4), and the small GTPase Rab25. Ovol2 induction alone was sufficient to bypass the requirement of Grhl2 for E-cadherin, Cldn4, and Rab25 expression. Re-expression of either Ovol2 or a combination of Cldn4 and Rab25 was sufficient to rescue lumen expansion and barrier formation in Grhl2-deficient collecting duct cells. Hence, we identified a Grhl2/Ovol2 network controlling Cldn4 and Rab25 expression that facilitates lumen expansion and barrier formation in subtypes of renal epithelia.
Project description:Cancer cells exhibit phenotypic plasticity during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) involving intermediate states. To study genome-wide epigenetic remodeling associated with EMT plasticity, we integrate the analyses of DNA methylation, ChIP-sequencing of five histone marks (H3K4me1, H3K4me3, H3K27Ac, H3K27me3 and H3K9me3) and transcriptome profiling performed on ovarian cancer cells with different epithelial/mesenchymal states and on a knockdown model of EMT suppressor Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2). We have identified differentially methylated CpG sites associated with EMT, found at promoters of epithelial genes and GRHL2 binding sites. GRHL2 knockdown results in CpG methylation gain and nucleosomal remodeling (reduction in permissive marks H3K4me3 and H3K27ac; elevated repressive mark H3K27me3), resembling the changes observed across progressive EMT states. Epigenetic-modifying agents such as 5-azacitidine, GSK126 and mocetinostat further reveal cell state-dependent plasticity upon GRHL2 overexpression. Overall, we demonstrate that epithelial genes are subject to epigenetic control during intermediate phases of EMT/MET involving GRHL2.
Project description:Lack or excess expression of the surface ectoderm-expressed transcription factor Grainyhead-like2 (Grhl2), each prevent spinal neural tube closure. Here we investigate the causative mechanisms and find reciprocal dysregulation of epithelial genes, cell junction components and actomyosin properties in Grhl2 null and over-expressing embryos. Grhl2 null surface ectoderm shows a shift from epithelial to neuroepithelial identity (with ectopic expression of N-cadherin and Sox2), actomyosin disorganisation, cell shape changes and diminished resistance to neural fold recoil upon ablation of the closure point. In contrast, excessive abundance of Grhl2 generates a super-epithelial surface ectoderm, in which up-regulation of cell-cell junction proteins is associated with an actomyosin-dependent increase in local mechanical stress. This is compatible with apposition of the neural folds but not with progression of closure, unless myosin activity is inhibited. Overall, our findings suggest that Grhl2 plays a crucial role in regulating biomechanical properties of the surface ectoderm that are essential for spinal neurulation.