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Glucagon plays a major role in the regulation of glucose homeostasis during fed and fasting states. However, the mechanisms responsible for the regulation of pancreatic α cell mass and function are not completely understood. In the current study, we identified mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) as a major regulator of α cell mass and glucagon secretion. Using mice with tissue-specific deletion of the mTORC1 regulator Raptor in α cells (αRaptorKO), we showed that mTORC1 signaling is dispensable for α cell development, but essential for α cell maturation during the transition from a milk-based diet to a chow-based diet after weaning. Moreover, inhibition of mTORC1 signaling in αRaptorKO mice and in WT animals exposed to chronic rapamycin administration decreased glucagon content and glucagon secretion. In αRaptorKO mice, impaired glucagon secretion occurred in response to different secretagogues and was mediated by alterations in KATP channel subunit expression and activity. Additionally, our data identify the mTORC1/FoxA2 axis as a link between mTORC1 and transcriptional regulation of key genes responsible for α cell function. Thus, our results reveal a potential function of mTORC1 in nutrient-dependent regulation of glucagon secretion and identify a role for mTORC1 in controlling α cell-mass maintenance.
Key transcription factors control the gene expression program in mature pancreatic β-cells, but their integration into regulatory networks is little understood. Here, we show that Insm1, Neurod1 and Foxa2 directly interact and together bind regulatory sequences in the genome of mature pancreatic β-cells. We used Insm1 ablation in mature β-cells in mice and found pronounced deficits in insulin secretion and gene expression. Insm1-dependent genes identified previously in developing β-cells markedly differ from the ones identified in the adult. In particular, adult mutant β-cells resemble immature β-cells of newborn mice in gene expression and functional properties. We defined Insm1, Neurod1 and Foxa2 binding sites associated with genes deregulated in Insm1 mutant β-cells. Remarkably, combinatorial binding of Insm1, Neurod1 and Foxa2 but not binding of Insm1 alone explained a significant fraction of gene expression changes. Human genomic sequences corresponding to the murine sites occupied by Insm1/Neurod1/Foxa2 were enriched in single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with glycolytic traits. Thus, our data explain part of the mechanisms by which β-cells maintain maturity: Combinatorial Insm1/Neurod1/Foxa2 binding identifies regulatory sequences that maintain the mature gene expression program in β-cells, and disruption of this network results in functional failure.
© 2015 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY NC ND 4.0 license.
The lineage-specific basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Ptf1a is a critical driver for development of both the pancreas and nervous system. How one transcription factor controls diverse programs of gene expression is a fundamental question in developmental biology. To uncover molecular strategies for the program-specific functions of Ptf1a, we identified bound genomic regions in vivo during development of both tissues. Most regions bound by Ptf1a are specific to each tissue, lie near genes needed for proper formation of each tissue, and coincide with regions of open chromatin. The specificity of Ptf1a binding is encoded in the DNA surrounding the Ptf1a-bound sites, because these regions are sufficient to direct tissue-restricted reporter expression in transgenic mice. Fox and Sox factors were identified as potential lineage-specific modifiers of Ptf1a binding, since binding motifs for these factors are enriched in Ptf1a-bound regions in pancreas and neural tube, respectively. Of the Fox factors expressed during pancreatic development, Foxa2 plays a major role. Indeed, Ptf1a and Foxa2 colocalize in embryonic pancreatic chromatin and can act synergistically in cell transfection assays. Together, these findings indicate that lineage-specific chromatin landscapes likely constrain the DNA binding of Ptf1a, and they identify Fox and Sox gene families as part of this process.
Neuroendocrine (NE) prostate tumors and neuroendocrine differentiation (NED) in prostatic adenocarcinomas have been associated with poor prognosis. In this study, we used the TRAMP mouse model that develops NE prostate tumors to identify key factors that can lead to NED. We have previously reported that NE tumors express the forkhead transcription factor, Foxa2, Mash1 (mouse achaete scute homolog-1), as well as Synaptophysin. In TRAMP, the prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) first expresses Foxa2 and Synaptophysin, which then progresses to NE cancer. In order to determine if Foxa2 is dispensable for development or maintenance of NE cancer, a conditional knock-out of Foxa2 in TRAMP mice was generated by breeding mice with two floxed alleles of Foxa2 and one copy of Nkx3.1-Cre. Nkx3.1-Cre/Foxa2(loxP/loxP) mice showed loss of Foxa2 expression in embryonic prostatic buds. No expression of Foxa2 was seen in the adult prostate in either conditional null or control mice. Foxa2 is universally expressed in all wild type TRAMP NE tumors, but Mash1 expression is seen only in a few samples in a few cells. With the loss of Foxa2 in the NE tumors of the TRAMP/Nkx3.1-Cre/Foxa2(loxP/loxP) mice, the expression of the pro-neuronal gene Mash1 is upregulated. NE tumors from both the TRAMP control and Foxa2-deficient TRAMP prostate express Synaptophysin and SV40 Large T-antigen, and both show a loss of androgen receptor expression in NE cells. These studies suggest that the TRAMP NE tumors can form in the absence of Foxa2 by an up regulation of Mash1.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
During early pancreatic development, Notch signaling represses differentiation of endocrine cells and promotes proliferation of Nkx6-1(+)Ptf1a(+) multipotent progenitor cells (MPCs). Later, antagonistic interactions between Nkx6 transcription factors and Ptf1a function to segregate MPCs into distal Nkx6-1(-)Ptf1a(+) acinar progenitors and proximal Nkx6-1(+)Ptf1a(-) duct and β-cell progenitors. Distal cells are initially multipotent, but evolve into unipotent, acinar cell progenitors. Conversely, proximal cells are bipotent and give rise to duct cells and late-born endocrine cells, including the insulin producing β-cells. However, signals that regulate proximodistal (P-D) patterning and thus formation of β-cell progenitors are unknown. Here we show that Mind bomb 1 (Mib1) is required for correct P-D patterning of the developing pancreas and β-cell formation. We found that endoderm-specific inactivation of Mib1 caused a loss of Nkx6-1(+)Ptf1a(-) and Hnf1β(+) cells and a corresponding loss of Neurog3(+) endocrine progenitors and β-cells. An accompanying increase in Nkx6-1(-)Ptf1a(+) and amylase(+) cells, occupying the proximal domain, suggests that proximal cells adopt a distal fate in the absence of Mib1 activity. Impeding Notch-mediated transcriptional activation by conditional expression of dominant negative Mastermind-like 1 (Maml1) resulted in a similarly distorted P-D patterning and suppressed β-cell formation, as did conditional inactivation of the Notch target gene Hes1. Our results reveal iterative use of Notch in pancreatic development to ensure correct P-D patterning and adequate β-cell formation.
The homeobox gene Noto is expressed in the node and its derivative the notochord. Here we use a targeted Noto-GFP reporter to isolate and characterize node/notochord-like cells derived from mouse embryonic stem cells. We find very few Noto-expressing cells after spontaneous differentiation. However, the number of Noto-expressing cells was increased when using Activin A to induce a Foxa2- and Brachyury-expressing progenitor population, whose further differentiation into Noto-expressing cells was improved by simultaneous inhibition of BMP, Wnt, and retinoic acid signaling. Noto-GFP(+) cells expressed the node/notochord markers Noto, Foxa2, Shh, Noggin, Chordin, Foxj1, and Brachyury; showed a vacuolarization characteristic of notochord cells; and can integrate into midline structures when grafted into Hensen's node of gastrulating chicken embryos. The ability to generate node/notochord-like cells in vitro will aid the biochemical characterization of these developmentally important structures.
FOXA1 and FOXA2, members of the forkhead transcription factor family, are critical for epithelial differentiation in many endoderm-derived organs, including the pancreas. However, their role in tumor progression is largely unknown. Here, we identified FOXA1 and FOXA2 as important antagonists of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) through their positive regulation of E-cadherin and maintenance of the epithelial phenotype. In human PDA samples, FOXA1/2 are expressed in all epithelia from normal to well-differentiated cancer cells, but are lost in undifferentiated cancer cells. In PDA cell lines, FOXA1/2 expression is consistently suppressed in experimental EMT models and RNAi silencing of FOXA1/2 alone is sufficient to induce EMT. Conversely, ectopic FOXA1/2 expression can potently neutralize several EMT-related E-cadherin repressive mechanisms. Finally, ectopic FOXA2 expression could reactivate E-cadherin expression in a PDA cell line with extensive promoter hypermethylation. In fact, demethylation-mediated reactivation of E-cadherin expression in these cells required concurrent reactivation of endogenous FOXA2 expression. We conclude that suppression of FOXA1/2 expression is both necessary and sufficient for EMT during PDA malignant progression.
BACKGROUND - The role of Wnt/beta-Catenin signaling in embryogenesis and carcinogenesis has been extensively studied in organs such as colon, lung and pancreas, but little is known about Wnt/beta-Catenin signaling in the prostate. Although stabilizing mutations in APC and beta-Catenin are rare in primary prostate tumors, recent studies suggest that cytoplasmic/nuclear beta-Catenin is associated with advanced, metastatic, hormone-refractory prostate carcinoma.
METHODS - To better understand the role of beta-Catenin in prostatic development and carcinogenesis, we studied Wnt expression during prostate development and activated Wnt/beta-Catenin signaling in the developing and adult prostate.
RESULTS - Our results demonstrated that during prostate development Wnt ligands display a dynamic expression pattern. Activation of beta-Catenin during prostate development caused epithelial hyperplasia followed by prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) in prostate. In the adult prostate, activation of beta-Catenin resulted in high grade PIN (HGPIN) and continuous prostatic growth after castration. As a result of activation of beta-Catenin, AR was first up-regulated with the emergence of epithelial hyperplasia, but was later down-regulated when HGPIN developed. Furthermore, activation of beta-Catenin induced Foxa2 re-expression in adult prostate which normally is only expressed in the embryonic budding stage during prostate development.
CONCLUSIONS - The results from this study strongly suggest that Wnt/beta-Catenin signaling is involved in the regulation of prostate development and confirm that constitutive activation of this pathway enables the mouse prostate to grow after castration.
The G6Pase (glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit) catalyses the final step in the gluconeogenic and glycogenolytic pathways, the hydrolysis of glucose-6-phosphate to glucose. We show here that, in HepG2 hepatoma cells, EGF (epidermal growth factor) inhibits basal mouse G6Pase fusion gene transcription. Several studies have shown that insulin represses basal mouse G6Pase fusion gene transcription through FOXO1 (forkhead box O1), but Stoffel and colleagues have recently suggested that insulin can also regulate gene transcription through FOXA2 (forkhead box A2) [Wolfrum, Asilmaz, Luca, Friedman and Stoffel (2003) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 100, 11624-11629]. A combined GR (glucocorticoid receptor)-FOXA2 binding site is located between -185 and -174 in the mouse G6Pase promoter overlapping two FOXO1 binding sites located between (-188 and -182) and (-174 and -168). Selective mutation of the FOXO1 binding sites reduced the effect of insulin, whereas mutation of the GR/FOXA2 binding site had no effect on the insulin response. In contrast, selective mutation of the FOXO1 and GR/FOXA2 binding sites both reduced the effect of EGF. The effect of these mutations was additive, since the combined mutation of both FOXO1 and GR/FOXA2 binding sites reduced the effect of EGF to a greater extent than the individual mutations. These results suggest that, in HepG2 cells, GR and/or FOXA2 are required for the inhibition of basal G6Pase gene transcription by EGF but not insulin. EGF also inhibits hepatic G6Pase gene expression in vivo, but in cultured hepatocytes EGF has the opposite effect of stimulating expression, an observation that may be explained by a switch in ErbB receptor sub-type expression following hepatocyte isolation.
Islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP/G6PC2) is a major autoantigen in both mouse and human type 1 diabetes. IGRP is selectively expressed in islet beta cells and polymorphisms in the IGRP gene have recently been associated with variations in fasting blood glucose levels and cardiovascular-associated mortality in humans. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays have shown that the IGRP promoter binds the islet-enriched transcription factors Pax-6 and BETA2. We show here, again using ChIP assays, that the IGRP promoter also binds the islet-enriched transcription factors MafA and Foxa2. Single binding sites for these factors were identified in the proximal IGRP promoter, mutation of which resulted in decreased IGRP fusion gene expression in betaTC-3, Hamster insulinoma tumor (HIT), and Min6 cells. ChiP assays have shown that the islet-enriched transcription factor Pdx-1 also binds the IGRP promoter, but mutational analysis of four Pdx-1 binding sites in the proximal IGRP promoter revealed surprisingly little effect of Pdx-1 binding on IGRP fusion gene expression in betaTC-3 cells. In contrast, in both HIT and Min6 cells mutation of these four Pdx-1 binding sites resulted in a approximately 50% reduction in fusion gene expression. These data suggest that the same group of islet-enriched transcription factors, namely Pdx-1, Pax-6, MafA, BETA2, and Foxa2, directly or indirectly regulate expression of the two major autoantigens in type 1 diabetes.