Dual roles of the transcription factor grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) in breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: Using a retrovirus-mediated cDNA expression cloning approach, we identified the grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) transcription factor as novel protooncogene. Overexpression of GRHL2 in NIH3T3 cells induced striking morphological changes, an increase in cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor growth in vivo. By combining a microarray analysis and a phylogenetic footprinting analysis with various biochemical assays, we identified the epidermal growth factor receptor family member Erbb3 as a novel GRHL2 target gene. In breast cancer cell lines, shRNA-mediated knockdown of GRHL2 expression or functional inactivation of GRHL2 using dominant negative GRHL2 proteins induces down-regulation of ERBB3 gene expression, a striking reduction in cell proliferation, and morphological and phenotypical alterations characteristic of an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), thus implying contradictory roles of GRHL2 in breast carcinogenesis. Interestingly, we could further demonstrate that expression of GRHL2 is directly suppressed by the transcription factor zinc finger enhancer-binding protein 1 (ZEB1), which in turn is a direct target for repression by GRHL2, suggesting that the EMT transcription factors GRHL2 and ZEB1 form a double negative regulatory feedback loop in breast cancer cells. Finally, a comprehensive immunohistochemical analysis of GRHL2 expression in primary breast cancers showed loss of GRHL2 expression at the invasive front of primary tumors. A pathophysiological relevance of GRHL2 in breast cancer metastasis is further demonstrated by our finding of a statistically significant association between loss of GRHL2 expression in primary breast cancers and lymph node metastasis. We thus demonstrate a crucial role of GRHL2 in breast carcinogenesis.
Project description:Using a retrovirus-mediated cDNA expression cloning approach we identified the grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) transcription factor as novel protooncogene. Overexpression of GRHL2 in NIH3T3 cells induced striking morphological changes, an increase in cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor growth in vivo. By combining a microarray analysis and a phylogenetic footprinting analysis with various biochemical assays we identified the epidermal growth factor receptor family member Erbb3 as a novel GRHL2 target gene. In breast cancer cell lines, shRNA-mediated knockdown of GRHL2 expression or functional inactivation of GRHL2 using dominant-negative GRHL2 proteins induce downregulation of ERBB3 gene expression, a striking reduction in cell proliferation and morphological and phenotypical alterations characteristic of an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), thus implying dual roles of GRHL2 in breast carcinogenesis. Interestingly, we could further demonstrate that expression of GRHL2 is directly suppressed by the transcription factor zinc-finger-enhancer binding protein 1 (ZEB1) which in turn is a direct target for repression by GRHL2, suggesting that the EMT transcription factors GRHL2 and ZEB1 form a double negative regulatory feedback loop in breast cancer cells. Finally, a comprehensive immunohistochemical analysis of GRHL2 expression in primary breast cancers showed loss of GRHL2 expression at the invasive front of primary tumors. A pathophysiological relevance of GRHL2 in breast cancer metastasis is further demonstrated by our finding of a statistically significant association between loss of GRHL2 expression in primary breast cancers and lymph-node metastasis. We thus demonstrate a crucial role of GRHL2 in breast carcinogenesis. To evaluate the role of the GRHL2 transcription factor in carcinogenessis we overexpressed the human GRHL2 protein in NIH3T3 cells. Parental NIH3T3 cells do not express the orthologic protein. Alterations in genome-wide transcriptional profiles were determined by microarray analysis.
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: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:Our previous study has demonstrated that knockdown of Grainyhead-like 2(GRHL2) in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells inhibited cell proliferation by targeting ZEB1. This study aimed at researching whether knockdown of GRHL2 promoted CRC progression and metastasis via inducing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). GRHL2-upregulated SW-620/GRHL2+ and GRHL2-knockdown HCT116/GRHL2-KD, HT29/GRHL2-KD cells and their control cells were generated. The morphological changes after overexpression and knockdown GRHL2 were observed. qRT-PCR, Western blotting, and Immunofluorescence were used to detect EMT markers: E-cadherin, Vimentin, p-catein, ZO-1 and ZEB1 expression. Then, sh-ZEB1 was transfected to GRHL2 knockdown cells to research the relationship between GRHL2 and ZEB1. Transwell and wound healing assays were further performed to detect the impact of GRHL2 on invasion and migration in vitro. CRC cells were injected into mice tail vein to verify the impact of GRHL2 on CRC metastasis. Morphological change of mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) could be observed in SW620/GRHL2+ cell. The expression of epithelial markers: E-cadherin, ?-catenin, ZO-1 were up-regulated, while mesenchymal markers: Vimentin was decreased. Meanwhile, opposite EMT morphological change could be observed in HCT116/GRHL2-KD cell, accompanied by reverse change of E-cadherin, ?-catenin, ZO-1, and Vimentin. The expression level of GRHL2 and ZEB1 was found negative in both SW620/GRHL2+ and HCT116/GRHL2-KD cells. Knockdown of ZEB1 by siRNA in HCT116/GRHL2-KD and HT29/GRHL2-KD could upregulate expression of E-cadherin and GRHL2. GRHL2 knockdown also promoted migration, invasion in vitro and CRC metastasis in mice model. In conclusion, GRHL2/ZEB1 axis inhibits CRC progression and metastasis via oppressing EMT.
Project description:The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) contribute to cancer metastasis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We explored the role of grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2), a suppressor of EMT, in the progression of PDAC. Expressions of GRHL2 were assessed using surgically resected PDAC tissues by immunohistochemistry analysis, and in vitro using human and mouse PDAC cells. Effects on epithelial plasticity and stemness of GRHL2 were examined in vitro using liver metastatic PDAC cells (CFPAC-1) with GRHL2 knockdown by specific siRNAs. GRHL2 has a significantly positive correlation with E-cadherin and CD133 in 155 resected human primary PDAC tissues. GRHL2 is highly expressed in liver metastatic cells than in primary invasive cells of both human and mouse PDAC, accompanied by a positive correlation with E-cadherin expression. GRHL2 knockdown CFPAC-1 cells demonstrated morphological changes into mesenchymal appearances and reduced proliferation through EMT. Notably, knockdown studies followed by flow cytometry analysis for a subpopulation of CD133+ showed that GRHL2 facilitates CFPAC-1 cells to maintain stem-like characters including self-renewal capacity and anoikis resistance. GRHL2 regulates epithelial plasticity along with stemness in PDAC, both of which are crucial for metastasis, implicating the possibility of GRHL2 as a therapeutic target for PDAC liver metastasis.
Project description:Cleft lip and palate are common birth defects resulting from failure of the facial processes to fuse during development. The mammalian grainyhead-like (Grhl1-3) genes play key roles in a number of tissue fusion processes including neurulation, epidermal wound healing and eyelid fusion. One family member, Grhl2, is expressed in the epithelial lining of the first pharyngeal arch in mice at embryonic day (E)10.5, prompting analysis of the role of this factor in palatogenesis. Grhl2-null mice die at E11.5 with neural tube defects and a cleft face phenotype, precluding analysis of palatal fusion at a later stage of development. However, in the first pharyngeal arch of Grhl2-null embryos, dysregulation of transcription factors that drive epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurs. The aberrant expression of these genes is associated with a shift in RNA-splicing patterns that favours the generation of mesenchymal isoforms of numerous regulators. Driving the EMT perturbation is loss of expression of the EMT-suppressing transcription factors Ovol1 and Ovol2, which are direct GRHL2 targets. The expression of the miR-200 family of microRNAs, also GRHL2 targets, is similarly reduced, resulting in a 56-fold upregulation of Zeb1 expression, a major driver of mesenchymal cellular identity. The critical role of GRHL2 in mediating cleft palate in Zeb1-/- mice is evident, with rescue of both palatal and facial fusion seen in Grhl2-/-;Zeb1-/- embryos. These findings highlight the delicate balance between GRHL2/ZEB1 and epithelial/mesenchymal cellular identity that is essential for normal closure of the palate and face. Perturbation of this pathway may underlie cleft palate in some patients.
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:Phenotypic plasticity involves a process in which cells transiently acquire phenotypic traits of another lineage. Two commonly studied types of phenotypic plasticity are epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET). In carcinomas, EMT drives invasion and metastatic dissemination, while MET is proposed to play a role in metastatic colonization. Phenotypic plasticity in sarcomas is not well studied; however, there is evidence that a subset of sarcomas undergo an MET-like phenomenon. While the exact mechanisms by which these transitions occur remain largely unknown, it is likely that some of the same master regulators that drive EMT and MET in carcinomas also act in sarcomas. In this study, we combined mathematical models with bench experiments to identify a core regulatory circuit that controls MET in sarcomas. This circuit comprises the microRNA 200 (miR-200) family, ZEB1, and GRHL2. Interestingly, combined expression of miR-200s and GRHL2 further upregulates epithelial genes to induce MET. This effect is phenocopied by downregulation of either ZEB1 or the ZEB1 cofactor, BRG1. In addition, an MET gene expression signature is prognostic for improved overall survival in sarcoma patients. Together, our results suggest that a miR-200, ZEB1, GRHL2 gene regulatory network may drive sarcoma cells to a more epithelial-like state and that this likely has prognostic relevance.
Project description:Until now the essential transcription factor that determines the epithelial phenotype of breast cancer has not been identified and its role in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor progression remain unclear. Here, by analyzing large expression profiles of human breast cancer cells, we found an extraordinary correlation between the expression of Grainyhead transcription factor Grhl2 and epithelial marker E-cadherin. Knockdown of Grhl2 expression by shRNA in human mammary epithelial cell MCF10A leads to down-regulation of E-cadherin and EMT. Grhl2 is down-regulated in disseminated cancer cells that have undergone EMT, and over-expression of Grhl2 is sufficient to induce epithelial gene expression. Large clinical datasets reveal that expression of Grhl2 is significantly associated with poor relapse free survival and increased risk of metastasis in breast cancer patients. In mouse models, over-expression of Grhl2 significantly promotes tumor growth and metastasis. Further testing of several Grhl2 regulated genes leads to the same conclusions that the tumorigenic and metastatic potentials of tumor cells are linked to epithelial phenotype but not mesenchymal phenotype. In conclusion, our findings indicate that Grhl2 plays an essential role in the determination of epithelial phenotype of breast cancers, EMT and tumor progression.
Project description:Over two decades of research on cancer-associated epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) led us to ascertain the occurrence of transitional intermediate states (collectively referred to as the EMT spectrum). Among the molecular factors that drive EMT, SNAI1 plays an indispensable role in regulating other core transcription factors, and this regulation is highly context-dependent. However, molecular investigation on this context-dependent regulation is still lacking. Using two ovarian cancer cell lines, we show that SNAI1 regulation on other core EMT-TFs switches from a repressive control in highly epithelial cells to an activation signaling in intermediate epithelial cells. Upon further scrutiny, we identify that the expression of early epithelial genes <i>PERP</i> and <i>ERBB3</i> are differentially regulated in SNAI1-induced sequential EMT changes. Mechanistically, we show that changes in <i>PERP</i> and <i>ERBB3</i> transcript levels could be correlated to the selective enrichment loss of RAD21, a cohesin component, at the distal enhancer sites of <i>PERP</i> and <i>ERBB3</i>, which precedes that of the proximal promoter-associated sites. Furthermore, the RAD21 enrichment at the distal enhancer sites is dependent on GRHL2 expression. In a nutshell, the alteration of GRHL2-associated RAD21 enrichment in epithelial genes is crucial to redefine the transition of cellular states along the EMT spectrum.