A Grainyhead-Like 2/Ovo-Like 2 Pathway Regulates Renal Epithelial Barrier Function and Lumen Expansion.
ABSTRACT: 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:During development, epithelial progenitors establish intercellular junctions, including tight junctions (TJs), and form three-dimensional (3D) tissue structures, which are often associated with luminal structures. Here we identify grainyhead-like 2 (Grhl2) as a transcription factor that regulates the size of luminal space surrounded by polarized epithelial cells. We show that HPPL, a liver progenitor cell line, transfected with Grhl2 cDNA forms remarkably larger cysts than the control cells in 3D cultures. We find that Grhl2 up-regulates claudin (Cldn) 3 and Cldn4, and their functions are necessary for the formation of large cysts. Overexpression of Cldn3 alone induces the cyst expansion. In contrast, expression of Cldn4 alone does not induce expansion, as it is not localized at TJs. Of interest, Rab25, another Grhl2 target, not only increases the Cldn4 protein, but also enhances its localization at TJs. Taken together, the results indicate that Grhl2 regulates epithelial morphogenesis through transcriptional up-regulation of Cldn3 and Cldn4, as well as of Rab25, which increases the Cldn4 protein and its localization at TJs. The results reveal a molecular network regulating epithelial lumen formation organized by Grhl2.
Project description:Collecting ducts make up the distal-most tubular segments of the kidney, extending from the cortex, where they connect to the nephron proper, into the medulla, where they release urine into the renal pelvis. During water deprivation, body water preservation is ensured by the selective transepithelial reabsorption of water into the hypertonic medullary interstitium mediated by collecting ducts. The collecting duct epithelium forms tight junctions composed of barrier-enforcing claudins and exhibits a higher transepithelial resistance than other segments of the renal tubule exhibit. However, the functional relevance of this strong collecting duct epithelial barrier is unresolved. Here, we report that collecting duct-specific deletion of an epithelial transcription factor, grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2), in mice led to reduced expression of tight junction-associated barrier components, reduced collecting duct transepithelial resistance, and defective renal medullary accumulation of sodium and other osmolytes. In vitro, Grhl2-deficient collecting duct cells displayed increased paracellular flux of sodium, chloride, and urea. Consistent with these effects, Grhl2-deficient mice had diabetes insipidus, produced dilute urine, and failed to adequately concentrate their urine after water restriction, resulting in susceptibility to prerenal azotemia. These data indicate a direct functional link between collecting duct epithelial barrier characteristics, which appear to prevent leakage of interstitial osmolytes into urine, and body water homeostasis.
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: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: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:We recently identified Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2), a mammalian homolog of Grainyhead in Drosophila, to be a novel transcription factor that regulates hTERT gene expression and enhances proliferation of normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK). In the current study, we show that GRHL2 impairs keratinocyte differentiation through transcriptional inhibition of the genes clustered at the epidermal differentiation complex (EDC), located at chromosome 1q21. Gene expression profiling and subsequent in vitro assays revealed consistent downregulation of EDC genes, for example, IVL, KRT1, FLG, LCEs, and SPRRs, in NHEK expressing exogenous GRHL2. In vivo binding assay by chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed GRHL2 association at the promoter regions of its target genes, many of which belong to EDC. Exogenous GRHL2 expression also inhibited recruitment of histone demethylase Jmjd3 to the EDC gene promoters and enhanced the level of histone 3 Lys 27 trimethylation enrichment at these promoters. Survey of GRHL2 expression in human skin tissues demonstrated enhanced protein and mRNA levels in chronic skin lesions with impaired keratinocyte differentiation, for example, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, compared with normal epidermis. These data indicate that GRHL2 impairs epidermal differentiation by inhibiting EDC gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms and support its role in the hyperproliferative skin diseases.
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: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:Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) affect about 1 in 500 births and are a major cause of morbidity in infants. Duplex collecting systems rank among the most common abnormalities of CAKUT, but the molecular basis for this defect is poorly understood. In mice, conditional deletion of Wnt5a in mesoderm results in bilateral duplex kidney and ureter formation. The ureteric buds (UBs) in mutants emerge as doublets from the intermediate mesoderm (IM)-derived nephric duct (ND) without anterior expansion of the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (Gdnf) expression domain in the surrounding mesenchyme. Wnt5a is normally expressed in a graded manner at the posterior end of the IM, but its expression is down-regulated prior to UB outgrowth at E10.5. Furthermore, ablation of Wnt5a in the mesoderm with an inducible Cre at E7.5 results in duplex UBs, whereas ablation at E8.5 yields normal UB outgrowth, demonstrating that Wnt5a functions in IM development well before the formation of the metanephros. In mutants, the posterior ND is duplicated and surrounding Pax2-positive mesenchymal cells persist in the nephric cord, suggesting that disruption of normal ND patterning prompts the formation of duplex ureters and kidneys. Ror2 homozygous mutants, which infrequently yield duplex collecting systems, show a dramatic increase in incidence with the additional deletion of one copy of Wnt5a, implicating this receptor in non-canonical Wnt5a signaling during IM development. This work provides the first evidence of a role of Wnt5a/Ror2 signaling in IM extension and offers new insights into the etiology of CAKUT and possible involvement of Wnt5a/Ror2 mutations.
Project description:In a large family of Czech origin, we mapped a locus for an autosomal-dominant corneal endothelial dystrophy, posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy 4 (PPCD4), to 8q22.3-q24.12. Whole-genome sequencing identified a unique variant (c.20+544G>T) in this locus, within an intronic regulatory region of GRHL2. Targeted sequencing identified the same variant in three additional previously unsolved PPCD-affected families, including a de novo occurrence that suggests this is a recurrent mutation. Two further unique variants were identified in intron 1 of GRHL2 (c.20+257delT and c.20+133delA) in unrelated PPCD-affected families. GRHL2 is a transcription factor that suppresses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and is a direct transcriptional repressor of ZEB1. ZEB1 mutations leading to haploinsufficiency cause PPCD3. We previously identified promoter mutations in OVOL2, a gene not normally expressed in the corneal endothelium, as the cause of PPCD1. OVOL2 drives mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) by directly inhibiting EMT-inducing transcription factors, such as ZEB1. Here, we demonstrate that the GRHL2 regulatory variants identified in PPCD4-affected individuals induce increased transcriptional activity in vitro. Furthermore, although GRHL2 is not expressed in corneal endothelial cells in control tissue, we detected GRHL2 in the corneal "endothelium" in PPCD4 tissue. These cells were also positive for epithelial markers E-Cadherin and Cytokeratin 7, indicating they have transitioned to an epithelial-like cell type. We suggest that mutations inducing MET within the corneal endothelium are a convergent pathogenic mechanism leading to dysfunction of the endothelial barrier and disease.