Identification of novel binding elements and gene targets for the homeodomain protein BARX2

Tracy A Stevens, Jason S Iacovoni, David B Edelman, Robyn Meech
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2004 April 9, 279 (15): 14520-30
BARX2 is a homeobox transcription factor that influences cellular differentiation in various developmental contexts. To begin to identify the gene targets that mediate its effects, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) was used to isolate BARX2 binding sites from the human MCF7 breast cancer cell line. Cloning and sequencing of BARX2-ChIP-derived DNA fragments identified 60 potential BARX2 target loci that were proximal to or within introns of genes involved in cytoskeletal organization, cell adhesion, growth factor signaling, transcriptional regulation, and RNA metabolism. The sequences of over half of the fragments showed homology with the mouse genome, and several sequences could be mapped to orthologous human and mouse genes. Binding of BARX2 to 21 genomic loci examined was confirmed quantitatively by replicate ChIP assays. A combination of sequence analysis and electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed homeodomain binding sites within several fragments that bind to BARX2 in vitro. The majority of BARX2 binding fragments tested (14/19), also affected transcription in luciferase reporter gene assays. Mutation analyses of three fragments showed that their transcriptional activities required the HBS, and suggested that BARX2 regulates gene expression by binding to DNA elements containing paired TAAT motifs that are separated by a poly(T) sequence. Inhibition of BARX2 expression in MCF7 cells led to reduced expression of eight genes associated with BARX2 binding sites, indicating that BARX2 directly regulates their expression. The data suggest that BARX2 can coordinate the expression of a network of genes that influence the growth of MCF7 cells.

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