Bhat AA, Sharma A, Pope J, Krishnan M, Washington MK, Singh AB, Dhawan P. Caudal homeobox protein Cdx-2 cooperates with Wnt pathway to regulate claudin-1 expression in colon cancer cells. PloS one. 7(7). e37174. PMID: 22719836 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3376107
Dysregulation of tight junctions (TJs) is often associated with human diseases including carcinogenesis and recent studies support role of TJ integral proteins in the regulation of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). In this regard, expression of claudin-1, a key constituent of TJs, is highly increased in colon cancer and is causally associated with the tumor growth and progression. However, mechanism/s underlying regulation of claudin-1 expression in intestinal epithelial cells remains poorly understood. In our studies, we have identified putative binding sites for intestinal transcription factors Cdx1, -2 and GATA4 in the 5'-flanking region of the claudin-1 gene. Our further studies using full length and/or deletion mutant constructs in two different human colon cancer cell lines, SW480 and HCT116, showed key role of Cdx1, Cdx2 and GATA4 in the regulation of claudin-1 mRNA expression. However, overexpression of Cdx2 had the most potent effect upon claudin-1 mRNA expression and promoter activity. Also, in colon cancer patient samples, we observed a significant and parallel correlation between claudin-1 and Cdx2 expressions. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay confirmed the Cdx2 binding with claudin-1 promoter in vivo. Using Cdx2 deletion mutant constructs, we further mapped the Cdx2 C-terminus domain to be important in the regulation of claudin-1 promoter activity. Interestingly, co-expression of activated β-catenin further induced the Cdx2-dependent upregulation of claudin-1 promoter activity while expression of the dominant negative (dn)-TCF-4 abrogated this activation. Taken together, we conclude that homeodomain transcription factors Cdx1, Cdx2 and GATA4 regulate claudin-1 gene expression in human colon cancer cells. Moreover, a functional crosstalk between Wnt-signaling and transcriptional activation related to caudal-related homeobox (Cdx) proteins and GATA-proteins is demonstrated in the regulation of claudin-1 promoter-activation.