A distal enhancer maintaining Hoxa1 expression orchestrates retinoic acid-induced early ESCs differentiation.
ABSTRACT: Retinoic acid (RA) induces rapid differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), partly by activating expression of the transcription factor Hoxa1, which regulates downstream target genes that promote ESCs differentiation. However, mechanisms of RA-induced Hoxa1 expression and ESCs early differentiation remain largely unknown. Here, we identify a distal enhancer interacting with the Hoxa1 locus through a long-range chromatin loop. Enhancer deletion significantly inhibited expression of RA-induced Hoxa1 and endoderm master control genes such as Gata4 and Gata6. Transcriptome analysis revealed that RA-induced early ESCs differentiation was blocked in Hoxa1 enhancer knockout cells, suggesting a requirement for the enhancer. Restoration of Hoxa1 expression partly rescued expression levels of ?40% of genes whose expression changed following enhancer deletion, and ?18% of promoters of those rescued genes were directly bound by Hoxa1. Our data show that a distal enhancer maintains Hoxa1 expression through long-range chromatin loop and that Hoxa1 directly regulates downstream target genes expression and then orchestrates RA-induced early differentiation of ESCs. This discovery reveals mechanisms of a novel enhancer regulating RA-induced Hoxa genes expression and early ESCs differentiation.
Project description:Homeobox a1 (Hoxa1) is one of the most rapidly induced genes in ES cell differentiation and it is the earliest expressed Hox gene in the mouse embryo. In this study, we used genomic approaches to identify Hoxa1-bound regions during early stages of ES cell differentiation into the neuro-ectoderm. Within 2 h of retinoic acid treatment, Hoxa1 is rapidly recruited to target sites that are associated with genes involved in regulation of pluripotency, and these genes display early changes in expression. The pattern of occupancy of Hoxa1 is dynamic and changes over time. At 12 h of differentiation, many sites bound at 2 h are lost and a new cohort of bound regions appears. At both time points the genome-wide mapping reveals that there is significant co-occupancy of Nanog (Nanog homeobox) and Hoxa1 on many common target sites, and these are linked to genes in the pluripotential regulatory network. In addition to shared target genes, Hoxa1 binds to regulatory regions of Nanog, and conversely Nanog binds to a 3' enhancer of Hoxa1 This finding provides evidence for direct cross-regulatory feedback between Hoxa1 and Nanog through a mechanism of mutual repression. Hoxa1 also binds to regulatory regions of Sox2 (sex-determining region Y box 2), Esrrb (estrogen-related receptor beta), and Myc, which underscores its key input into core components of the pluripotential regulatory network. We propose a model whereby direct inputs of Nanog and Hoxa1 on shared targets and mutual repression between Hoxa1 and the core pluripotency network provides a molecular mechanism that modulates the fine balance between the alternate states of pluripotency and differentiation.
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA) regulates clustered Hox gene expression during embryogenesis and is required to establish the anterior-posterior body plan. Using mutant embryonic stem cell lines deficient in the RA receptor ? (RAR?) or Hoxa1 3'-RA-responsive element, we studied the kinetics of transcriptional and epigenomic patterning responses to RA. RAR? is essential for RA-induced Hox transcriptional activation, and deletion of its binding site in the Hoxa1 enhancer attenuates transcriptional and epigenomic activation of both Hoxa and Hoxb gene clusters. The kinetics of epigenomic reorganization demonstrate that complete erasure of the polycomb repressive mark H3K27me3 is not necessary to initiate Hox transcription. RAR? is not required to establish the bivalent character of Hox clusters, but RA/RAR? signaling is necessary to erase H3K27me3 from activated Hox genes during embryonic stem cell differentiation. Highly coordinated, long range epigenetic Hox cluster reorganization is closely linked to transcriptional activation and is triggered by RAR? located at the Hoxa1 3'-RA-responsive element.
Project description:We have identified an intergenic transcriptional activity that is located between the human HOXA1 and HOXA2 genes, shows myeloid-specific expression, and is up-regulated during granulocytic differentiation. The novel gene, termed HOTAIRM1 (HOX antisense intergenic RNA myeloid 1), is transcribed antisense to the HOXA genes and originates from the same CpG island that embeds the start site of HOXA1. The transcript appears to be a noncoding RNA containing no long open-reading frame; sucrose gradient analysis shows no association with polyribosomal fractions. HOTAIRM1 is the most prominent intergenic transcript expressed and up-regulated during induced granulocytic differentiation of NB4 promyelocytic leukemia and normal human hematopoietic cells; its expression is specific to the myeloid lineage. Its induction during retinoic acid (RA)-driven granulocytic differentiation is through RA receptor and may depend on the expression of myeloid cell development factors targeted by RA signaling. Knockdown of HOTAIRM1 quantitatively blunted RA-induced expression of HOXA1 and HOXA4 during the myeloid differentiation of NB4 cells, and selectively attenuated induction of transcripts for the myeloid differentiation genes CD11b and CD18, but did not noticeably impact the more distal HOXA genes. These findings suggest that HOTAIRM1 plays a role in the myelopoiesis through modulation of gene expression in the HOXA cluster.
Project description:BACKGROUND: HOX genes encode homeodomain-containing transcription factors involved in the regulation of cellular proliferation and differentiation during embryogenesis. However, members of this family demonstrated oncogenic properties in some malignancies. The present study investigated whether genes of the HOXA cluster play a role in oral cancer. METHODS: In order to identify differentially expressed HOXA genes, duplex RT-PCR in oral samples from healthy mucosa and squamous cell carcinoma was used. The effects of HOXA1 on proliferation, apoptosis, adhesion, invasion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and anchorage-independent growth were assessed in cells with up- and down-regulation of HOXA1. Immunohistochemical analysis using a tissue microarray (TMA) containing 127 oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) was performed to determine the prognostic role of HOXA1 expression. RESULTS: We showed that transcripts of HOXA genes are more abundant in OSCC than in healthy oral mucosa. In particular, HOXA1, which has been described as one of the HOX members that plays an important role in tumorigenesis, was significantly more expressed in OSCCs compared to healthy oral mucosas. Further analysis demonstrated that overexpression of HOXA1 in HaCAT human epithelial cells promotes proliferation, whereas downregulation of HOXA1 in human OSCC cells (SCC9 cells) decreases it. Enforced HOXA1 expression in HaCAT cells was not capable of modulating other events related to tumorigenesis, including apoptosis, adhesion, invasion, EMT and anchorage-independent growth. A high number of HOXA1-positive cells was significantly associated with T stage, N stage, tumor differentiation and proliferative potential of the tumors, and was predictive of poor survival. In multivariate analysis, HOXA1 was an independent prognostic factor for OSCC patients (HR: 2.68; 95% CI: 1.59-2.97; p = 0.026). CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that HOXA1 may contribute to oral carcinogenesis by increasing tumor cell proliferation, and suggest that HOXA1 expression might be helpful as a prognostic marker for patients with OSCC.
Project description:Melanoma is a highly lethal malignancy notorious for its aggressive clinical course and eventual resistance to existing therapies. Currently, we possess a limited understanding of the genetic events driving melanoma progression, and much effort is focused on identifying pro-metastatic aberrations or perturbed signaling networks that constitute new therapeutic targets. In this study, we validate and assess the mechanism by which homeobox transcription factor A1 (HOXA1), a pro-invasion oncogene previously identified in a metastasis screen by our group, contributes to melanoma progression. Transcriptome and pathway profiling analyses of cells expressing HOXA1 reveals upregulation of factors involved in diverse cytokine pathways that include the transforming growth factor beta (TGF?) signaling axis, which we further demonstrate to be required for HOXA1-mediated cell invasion in melanoma cells. Transcriptome profiling also shows HOXA1's ability to potently downregulate expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) and other genes required for melanocyte differentiation, suggesting a mechanism by which HOXA1 expression de-differentiates cells into a pro-invasive cell state concomitant with TGF? activation. Our analysis of publicly available data sets indicate that the HOXA1-induced gene signature successfully categorizes melanoma specimens based on their metastatic potential and, importantly, is capable of stratifying melanoma patient risk for metastasis based on expression in primary tumors. Together, these validation data and mechanistic insights suggest that patients whose primary tumors express HOXA1 are among a high-risk metastasis subgroup that should be considered for anti-TGF? therapy in adjuvant settings. Moreover, further analysis of HOXA1 target genes in melanoma may reveal new pathways or targets amenable to therapeutic intervention.
Project description:In cancer cells, a gain of stemness may have profound implications for tumor initiation, aggressiveness, and clinical outcome. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the self-renewal maintenance of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) remain elusive. Here, based on analysis of transcriptome sequencing, we identified a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) named HotairM1, which is weakly expressed in human colorectal carcinoma and uveal melanoma, and a much lower expression in corresponding CSCs. Our results showed that HotairM1 depletion could promote CSC self-renewal and tumor propagation. Mechanistically, HotairM1 recruit EZH2 and SUZ12 to the promoter of its target gene HOXA1, leading to histone H3K27 trimethylation and epigenetic silencing of HOXA1. The silence of HOXA1 subsequently induces the H3K27 acetylation at the enhancer site of Nanog gene to upregulate its expression. The enrichment of Nanog could further inhibit HOXA1 expression, forming a reciprocal regulation loop augmenting the stemness maintaining effect. In summary, our results revealed a lncRNA-based regulatory loop that sustains self-renewal of CSCs, which highlights the critical role of HotairM1 in CSC development through the HOXA1-Nanog signaling loop. Graphical Abstract Knockdown of lncRNA HotairM1 could promote self-renewal of CSCs and subsequent tumor proliferation and propagation through inhibiting neighbor gene HOXA1 expression. HOXA1 would repress stemness maintenance of CSC through inhibiting Nanog expression.
Project description:Hox genes play a crucial role during embryonic patterning and organogenesis. Of the 39 Hox genes, Hoxa1 is the first to be expressed during embryogenesis and the only anterior Hox gene linked to a human syndrome. Hoxa1 is necessary for the proper development of the brainstem, inner ear and heart in humans and mice; however, almost nothing is known about the molecular downstream targets through which it exerts its function. To gain insight into the transcriptional network regulated by this protein, we performed microarray analysis on tissue microdissected from the prospective rhombomere 3-5 region of Hoxa1 null and wild type embryos. Due to the very early and transient expression of this gene, dissections were performed on early somite stage embryos during an eight-hour time window of development. Our array yielded a list of around 300 genes differentially expressed between the two samples. Many of the identified genes play a role in a specific developmental or cellular process. Some of the validated targets regulate early neural crest induction and specification. Interestingly, three of these genes, Zic1, Hnf1b and Foxd3, were down-regulated in the posterior hindbrain, where cardiac neural crest cells arise, which pattern the outflow tract of the heart. Other targets are necessary for early inner ear development, e.g. Pax8 and Fgfr3 or are expressed in specific hindbrain neurons regulating respiration, e.g. Lhx5. These findings allow us to propose a model where Hoxa1 acts in a genetic cascade upstream of genes controlling specific aspects of embryonic development, thereby providing insight into possible mechanisms underlying the human HoxA1-syndrome.
Project description:We recently reported an oncogenomics-guided screening approach designed to identify genetic drivers of early stage melanoma metastasis, and in this study we functionally validate the top-scoring candidate, homeobox transcription factor A1 (HOXA1), by demonstrating HOXA1‘s robust effects on melanoma cell invasion, metastasis and tumorigenicity. Transcriptome and pathway profiling analyses of cells expressing HOXA1 reveal up-regulation of factors involved in diverse cytokine pathways that include the TGFβ signaling axis, which we further demonstrate to be required for HOXA1-mediated cell invasion. Transcriptome profiling also informed HOXA1’s ability to potently down-regulate expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) and other genes required for melanocyte differentiation, suggesting a mechanism by which HOXA1 expression de-differentiates cells into a pro-invasive precursor cell state concomitant with TGFβ activation. Our analysis of publicly available datasets indicate that the HOXA1-induced gene signature successfully categorizes melanoma specimens based on their metastatic potential and, importantly, is capable of stratifying melanoma patient risk for metastasis based on expression in primary tumors. The HOXA1-induced transcription analysis was conducted using RNAs extracted from WM115 cells transduced with either control or HOXA1, followed by hybridization of labeled cDNA onto Affymetrix GeneChips (Human Genome U133Plus2.0).
Project description:Ethanol (EtOH) is a teratogen, but its teratogenic mechanisms are not fully understood. The alcohol form of vitamin A (retinol/ROL) can be oxidized to all-trans-retinoic acid (RA), which plays a critical role in stem cell differentiation and development. Using an embryonic stem cell (ESC) model to analyze EtOH's effects on differentiation, we show here that EtOH and acetaldehyde, but not acetate, increase differentiation-associated mRNA levels, and that EtOH decreases pluripotency-related mRNAs. Using reporter assays, ChIP assays, and retinoic acid receptor-? (RAR?) knockout ESC lines generated by CRISPR/Cas9 and homologous recombination, we demonstrate that EtOH signals via RAR? binding to RA response elements (RAREs) in differentiation-associated gene promoters or enhancers. We also report that EtOH-mediated increases in homeobox A1 (Hoxa1) and cytochrome P450 family 26 subfamily A member 1 (Cyp26a1) transcripts, direct RA target genes, require the expression of the RA-synthesizing enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 family member A2 (Aldh1a2), suggesting that EtOH-mediated induction of Hoxa1 and Cyp26a1 requires ROL from the serum. As shown with CRISPR/Cas9 knockout lines, the retinol dehydrogenase gene Rdh10 and a functional RARE in the ROL transporter stimulated by retinoic acid 6 (Stra6) gene are required for EtOH induction of Hoxa1 and Cyp26a1 We conclude that EtOH stimulates stem cell differentiation by increasing the influx and metabolism of ROL for downstream RAR?-dependent transcription. In stem cells, EtOH may shift cell fate decisions to alter developmental outcomes by increasing endogenous ROL/RA signaling via increased Stra6 expression and ROL oxidation.
Project description:Corexit-EC9500A and Corexit-EC9527A are two chemical dispersants that have been used to remediate the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Both dispersants are composed primarily of organic solvents and surfactants and act by emulsifying the crude oil to facilitate biodegradation. The potential adverse effect of the Corexit chemicals on mammalian embryonic development remains largely unknown. Retinol (vitamin A) signaling, mediated by all-trans retinoic acid (RA), is essential for neural tube formation and the development of many organs in the embryo. The physiological levels of RA in cells and tissues are maintained by the retinol signaling pathway (RSP), which controls the biosynthesis of RA from dietary retinol and the catabolism of RA to polar metabolites for removal. RA is a potent activating ligand for the RAR/RXR nuclear receptors. Through RA and the receptors, the RSP modulates the expression of many developmental genes; interference with the RSP is potentially teratogenic. In this study the mouse P19 embryonal pluripotent cell, which contains a functional RSP, was used to evaluate the effects of the Corexit dispersants on retinol signaling and associated neuronal differentiation. The results showed that Corexit-EC9500A was more cytotoxic than Corexit-EC9527A to P19 cells. At non-cytotoxic doses, Corexit-EC9527A inhibited retinol-induced expression of the Hoxa1 gene, which encodes a transcription factor for the regulation of body patterning in the embryo. Such inhibition was seen in the retinol- and retinal- induced, but not RA-induced, Hoxa1 up-regulation, indicating that the Corexit chemicals primarily inhibit RA biosynthesis from retinal. In addition, Corexit-EC9527A suppressed retinol-induced P19 cell differentiation into neuronal cells, indicating potential neurotoxic effect of the chemicals under the tested conditions. The surfactant ingredient, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS), may be a major contributor to the observed effect of Corexit-EC9527A in the cell.