The three-dimensional structure of a ternary complex of the purine repressor, PurR, bound to both its corepressor, hypoxanthine, and the 16-base pair purF operator site has been solved at 2.7 A resolution by x-ray crystallography. The bipartite structure of PurR consists of an amino-terminal DNA-binding domain and a larger carboxyl-terminal corepressor binding and dimerization domain that is similar to that of the bacterial periplasmic binding proteins. The DNA-binding domain contains a helix-turn-helix motif that makes base-specific contacts in the major groove of the DNA. Base contacts are also made by residues of symmetry-related alpha helices, the "hinge" helices, which bind deeply in the minor groove. Critical to hinge helix-minor groove binding is the intercalation of the side chains of Leu54 and its symmetry-related mate, Leu54', into the central CpG-base pair step. These residues thereby act as "leucine levers" to pry open the minor groove and kink the purF operator by 45 degrees.
The transcription factor TCF7L1 is an embryonic stem cell signature gene that is upregulated in multiple aggressive cancer types, but its role in skin tumorigenesis has not yet been defined. Here we document TCF7L1 upregulation in skin squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and demonstrate that TCF7L1 overexpression increases tumor incidence, tumor multiplicity, and malignant progression in the chemically induced mouse model of skin SCC. Additionally, we show that downregulation of TCF7L1 and its paralogue TCF7L2 reduces tumor growth in a xenograft model of human skin SCC. Using separation-of-function mutants, we show that TCF7L1 promotes tumor growth, enhances cell migration, and overrides oncogenic RAS-induced senescence independently of its interaction with b-catenin. Through transcriptome profiling and combined gain-and loss-of-function studies, we identified LCN2 as a major downstream effector of TCF7L1 that drives tumor growth. Our findings establish a tumor-promoting role for TCF7L1 in skin and elucidate the mechanisms underlying its tumorigenic capacity.
K-Ras mutation activates CSCs, contributing to colorectal tumorigenesis and metastasis in CRC cells harboring APC mutations. Initial activation of β-catenin by APC loss and further enhancement through K-Ras mutation induces CD44, CD133, and CD166 expression.
The Wnt family of proteins regulates development and cell growth. We identified Wnt3a-based regulatory mechanisms for cell proliferation in NIH3T3 fibroblast cells. The degree of Wnt3a-induced proliferation was reduced by β-catenin small interfering RNA (siRNA) and extracellular signalregulated kinase (ERK) siRNA, indicating that both the ERK and Wnt/β-catenin pathways are involved in Wnt3a-induced proliferation. Wnt3a immediately and transiently activated the Raf-1-MEK-ERK cascade in a manner distinct from that of the β-catenin increase seen in cells treated with Wnt3a. Wnt3a-induced ERK activation was maintained even though basal ERK activities were reduced by β-catenin siRNA, indicating that Wnt3a may activate the ERK pathway independently of β-catenin. The ERK pathway was however, activated by β-catenin transfection, which was abolished by co-transfection with dominantnegative Tcf-4. Therefore, ERK pathway activation by Wnt signaling could occur at multiple levels, including β-catenin-independent direct signaling resulting from a Wnt3a and β-catenin/Tcf-4-dependent post gene transcriptional event. Wnt3a stimulated the G1 to S phase cell cycle progression. This stimulation was reduced by the ERK pathway inhibitor, indicating that Wnt3a promotes proliferation by stimulating the ERK pathway. Wnt3a therefore stimulates the proliferation of fibroblast cells, at least in part, via activation of the ERK and Wnt/β-catenin pathways.
The modulation of the affinity of DNA-binding proteins by small molecule effectors for cognate DNA sites is common to both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. However, the mechanisms by which effector binding to one domain affects DNA binding by a distal domain are poorly understood structurally. In initial studies to provide insight into the mechanism of effector-modulated DNA binding of the lactose repressor family, we determined the crystal structure of the purine repressor bound to a corepressor and purF operator. To extend our understanding, we have determined the structure of the corepressor-free corepressor-binding domain of the purine repressor at 2.2 A resolution. In the unliganded state, structural changes in the corepressor-binding pocket cause each subunit to rotate open by as much as 23 degrees, the consequences of which are the disengagement of the minor groove-binding hinge helices and repressor-DNA dissociation.
Both the Wnt/β-catenin and Ras pathways are aberrantly activated in most human colorectal cancers (CRCs) and interact cooperatively in tumor promotion. Inhibition of these signaling may therefore be an ideal strategy for treating CRC. We identified KY1220, a compound that destabilizes both β-catenin and Ras, via targeting the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, and synthesized its derivative KYA1797K. KYA1797K bound directly to the regulators of G-protein signaling domain of axin, initiating β-catenin and Ras degradation through enhancement of the β-catenin destruction complex activating GSK3β. KYA1797K effectively suppressed the growth of CRCs harboring APC and KRAS mutations, as shown by various in vitro studies and by in vivo studies using xenograft and transgenic mouse models of tumors induced by APC and KRAS mutations. Destabilization of both β-catenin and Ras via targeting axin is a potential therapeutic strategy for treatment of CRC and other type cancers activated Wnt/β-catenin and Ras pathways.
5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) remains the first-line treatment for colorectal cancer (CRC). Although 5-FU initially de-bulks the tumor mass, recurrence after chemotherapy is the barrier to effective clinical outcomes for CRC patients. Here, we demonstrate that p53 promotes WNT3 transcription, leading to activation of the WNT/β-catenin pathway in ApcMin/+/Lgr5EGFP mice, CRC patient-derived tumor organoids (PDTOs) and patient-derived tumor cells (PDCs). Through this regulation, 5-FU induces activation and enrichment of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in the residual tumors, contributing to recurrence after treatment. Combinatorial treatment of a WNT inhibitor and 5-FU effectively suppresses the CSCs and reduces tumor regrowth after discontinuation of treatment. These findings indicate p53 as a critical mediator of 5-FU-induced CSC activation via the WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway and highlight the significance of combinatorial treatment of WNT inhibitor and 5-FU as a compelling therapeutic strategy to improve the poor outcomes of current 5-FU-based therapies for CRC patients.
BackgroundAlopecia is the common hair loss problem that can affect many people. However, current therapies for treatment of alopecia are limited by low efficacy and potentially undesirable side effects. We have identified a new function for valproic acid (VPA), a GSK3β inhibitor that activates the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, to promote hair re-growth in vitro and in vivo.Methodology/ Principal FindingsTopical application of VPA to male C3H mice critically stimulated hair re-growth and induced terminally differentiated epidermal markers such as filaggrin and loricrin, and the dermal papilla marker alkaline phosphatase (ALP). VPA induced ALP in human dermal papilla cells by up-regulating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, whereas minoxidil (MNX), a drug commonly used to treat alopecia, did not significantly affect the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. VPA analogs and other GSK3β inhibitors that activate the Wnt/β-catenin pathway such as 4-phenyl butyric acid, LiCl, and BeCl2 also exhibited hair growth-promoting activities in vivo. Importantly, VPA, but not MNX, successfully stimulate hair growth in the wounds of C3H mice.Conclusions/ SignificanceOur findings indicate that small molecules that activate the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, such as VPA, can potentially be developed as drugs to stimulate hair re-growth.
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