Grainyhead-like 2 regulates epithelial plasticity and stemness in oral cancer cells.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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: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:The transcription factor grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) is evolutionarily conserved in many different species, and is involved in morphogenesis, epithelial differentiation, and the control of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. It has also recently been implicated in carcinogenesis, but its role in this remains controversial. Expression of GRHL2 has not previously been reported in cervical cancer, so the present study aimed to characterize GRHL2 expression in cervical cancer-derived cell lines (CCCLs) and cervical tissues with different grades of lesions. Microarray analysis found that the expression of 58 genes was down-regulated in CCCLs compared to HaCaT cells (non-tumorigenic human epithelial cell line). The expression of eight of these genes was validated by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), and GRHL2 was found to be the most down-regulated. Western blot assays corroborated that GRHL2 protein levels were strongly down-regulated in CCCLs. Cervical cells from women without cervical lesions were shown to express GRHL2, while immunohistochemistry found that positivity to GRHL2 decreased in cervical cancer tissues. In conclusion, a loss or strong reduction in GRHL2 expression appears to be a characteristic of cervical cancer, suggesting that GRHL2 down-regulation is a necessary step during cervical carcinogenesis. However, further studies are needed to delineate the role of GRHL2 in cervical cancer and during malignant progression.
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: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: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: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: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.