Epithelial-mesenchymal transition and tumor suppression are controlled by a reciprocal feedback loop between ZEB1 and Grainyhead-like-2.
ABSTRACT: 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 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: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: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 (EMTs) occurring in wound healing processes and the cancer stem cell-like compartment of tumors, including TGF-β-dependence, we investigated the role of a Grainyhead gene (GRHL2) in oncogenic EMT. Grainyhead was specifically down-regulated in the claudin-low subclass of mammary tumors and in the basal-B subclass of breast cancer cell lines. Functionally, GRHL2 suppressed TGF-β-induced, Twist-induced or spontaneous EMT, enhanced anoikis-sensitivity, and suppressed mammosphere generation in mammary epithelial cells. These effects were mediated, in part, by its suppression of ZEB1 expression, through direct repression of the ZEB1 promoter. GRHL2 also inhibited Smad-mediated transcription, and up-regulated mir200b/c as well as the TGF-β receptor antagonist, BMP2. The expression of GRHL2 in the breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 triggered a mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition and sensitized the cells to anoikis. These results indicate that GRHL2 is a suppressor of the oncogenic EMT. 3 biologic replicates for each cell line. Comparison of HMLE+Twist-ER cells expressing GRHL2/pMIG vs. HMLE+Twist-ER cells expressing empty pMIG.
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:Developmental morphogenesis and tumor progression require a transient or stable breakdown of epithelial junctional complexes to permit programmed migration, invasion, and anoikis resistance, characteristics endowed by the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The epithelial master-regulatory transcription factor Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) suppresses and reverses EMT, causing a mesenchymal-epithelial transition to the default epithelial phenotype. Here we investigated the role of GRHL2 in tubulogenesis of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, a process requiring transient, partial EMT. GRHL2 was required for cystogenesis, but it suppressed tubulogenesis in response to hepatocyte growth factor. Surprisingly, GRHL2 suppressed this process by inhibiting the histone acetyltransferase coactivator p300, preventing the induction of matrix metalloproteases and other p300-dependent genes required for tubulogenesis. A 13-amino acid region of GRHL2 was necessary for inhibition of p300, suppression of tubulogenesis, and interference with EMT. The results demonstrate that p300 is required for partial or complete EMT occurring in tubulogenesis or tumor progression and that GRHL2 suppresses EMT in both contexts through inhibition of p300.
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-Like 2 (GRHL2) is an epithelial-specific transcription factor that regulates epithelial morphogenesis and differentiation. Prior studies suggested inverse regulation between GRHL2 and TGF-? in epithelial plasticity and potential carcinogenesis. Here, we report the role of GRHL2 in oral carcinogenesis in vivo using a novel Grhl2 knockout (KO) mouse model and the underlying mechanism involving its functional interaction with TGF-? signaling. We developed epithelial-specific Grhl2 conditional KO mice by crossing Grhl2 floxed mice with those expressing CreER driven by the K14 promoter. After induction of Grhl2 KO, we confirmed the loss of GRHL2 and its target proteins, while Grhl2 KO strongly induced TGF-? signaling molecules. When exposed to 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide (4-NQO), a strong chemical carcinogen, Grhl2 wild-type (WT) mice developed rampant oral tongue tumors, while Grhl2 KO mice completely abolished tumor development. In cultured oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell lines, TGF-? signaling was notably induced by GRHL2 knockdown while being suppressed by GRHL2 overexpression. GRHL2 knockdown or KO in vitro and in vivo, respectively, led to loss of active p-Erk1/2 and p-JNK MAP kinase levels; moreover, ectopic overexpression of GRHL2 strongly induced the MAP kinase activation. Furthermore, the suppressive effect of GRHL2 on TGF-? signaling was diminished in cells exposed to Erk and JNK inhibitors. These data indicate that GRHL2 activates the Erk and JNK MAP kinases, which in turn suppresses the TGF -? signaling. This novel signaling represents an alternative pathway by which GRHL2 regulates carcinogenesis, and is distinct from the direct transcriptional regulation by GRHL2 binding at its target gene promoters, e.g., E-cadherin, hTERT, p63, and miR-200 family genes. Taken together, the current study provides the first genetic evidence to support the role of GRHL2 in carcinogenesis and the underlying novel mechanism that involves the functional interaction between GRHL2 and TGF-? signaling through the MAPK pathways.
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: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: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.