Meta-Analysis of Grainyhead-Like Dependent Transcriptional Networks: A Roadmap for Identifying Novel Conserved Genetic Pathways.
ABSTRACT: : The Drosophila grainyhead (grh) and vertebrate Grainyhead-like (Grhl) transcription factors are among the most critical genes for epithelial development, maintenance and homeostasis, and are remarkably well conserved from fungi to humans. Mutations affecting grh/Grhl function lead to a myriad of developmental and adult onset epithelial disease, such as aberrant skin barrier formation, facial/palatal clefting, impaired neural tube closure, age-related hearing loss, ectodermal dysplasia, and importantly, cancers of epithelial origin. Recently, mutations in the family member GRHL3 have been shown to lead to both syndromic and non-syndromic facial and palatal clefting in humans, particularly the genetic disorder Van Der Woude Syndrome (VWS), as well as spina bifida, whereas mutations in mammalian Grhl2 lead to exencephaly and facial clefting. As transcription factors, Grhl proteins bind to and activate (or repress) a substantial number of target genes that regulate and drive a cascade of transcriptional networks. A multitude of large-scale datasets have been generated to explore the grh/Grhl-dependent transcriptome, following ablation or mis-regulation of grh/Grhl-function. Here, we have performed a meta-analysis of all 41 currently published grh and Grhl RNA-SEQ, and microarray datasets, in order to identify and characterise the transcriptional networks controlled by grh/Grhl genes across disparate biological contexts. Moreover, we have also cross-referenced our results with published ChIP and ChIP-SEQ datasets, in order to determine which of the critical effector genes are likely to be direct grh/Grhl targets, based on genomic occupancy by grh/Grhl genes. Lastly, to interrogate the predictive strength of our approach, we experimentally validated the expression of the top 10 candidate grhl target genes in epithelial development, in a zebrafish model lacking grhl3, and found that orthologues of seven of these (cldn23, ppl, prom2, ocln, slc6a19, aldh1a3, and sod3) were significantly down-regulated at 48 hours post-fertilisation. Therefore, our study provides a strong predictive resource for the identification of putative grh/grhl effector target genes.
Project description:Among the transcription factors that are conserved across phylogeny, the grainyhead family holds vital roles in driving the epithelial cell fate. In Drosophila, the function of grainyhead (grh) gene is essential during developmental processes such as epithelial differentiation, tracheal tube formation, maintenance of wing and hair polarity, and epidermal barrier wound repair. Three main mammalian orthologs of grh: Grainyhead-like 1-3 (GRHL1, GRHL2, and GRHL3) are highly conserved in terms of their gene structures and functions. GRHL proteins are essentially associated with the development and maintenance of the epithelial phenotype across diverse physiological conditions such as epidermal differentiation and craniofacial development as well as pathological functions including hearing impairment and neural tube defects. More importantly, through direct chromatin binding and induction of epigenetic alterations, GRHL factors function as potent suppressors of oncogenic cellular dedifferentiation program - epithelial-mesenchymal transition and its associated tumor-promoting phenotypes such as tumor cell migration and invasion. On the contrary, GRHL factors also induce pro-tumorigenic effects such as increased migration and anchorage-independent growth in certain tumor types. Furthermore, investigations focusing on the epithelial-specific activation of grh and GRHL factors have revealed that these factors potentially act as a pioneer factor in establishing a cell-type/cell-state specific accessible chromatin landscape that is exclusive for epithelial gene transcription. In this review, we highlight the essential roles of grh and GRHL factors during embryogenesis and pathogenesis, with a special focus on its emerging pioneering function.
Project description:The grainyhead-like (grhl) transcription factors play crucial roles in craniofacial development, epithelial morphogenesis, neural tube closure, and dorso-ventral patterning. By utilising the zebrafish to differentially regulate expression of family members grhl2b and grhl3, we show that both genes regulate epithelial migration, particularly convergence-extension (CE) type movements, during embryogenesis. Genetic deletion of grhl3 via CRISPR/Cas9 results in failure to complete epiboly and pre-gastrulation embryonic rupture, whereas morpholino (MO)-mediated knockdown of grhl3 signalling leads to aberrant neural tube morphogenesis at the midbrain-hindbrain boundary (MHB), a phenotype likely due to a compromised overlying enveloping layer (EVL). Further disruptions of grhl3-dependent pathways (through co-knockdown of grhl3 with target genes spec1 and arhgef19) confirm significant MHB morphogenesis and neural tube closure defects. Concomitant MO-mediated disruption of both grhl2b and grhl3 results in further extensive CE-like defects in body patterning, notochord and somite morphogenesis. Interestingly, over-expression of either grhl2b or grhl3 also leads to numerous phenotypes consistent with disrupted cellular migration during gastrulation, including embryo dorsalisation, axial duplication and impaired neural tube migration leading to cyclopia. Taken together, our study ascribes novel roles to the Grhl family in the context of embryonic development and morphogenesis.
Project description:Grainyhead (Grh)/CP2 transcription factors are highly conserved in multicellular organisms as key regulators of epithelial differentiation, organ development and skin barrier formation. In addition, they have been implicated as being tumor suppressors in a variety of human cancers. Despite their physiological importance, little is known about their structure and DNA binding mode. Here, we report the first structural study of mammalian Grh/CP2 factors. Crystal structures of the DNA-binding domains of grainyhead-like (Grhl) 1 and Grhl2 reveal a closely similar conformation with immunoglobulin-like core. Both share a common fold with the tumor suppressor p53, but differ in important structural features. The Grhl1 DNA-binding domain binds duplex DNA containing the consensus recognition element in a dimeric arrangement, supporting parsimonious target-sequence selection through two conserved arginine residues. We elucidate the molecular basis of a cancer-related mutation in Grhl1 involving one of these arginines, which completely abrogates DNA binding in biochemical assays and transcriptional activation of a reporter gene in a human cell line. Thus, our studies establish the structural basis of DNA target-site recognition by Grh transcription factors and reveal how tumor-associated mutations inactivate Grhl proteins. They may serve as points of departure for the structure-based development of Grh/CP2 inhibitors for therapeutic applications.
Project description:The Grainyhead-like (GRHL) transcription factors have been linked to many different types of cancer. However, no previous study has attempted to investigate potential correlations in expression of different GRHL genes in this context. Furthermore, there is very little information concerning damaging mutations and/or single nucleotide polymorphisms in GRHL genes that may be linked to cancer.DNA and RNA were extracted from human non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) and adjacent normal tissues (n?=?33 pairs of samples). The expression of GRHL genes was measured by quantitative real time PCR. Regulation of GRHL expression by miRNA was studied using cell transfection methods and dual-luciferase reporter system. Targeted deep sequencing of GRHL genes in tumor samples and control tissues were employed to search for mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms. Single marker rs141193530 was genotyped with pyrosequencing in additional NMSC replication cohort (n?=?176). Appropriate statistical and bioinformatic methods were used to analyze and interpret results.We discovered that the expression of two genes - GRHL1 and GRHL3 - is reduced in a coordinated manner in tumor samples, in comparison to the control healthy skin samples obtained from the same individuals. It is possible that both GRHL1 and GRHL3 are regulated, at least to some extent, by different strands of the same oncogenic microRNA - miR-21, what would at least partially explain observed correlation. No de novo mutations in the GRHL genes were detected in the examined tumor samples. However, some single nucleotide polymorphisms in the GRHL genes occur at significantly altered frequencies in the examined group of NMSC patients.Non-melanoma skin cancer growth is accompanied by coordinated reduced expression of epidermal differentiation genes: GRHL1 and GRHL3, which may be regulated by miR-21-3p and -5p, respectively. Some potentially damaging single nucleotide polymorphisms in GRHL genes occur with altered frequencies in NMSC patients, and they may in particular impair the expression of GRHL3 gene or functioning of encoded protein. The presence of these polymorphisms may indicate an increased risk of NMSC development in affected people.
Project description:The Grainy head (GRH) family of transcription factors are crucial for the development and repair of epidermal barriers in all animals in which they have been studied. This is a high-level functional conservation, as the known structural and enzymatic genes regulated by GRH proteins differ between species depending on the type of epidermal barrier being formed. Interestingly, members of the CP2 superfamily of transcription factors, which encompasses the GRH and LSF families in animals, are also found in fungi--organisms that lack epidermal tissues. To shed light on CP2 protein function in fungi, we characterized a Neurospora crassa mutant lacking the CP2 member we refer to as grainy head-like (grhl). We show that Neurospora GRHL has a DNA-binding specificity similar to that of animal GRH proteins and dissimilar to that of animal LSF proteins. Neurospora grhl mutants are defective in conidial-spore dispersal due to an inability to remodel the cell wall, and we show that grhl mutants and the long-known conidial separation-2 (csp-2) mutants are allelic. We then characterized the transcriptomes of both Neurospora grhl mutants and Drosophila grh mutant embryos to look for similarities in the affected genes. Neurospora grhl appears to play a role in the development and remodeling of the cell wall, as well as in the activation of genes involved in defense and virulence. Drosophila GRH is required to activate the expression of many genes involved in cuticular/epidermal-barrier formation. We also present evidence that GRH plays a role in adult antimicrobial defense. These results, along with previous studies of animal GRH proteins, suggest the fascinating possibility that the apical extracellular barriers of some animals and fungi might share an evolutionary connection, and that the formation of physical barriers in the last common ancestor was under the control of a transcriptional code that included GRH-like proteins.
Project description:Grainyhead genes are involved in wound healing and developmental neural tube closure. Metastasis is a multistep process during which cancer cells disseminate from the site of primary tumors and establish secondary tumors in distant organs. The adhesion protein E-cadherin plays an essential role in metastasis. In light of the high degree of similarity between the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurring in wound-healing processes and the EMT occurring during the acquisition of invasiveness in skin or breast cancer, we investigated the role of the Grainyhead genes in cancer invasion. Here, we show that there is an inverse relationship between Grainyhead-like 3 (Grhl3) and E-cadherin expression in some epithelial tumor cell lines. Overexpression of Grhl3 in the E-cadherin-positive epithelial tumor cell line, characterized by less invasiveness, generated a transcriptional blockage of the E-cadherin gene and promoted cell migration and cell invasion. Conversely, Grhl3 depletion inhibited cell migration and cell invasion and was associated with a gain of E-cadherin expression. To further explore the mechanism by which Grhl3 regulated E-cadherin expression, an E-cadherin promoter report analysis was performed and results showed that Grhl3 repressed E-cadherin gene expression by directly or indirectly binding to the E-boxes present in the proximal E-cadherin promoter. Taken together, our findings define a major role for Grhl3 in the induction of migration and invasion by the downregulation of E-cadherin in cancer cells.
Project description:Orofacial clefting is a common birth defect with significant morbidity. A panoply of candidate genes have been discovered through synergy of animal models and human genetics. Among these, variants in interferon regulatory factor 6 (IRF6) cause syndromic orofacial clefting and contribute risk toward isolated cleft lip and palate (1/700 live births). Rare variants in IRF6 can lead to Van der Woude syndrome (1/35,000 live births) and popliteal pterygium syndrome (1/300,000 live births). Furthermore, IRF6 regulates GRHL3 and rare variants in this downstream target can also lead to Van der Woude syndrome. In addition, a common variant (rs642961) in the IRF6 locus is found in 30% of the world's population and contributes risk for isolated orofacial clefting. Biochemical studies revealed that rs642961 abrogates one of four AP-2alpha binding sites. Like IRF6 and GRHL3, rare variants in TFAP2A can also lead to syndromic orofacial clefting with lip pits (branchio-oculo-facial syndrome). The literature suggests that AP-2alpha, IRF6 and GRHL3 are part of a pathway that is essential for lip and palate development. In addition to updating the pathways, players and pursuits, this review will highlight some of the current questions in the study of orofacial clefting.
Project description:Rare mutations in IRF6 and GRHL3 cause Van der Woude syndrome, an autosomal dominant orofacial clefting disorder. Common variants in IRF6 and GRHL3 also contribute risk for isolated orofacial clefting. Similarly, variants within genes that encode receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling components, including members of the FGF pathway, EPHA3 and SPRY2, also contribute risk for isolated orofacial clefting. In the mouse, loss of Irf6 or perturbation of Fgf signaling leads to abnormal oral epithelial adhesions and cleft palate. Oral adhesions can result from a disruption of periderm formation. Here, we find that IRF6 and SPRY4 signaling interact in periderm function. We crossed Irf6 heterozygous ( Irf6+/-) mice with transgenic mice that express Spry4 in the basal epithelial layer ( TgKRT14::Spry4). While embryos with either of these mutations can have abnormal oral adhesions, using a new quantitative assay, we observed a nonadditive effect of abnormal oral epithelial adhesions in the most severely affected double mutant embryos ( Irf6+/-;TgKRT14::Spry4). At the molecular level, the sites of abnormal oral adhesions maintained periderm-like cells that express keratin 6, but we observed abnormal expression of GRHL3. Together, these data suggest that Irf6 and RTK signaling interact in regulating periderm differentiation and function, as well as provide a rationale to screen for epistatic interactions between variants in IRF6 and RTK signaling pathway genes in human orofacial clefting populations.
Project description:The LSF/Grainyhead transcription factor family is involved in many important biological processes, including cell cycle, cell growth and development. In order to investigate the evolutionary conservation of these biological roles, we have characterized two new family members in Caenorhabditis elegans and Xenopus laevis. The C.elegans member, Ce-GRH-1, groups with the Grainyhead subfamily, while the X.laevis member, Xl-LSF, groups with the LSF subfamily. Ce-GRH-1 binds DNA in a sequence-specific manner identical to that of Drosophila melanogaster Grainyhead. In addition, Ce-GRH-1 binds to sequences upstream of the C.elegans gene encoding aromatic L-amino-acid decarboxylase and genes involved in post-embryonic development, mab-5 and dbl-1. All three C.elegans genes are homologs of D.melanogaster Grainyhead-regulated genes. RNA-mediated interference of Ce-grh-1 results in embryonic lethality in worms, accompanied by soft, defective cuticles. These phenotypes are strikingly similar to those observed previously in D.melanogaster grainyhead mutants, suggesting conservation of the developmental role of these family members over the course of evolution. Our phylogenetic analysis of the expanded LSF/GRH family (including other previously unrecognized proteins/ESTs) suggests that the structural and functional dichotomy of this family dates back more than 700 million years, i.e. to the time when the first multicellular organisms are thought to have arisen.
Project description:Grainyhead-like (GRHL) transcription factors were recently linked to the etiology of neural tube defects (NTDs). Overlapping patterns in the variation of schizophrenia (SCZ) incidence with that of NTDs suggests the presence of common etiological risk factors. This preliminary study was designed to examine the relationship between two missense variants of GRHL3 gene (rs2486668C/G and rs545809A/T) and SCZ susceptibility among Iranians. Three hundred ninety subjects (192 patients confirmed with SCZ, and 198 healthy controls) were enrolled and genotyped. Statistical and bioinformatics analyzes were performed to determine the effects of the variants. In silico analyzes were performed to determine the effects of the variants on the secondary structure of GRHL3 protein and prediction of silencer motifs for each variation. Statistically significant differences were observed between the studied groups under codominant AA, dominant AT+AA, and recessive AA genetic contrast models for rs545809A/T. The presence of the A allele of rs545809A/T enhanced SCZ risk by 2.33 fold. In contrast, rs2486668C/G was not linked to SCZ susceptibility (P > 0.05). Bioinformatics analysis revealed that both missense SNPs caused substantial changes in the secondary structure of GRHL3-mRNA. Screening of the ?anking sequences of rs545809A/T predicted silencer motifs for this SNP. Our results demonstrated that the rs545809A/T of GRHL3 gene could affect the risk of SCZ in Iranian populations. Replication studies are warranted to confirm these results.