CER1 is a common target of WNT and NODAL signaling pathways in human embryonic stem cells

Masuko Katoh, Masaru Katoh
International Journal of Molecular Medicine 2006, 17 (5): 795-9
Nodal and BMP signaling pathways network with WNT signaling pathway during embryogenesis and carcinogenesis. CER1 (Cerberus 1) and GREM3 (CKTSF1B3 or CER2) inhibit NODAL signaling through ACVR1B (ALK4) or ACVR1C (ALK7) to SMAD2 or SMAD3. GREM1 (CKTSF1B1) inhibits BMP signaling through BMPR1A (ALK3), BMPR1B (ALK6) or ACVR1 (ALK2) to SMAD1, SMAD5 or SMAD8. CER1, GREM1 and GREM3 are DAN domain (DAND) family members; however, transcriptional regulation of DAND family members by canonical WNT signaling pathway remains unclear. We searched for the TCF/LEF-binding site within the promoter region of DAND family genes, including CER1, GREM1, GREM2, GREM3 and NBL1. Because triple TCF/LEF-binding sites were identified within human CER1 promoter by using bioinformatics and human intelligence, comparative genomics analyses on CER1 orthologs were further performed. Chimpanzee CER1 gene, encoding 267-amino-acid protein, was identified within NW_111298.1 genome sequence. XM_528542.1 was not a correct coding sequence for chimpanzee CER1. Primate CER1 orthologs were significantly divergent from rodent Cer1 orthologs. Three TCF/LEF-binding sites within human CER1 promoter were conserved in chimpanzee CER1 promoter, two in cow and dog Cer1 promoters, but not in rodent Cer1 promoters. Binding sites for NODAL signaling effectors, SMAD3/SMAD4 and FOXH1, were also conserved among human, chimpanzee, cow and dog CER1 promoters. CER1 orthologs were evolutionarily conserved target of WNT and NODAL signaling pathways in non-rodent mammals. Human CER1 mRNA was expressed in embryonic stem (ES) cells in the undifferentiated state and in the early endodermal lineage. CER1 upregulation in human ES cells leads to Nodal signaling inhibition associated with differentiation of human ES cells. Primate CER1 orthologs, playing a pivotal role during early embryogenesis, underwent protein evolution as well as promoter evolution. These facts indicate that molecular evolution of CER1 orthologs contributes to the significantly divergent scenarios of early embryogenesis in primates and rodents.

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