DNA demethylation induces SALL4 gene re-expression in subgroups of hepatocellular carcinoma associated with Hepatitis B or C virus infection.
ABSTRACT: Sal-like protein 4 (SALL4), an embryonic stem cell transcriptional regulator, is re-expressed by an unknown mechanism in poor prognosis hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), often associated with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Herein, we investigated the mechanism of SALL4 re-expression in HBV-related HCCs. We performed bisulfite sequencing PCR of genomic DNA isolated from HBV-related HCCs and HBV replicating cells, and examined DNA methylation of a CpG island located downstream from SALL4 transcriptional start site (TSS). HBV-related HCCs expressing increased SALL4 exhibited demethylation of specific CpG sites downstream of SALL4 TSS. Similarly, SALL4 re-expression and demethylation of these CpGs was observed in HBV replicating cells. SALL4 is also re-expressed in poor prognosis HCCs of other etiologies. Indeed, increased SALL4 expression in hepatitis C virus-related HCCs correlated with demethylation of these CpG sites. To understand how CpG demethylation downstream of SALL4 TSS regulates SALL4 transcription, we quantified by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays RNA polymerase II occupancy of SALL4 gene, as a function of HBV replication. In absence of HBV replication, RNA polymerase II associated with SALL4 exon1. By contrast, in HBV replicating cells RNA polymerase II occupancy of all SALL4 exons increased, suggesting CpG demethylation downstream from SALL4 TSS influences SALL4 transcriptional elongation. Intriguingly, demethylated CpGs downstream from SALL4 TSS are within binding sites of octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (OCT4) and signal transducer and activator of transcription3 (STAT3). ChIP assays confirmed occupancy of these sites by OCT4 and STAT3 in HBV replicating cells, and sequential ChIP assays demonstrated co-occupancy with chromatin remodeling BRG1/Brahma-associated factors. BRG1 knockdown reduced SALL4 expression, whereas BRG1 overexpression increased SALL4 transcription in HBV replicating cells. We conclude demethylation of CpGs located within OCT4 and STAT3 cis-acting elements, downstream of SALL4 TSS, enables OCT4 and STAT3 binding, recruitment of BRG1, and enhanced RNA polymerase II elongation and SALL4 transcription.
Project description:Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major risk factor for developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and HBV X protein (HBx) acts as cofactor in hepatocarcinogenesis. In liver tumors from animals modeling HBx- and HBV-mediated hepatocarcinogenesis, downregulation of chromatin regulating proteins SUZ12 and ZNF198 induces expression of several genes, including epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). EpCAM upregulation occurs in HBV-mediated HCCs and hepatic cancer stem cells, by a mechanism not understood. Herein we demonstrate HBx induces EpCAM expression via active DNA demethylation. In hepatocytes, EpCAM is silenced by polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and ZNF198/LSD1/Co-REST/HDAC1 chromatin-modifying complexes. Cells with stable knockdown of SUZ12, an essential PRC2 subunit, upon HBx expression demethylate a CpG dinucleotide located adjacent to NF-?B/RelA half-site. This NF-?B/RelA site is in a CpG island downstream from EpCAM transcriptional start site (TSS). Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays demonstrate HBx-dependent RelA occupancy of NF-?B half-site, whereas RelA knockdown suppresses CpG demethylation and EpCAM expression. Tumor necrosis factor-? activates RelA, propagating demethylation to nearby CpG sites, shown by sodium bisulfite sequencing. RelA-dependent demethylation occurring upon HBx expression requires methyltrasferase EZH2, TET2 a key factor in cytosine demethylation and inactive DNMT3L, shown by knockdown assays and sodium bisulfite sequencing. Co-immunoprecipitations and sequential ChIP assays demonstrate that RelA in the presence of HBx forms a complex with EZH2, TET2 and DNMT3L, although the role of DNMT3L remains to be understood. Interestingly, the human EpCAM gene also has a CpG island downstream from its TSS, and a NF-?B-binding site flanked by CpGs. HepG2 cells derived from human HCC exhibit demethylation of these NF-?B-flanking CpG sites, and HBV replication propagates demethylation to nearby CpG sites. DLK1, another PRC2 target gene, also upregulated in HBV-mediated HCCs, is demethylated in liver tumors at CpG dinucleotides flanking the NF-?B-binding sequence, supporting that this active DNA demethylation mechanism functions during oncogenic transformation.
Project description:Hepatocytes in which the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is replicating exhibit loss of the chromatin modifying polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), resulting in re-expression of specific, cellular PRC2-repressed genes. Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) is a PRC2-repressed gene, normally expressed in hepatic progenitors, but re-expressed in hepatic cancer stem cells (hCSCs). Herein, we investigated the functional significance of EpCAM re-expression in HBV-mediated hepatocarcinogenesis.Employing molecular approaches (transfections, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, immunoblotting, qRT-PCR), we investigated the role of EpCAM-regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP) in HBV replicating cells in vitro, and in liver tumors from HBV X/c-myc mice and chronically HBV infected patients.EpCAM undergoes RIP in HBV replicating cells, activating canonical Wnt signaling. Transfection of Wnt-responsive plasmid expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) identified a GFP + population of HBV replicating cells. These GFP+/Wnt+ cells exhibited cisplatin- and sorafenib-resistant growth resembling hCSCs, and increased expression of pluripotency genes NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, and hCSC markers BAMBI, CD44 and CD133. These genes are referred as EpCAM RIP and Wnt-induced hCSC-like gene signature. Interestingly, this gene signature is also overexpressed in liver tumors of X/c-myc bitransgenic mice. Clinically, a group of HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinomas was identified, exhibiting elevated expression of the hCSC-like gene signature and associated with reduced overall survival post-surgical resection.The hCSC-like gene signature offers promise as prognostic tool for classifying subtypes of HBV-induced HCCs. Since EpCAM RIP and Wnt signaling drive expression of this hCSC-like signature, inhibition of these pathways can be explored as therapeutic strategy for this subtype of HBV-associated HCCs.In this study, we provide evidence for a molecular mechanism by which chronic infection by the hepatitis B virus results in the development of poor prognosis liver cancer. Based on this mechanism our results suggest possible therapeutic interventions.
Project description:During blastocyst formation the segregation of the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm is governed by the mutually antagonistic effects of the transcription factors Oct4 and Cdx2. Evidence indicates that suppression of Oct4 expression in the trophectoderm is mediated by Cdx2. Nonetheless, the underlying epigenetic modifiers required for Cdx2-dependent repression of Oct4 are largely unknown. Here we show that the chromatin remodeling protein Brg1 is required for Cdx2-mediated repression of Oct4 expression in mouse blastocysts. By employing a combination of RNA interference (RNAi) and gene expression analysis we found that both Brg1 Knockdown (KD) and Cdx2 KD blastocysts exhibit widespread expression of Oct4 in the trophectoderm. Interestingly, in Brg1 KD blastocysts and Cdx2 KD blastocysts, the expression of Cdx2 and Brg1 is unchanged, respectively. To address whether Brg1 cooperates with Cdx2 to repress Oct4 transcription in the developing trophectoderm, we utilized preimplantation embryos, trophoblast stem (TS) cells and Cdx2-inducible embryonic stem (ES) cells as model systems. We found that: (1) combined knockdown (KD) of Brg1 and Cdx2 levels in blastocysts resulted in increased levels of Oct4 transcripts compared to KD of Brg1 or Cdx2 alone, (2) endogenous Brg1 co-immunoprecipitated with Cdx2 in TS cell extracts, (3) in blastocysts Brg1 and Cdx2 co-localize in trophectoderm nuclei and (4) in Cdx2-induced ES cells Brg1 and Cdx2 are recruited to the Oct4 promoter. Lastly, to determine how Brg1 may induce epigenetic silencing of the Oct4 gene, we evaluated CpG methylation at the Oct4 promoter in the trophectoderm of Brg1 KD blastocysts. This analysis revealed that Brg1-dependent repression of Oct4 expression is independent of DNA methylation at the blastocyst stage. In toto, these results demonstrate that Brg1 cooperates with Cdx2 to repress Oct4 expression in the developing trophectoderm to ensure normal development.
Project description:Treatment for high-risk pediatric and adult acute B cell lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) remains challenging. Exploring novel pathways in B-ALL could lead to new therapy. Our previous study has shown that stem cell factor SALL4 is aberrantly expressed in B-ALL, but its functional roles and the mechanism that accounts for its upregulation in B-ALL remain unexplored. To address this question, we first surveyed the existing B-ALL cell lines and primary patient samples for SALL4 expression. We then selected the B-ALL cell lines with the highest SALL4 expression for functional studies. RNA interference was used to downregulate SALL4 expression in these cell lines. When compared with control cells, SALL4 knockdown cells exhibited decreased cell proliferation, increased apoptosis in vitro, and decreased engraftment in a xenotransplant model in vivo. Gene expression analysis showed that in SALL4 knockdown B-ALL cells, multiple caspase members involved in cell apoptosis pathway were upregulated. Next, we explored the mechanisms of aberrant SALL4 expression in B-ALL. We found that hypomethylation of the SALL4 CpG islands was correlated with its high expression. Furthermore, treatment of low SALL4-expressing B-ALL cell lines with DNA methylation inhibitor led to demethylation of the SALL4 CpG and increased SALL4 expression. In summary, to our knowledge, we are the first to show that the aberrant expression of SALL4 in B-ALL is associated with hypomethylation, and that SALL4 plays a key role in B-ALL cell survival and could be a potential novel target in B-ALL treatment.
Project description:AIM:To identify and characterize cancer stem cells (CSC) in moderately differentiated buccal mucosa squamous cell carcinoma (MDBMSCC). METHODS:Four micrometer-thick, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded MDBMSCC samples from six patients underwent 3,3-diaminobenzidine (DAB) immunohistochemical (IHC) staining for the embryonic stem cell (ESC) markers, NANOG, OCT4, SALL4, SOX2, and pSTAT3; cancer stem cell marker, CD44; squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) marker, EMA; and endothelial marker, CD34. The transcriptional activities of the genes encoding NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, SALL4, STAT3, and CD44 were studied using NanoString gene expression analysis and colorimetric in situ hybridization (CISH) for NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, SALL4, and STAT3. RESULTS:Diaminobenzidine and immunofluorescent (IF) IHC staining demonstrated the presence of (1) an EMA(+)/CD44(+)/SOX2(+)/SALL4(+)/OCT4(+)/pSTAT3(+)/NANOG(+) CSC subpopulation within the tumor nests; (2) an EMA(-)/CD44(-)/CD34(-)/SOX2(+)/OCT4(+)/pSTAT3(+)/NANOG(+) subpopulation within the stroma between the tumor nests; and (3) an EMA(-)/CD44(-)/CD34(+)/SOX2(+)/SALL4(+)/OCT4(+)/pSTAT3(+)/NANOG(+) subpopulation on the endothelium of the microvessels within the stroma. The expression of CD44, SOX2, SALL4, OCT4, pSTAT3, and NANOG was confirmed by the presence of mRNA transcripts, using NanoString analysis and NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, SALL4, and STAT3 by CISH staining. CONCLUSION:This study demonstrated a novel finding of three separate CSC subpopulations within MDBMSCC: (1) within the tumor nests expressing EMA, CD44, SOX2, SALL4, OCT4, pSTAT3, and NANOG; (2) within the stroma expressing SOX2, SALL4, OCT4, pSTAT3, and NANOG; and (3) on the endothelium of the microvessels within the stroma expressing CD34, SOX2, SALL4, OCT4, pSTAT3, and NANOG.
Project description:SALL4 is a member of the SALL gene family that encodes a group of putative developmental transcription factors. Murine Sall4 plays a critical role in maintaining embryonic stem cell (ES cell) pluripotency and self-renewal. We have shown that Sall4 activates Oct4 and is a master regulator in murine ES cells. Other SALL gene members, especially Sall1 and Sall3 are expressed in both murine and human ES cells, and deletions of these two genes in mice lead to perinatal death due to developmental defects. To date, little is known about the molecular mechanisms controlling the regulation of expressions of SALL4 or other SALL gene family members.This report describes a novel SALL4/OCT4 regulator feedback loop in ES cells in balancing the proper expression dosage of SALL4 and OCT4 for the maintenance of ESC stem cell properties. While we have observed that a positive feedback relationship is present between SALL4 and OCT4, the strong self-repression of SALL4 seems to be the "break" for this loop. In addition, we have shown that SALL4 can repress the promoters of other SALL family members, such as SALL1 and SALL3, which competes with the activation of these two genes by OCT4.Our findings, when taken together, indicate that SALL4 is a master regulator that controls its own expression and the expression of OCT4. SALL4 and OCT4 work antagonistically to balance the expressions of other SALL gene family members. This novel SALL4/OCT4 transcription regulation feedback loop should provide more insight into the mechanism of governing the "stemness" of ES cells.
Project description:Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by defined sets of transcription factors. We previously described reprogramming of monolayer-cultured adult mouse ciliary body epithelial (CE) cells by Oct4 and Klf4, but not with Oct4 alone. In this study, we report that Oct4 alone is sufficient to reprogram CE cells to iPS cells through sphere formation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that sphere formation induces a partial reprogramming state characterized by expression of retinal progenitor markers, upregulation of reprogramming transcription factors, such as Sall4 and Nanog, demethylation in the promoter regions of pluripotency associated genes, and mesenchymal to epithelial transition. The Oct4-iPS cells maintained normal karyotypes, expressed markers for pluripotent stem cells, and were capable of differentiating into derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers in vivo and in vitro. These findings suggest that sphere formation may render somatic cells more susceptible to reprogramming.
Project description:AIM:To identify and characterize cancer stem cells (CSC) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). METHODS:Four-micrometer thick formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded GBM samples from six patients underwent 3,3-diaminobenzidine (DAB) and immunofluorescent (IF) immunohistochemical (IHC) staining for the embryonic stem cell (ESC) markers NANOG, OCT4, SALL4, SOX2, and pSTAT3. IF IHC staining was performed to demonstrate co-expression of these markers with GFAP. The protein expression and the transcriptional activities of the genes encoding NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, SALL4, and STAT3 were investigated using Western blotting (WB) and NanoString gene expression analysis, respectively. RESULTS:DAB and IF IHC staining demonstrated the presence of a CSC population expressing NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, SALL4, and pSTAT3 with the almost ubiquitous presence of SOX2 and a relatively low abundance of OCT4, within GBM. The expression of NANOG, SOX2 and, pSTAT3 but, not OCT and SALL4, was confirmed by WB. NanoString gene analysis demonstrated transcriptional activation of NANOG, OCT4, SALL4, STAT3, and SOX2 in GBM. CONCLUSION:This study demonstrated a population of CSCs within GBM characterized by the expression of the CSC markers NANOG, SALL4, SOX2, pSTAT3 and OCT4 at the protein and mRNA levels. The almost ubiquitous presence of SOX2 and a relatively low abundance of OCT4 would support the putative existence of a stem cell hierarchy within GBM.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Liver cancers, including hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), cholangiocarcinomas (CCs), and fibrolamellar HCCs (FL-HCCs) are among the most common cancers worldwide and are associated with a poor prognosis. Investigations of genes important in liver cancers have focused on Sal-like protein 4 (SALL4), a member of a family of zinc finger transcription factors. It is a regulator of embryogenesis, organogenesis, pluripotency, can elicit reprogramming of somatic cells, and is a marker of stem cells. We found it expressed in normal murine hepatoblasts, normal human hepatic stem cells, hepatoblasts and biliary tree stem cells, but not in mature parenchymal cells of liver or biliary tree. It was strongly expressed in surgical specimens of human HCCs, CCs, a combined hepatocellular and cholangiocarcinoma, a FL-HCC, and in derivative, transplantable tumor lines in immune-compromised hosts. Bioinformatics analyses indicated that elevated expression of SALL4 in tumors is associated with poor survival of HCC patients. Experimental manipulation of SALL4's expression results in changes in proliferation versus differentiation in human HCC cell lines in vitro and in vivo in immune-compromised hosts. Virus-mediated gene transfer of SALL4 was used for gain- and loss-of-function analyses in the cell lines. Significant growth inhibition in vitro and in vivo, accompanied by an increase in differentiation occurred with down-regulation of SALL4. Overexpression of SALL4 resulted in increased cell proliferation in vitro, correlating with an increase in expression of cytokeratin19 (CK19), epithelial cell adhesion molecules (EpCAM), and adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding cassette-G2 (ABCG2). CONCLUSION:SALL4's expression is an indicator of stem cells, a prognostic marker in liver cancers, correlates with cell and tumor growth, with resistance to 5-FU, and its suppression results in differentiation and slowed tumor growth. SALL4 is a novel therapeutic target for liver cancers.
Project description:Sirtuin 2 (Sirt2), a NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase, is overexpressed in many hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and can deacetylate many proteins, including tubulins and AKT, prior to AKT activation. Here, we found that endogenous Sirt2 was upregulated in wild-type hepatitis B virus (HBV WT)-replicating cells, leading to tubulin deacetylation; however, this was not the case in HBV replication-deficient-mutant-transfected cells and 1.3-mer HBV WT-transfected and reverse transcriptase inhibitor (entecavir or lamivudine)-treated cells, but all HBV proteins were expressed. In HBV WT-replicating cells, upregulation of Sirt2 induced AKT activation, which consequently downregulated glycogen synthase kinase 3? (GSK-3?) and increased ?-catenin levels; however, downregulation of Sirt2 in HBV-nonreplicating cells impaired AKT/GSK-3?/?-catenin signaling. Overexpression of Sirt2 isoform 1 stimulated HBV transcription and consequently HBV DNA synthesis, which in turn activated AKT and consequently increased ?-catenin levels, possibly through physical interactions with Sirt2 and AKT. Knockdown of Sirt2 by short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs), inhibition by 2-cyano-3-[5-(2,5-dichlorophenyl)-2-furanyl]-N-5-quinolinyl-2-propenamide (AGK2), or dominant negative mutant expression inhibited HBV replication, reduced AKT activation, and decreased ?-catenin levels. Through HBV infection, we demonstrated that Sirt2 knockdown inhibited HBV replication from transcription. Although HBx itself activates AKT and upregulates ?-catenin, Sirt2-mediated signaling and upregulated HBV replication were HBx independent. Since constitutively active AKT inhibits HBV replication, the results suggest that upregulated Sirt2 and activated AKT may balance HBV replication to prolong viral replication, eventually leading to the development of HCC. Also, the results indicate that Sirt2 inhibition may be a new therapeutic option for controlling HBV infection and preventing HCC.IMPORTANCE Even though Sirt2, a NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase, is overexpressed in many HCCs, and overexpressed Sirt2 promotes hepatic fibrosis and associates positively with vascular invasion by primary HCCs through AKT/GSK-3?/?-catenin signaling, the relationship between Sirt2, HBV, HBx, and/or HBV-associated hepatocarcinogenesis is unclear. Here, we show that HBV DNA replication, not HBV expression, correlates positively with Sirt2 upregulation and AKT activation. We demonstrate that overexpression of Sirt2 further increases HBV replication, increases AKT activation, downregulates GSK-3?, and increases ?-catenin levels. Conversely, inhibiting Sirt2 decreases HBV replication, reduces AKT activation, and decreases ?-catenin levels. Although HBx activates AKT to upregulate ?-catenin, Sirt2-mediated effects were not dependent on HBx. The results also indicate that a Sirt2 inhibitor may control HBV infection and prevent the development of hepatic fibrosis and HCC.