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1.  Functional domains of the human orphan receptor ARP-1/COUP-TFII involved in active repression and transrepression. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1997;17(9):4914-4932.
The orphan receptor ARP-1/COUP-TFII, a member of the chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor (COUP-TF) subfamily of nuclear receptors, strongly represses transcriptional activity of numerous genes, including several apolipoprotein-encoding genes. Recently it has been demonstrated that the mechanism by which COUP-TFs reduce transcriptional activity involves active repression and transrepression. To map the domains of ARP-1/COUP-TFII required for repressor activity, a detailed deletion analysis of the protein was performed. Chimeric proteins in which various segments of the ARP-1/COUP-TFII carboxy terminus were fused to the GAL4 DNA binding domain were used to characterize its active repression domain. The smallest segment confering active repressor activity to a heterologous DNA binding domain was found to comprise residues 210 to 414. This domain encompasses the region of ARP-1/COUP-TFII corresponding to helices 3 to 12 in the recently published crystal structure of other members of the nuclear receptor superfamily. It includes the AF-2 AD core domain formed by helix 12 but not the hinge region, which is essential for interaction with a corepressor in the case of the thyroid hormone and retinoic acid receptor. Attachment of the nuclear localization signal from the simian virus 40 large T antigen (Flu tag) to the amino terminus of ARP-1/COUP-TFII abolished its ability to bind to DNA without affecting its repressor activity. By using a series of Flu-tagged mutants, the domains required for transrepressor activity of the protein were mapped. They include the DNA binding domain and the segment spanning residues 193 to 399. Transcriptional activity induced by liver-enriched transactivators such as hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 (HNF-3), C/EBP, or HNF-4 was repressed by ARP-1/COUP-TFII independent of the presence of its cognate binding site, while basal transcription or transcriptional activity induced by ATF or Sp1 was not perturbed by the protein. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the domains of ARP-1/COUP-TFII required for active repression and transrepression do not coincide. Moreover, they strongly suggest that transrepression is the predominant mechanism underlying repressor activity of ARP-1/COUP-TFII. This mechanism most likely involves interaction of the protein with one or several transcriptional coactivator proteins which are employed by various liver-enriched transactivators but not by ubiquitous factors such as Sp1 or ATF.
PMCID: PMC232344  PMID: 9271371
2.  Haploinsufficiency of COUP-TFII in Female Reproduction 
The chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II, COUP-TFII, is a member of the Orphan nuclear receptor transcription factor family. Genetic ablation of COUP-TFII results in early embryonic lethality and demonstrates that this gene is required for cardiac and vascular development. Expression of COUP-TFII persists throughout postnatal life in various tissues including the female reproductive tract. However, the physiological function of COUP-TFII in female reproduction has not been extensively analyzed. Here, we provide phenotypic evidences that haploinsufficiency of COUP-TFII in mice demonstrates an important role of COUP-TFII for normal female reproduction. COUP-TFII +/− females show significantly reduced fecundity, irregular estrus cycles, delayed puberty and retarded postnatal growth. Analysis of the reduced fertility revealed that although ovarian function was normal with respect to ovulation, the ovaries have reduced ability to synthesize progesterone in response to exogenous gonadotropins. This reduction is due to the reduction of the expression of steroidogenic enzymes important for P4 synthesis and the reduction of vascularization in COUP-TFII heterozygotes. Analysis of uterine function demonstrated a reduced response to an experimentally induced decidual cell reaction indicating that the ability of the uterus to support embryo implantation was reduced. Taken together, our data shows global impact of gene dosage effects of COUP-TFII on female postnatal life and indicates requirement of COUP-TFII in normal female reproduction, in particular for uterine endometrial functions during the peri-implantation period.
doi:10.1210/me.2005-0019
PMCID: PMC1198323  PMID: 15890675
3.  Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factors act as auxiliary cofactors for hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 and enhance hepatic gene expression. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1997;17(5):2790-2797.
Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factors (COUP-TFs) strongly inhibit transcriptional activation mediated by nuclear hormone receptors, including hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 (HNF-4). COUP-TFs repress HNF-4-dependent gene expression by competition with HNF-4 for common binding sites found in several regulatory regions. Here we show that promoters, such as the HNF-1 promoter, which are recognized by HNF-4 but not by COUP-TFs are activated by COUP-TFI and COUP-TFII in conjunction with HNF-4 more than 100-fold above basal levels, as opposed to about 8-fold activation by HNF-4 alone. This enhancement was strictly dependent on an intact HNF-4 E domain. In vitro and in vivo evidence suggests that COUP-TFs enhance HNF-4 activity by a mechanism that involves their physical interaction with the amino acid 227 to 271 region of HNF-4. Our results indicate that in certain promoters, COUP-TFs act as auxiliary cofactors for HNF-4, orienting the HNF-4 activation domain in a more efficient configuration to achieve enhanced transcriptional activity. These findings provide new insights into the regulatory functions of COUP-TFs, suggesting their involvement in the initial activation and subsequent high-level expression of hepatic regulators, as well as in the positive and negative modulation of downstream target genes.
PMCID: PMC232130  PMID: 9111350
4.  Essential Roles of COUP-TFII in Leydig Cell Differentiation and Male Fertility 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3285.
Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter-Transcription Factor II (COUP-TFII; also known as NR2F2), is an orphan nuclear receptor of the steroid/thyroid hormone receptor superfamily. COUP-TFII-null mice die during the early embryonic development due to angiogenesis and cardiovascular defects. To circumvent the early embryonic lethality and investigate the physiological function of COUP-TFII, we knocked out COUP-TFII gene in a time-specific manner by using a tamoxifen inducible Cre recombinase. The ablation of COUP-TFII during pre-pubertal stages of male development results in infertility, hypogonadism and spermatogenetic arrest. Homozygous adult male mutants are defective in testosterone synthesis, and administration of testosterone could largely rescue the mutant defects. Notably, the rescued results also provide the evidence that the major function of adult Leydig cell is to synthesize testosterone. Further phenotypic analysis reveals that Leydig cell differentiation is arrested at the progenitor cell stage in the testes of null mice. The failure of testosterone to resumption of Leydig cell maturation in the null mice indicates that COUP-TFII itself is essential for this process. In addition, we identify that COUP-TFII plays roles in progenitor Leydig cell formation and early testis organogenesis, as demonstrated by the ablation of COUP-TFII at E18.5. On the other hand, when COUP-TFII is deleted in the adult stage after Leydig cells are well differentiated, there are no obvious defects in reproduction and Leydig cell function. Taken together, these results indicate that COUP-TFII plays a major role in differentiation, but not the maintenance of Leydig cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003285
PMCID: PMC2553269  PMID: 18818749
5.  Involvement of COUP-TFs in Cancer Progression 
Cancers  2011;3(1):700-715.
The orphan receptors COUP-TFI and COUP-TFII are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily that play distinct and critical roles in vertebrate organogenesis, as demonstrated by loss-of-function COUP-TFI and/or COUP-TFII mutant mice. Although COUP-TFs are expressed in a wide range of tissues in adults, little is known about their functions at later stages of development or in organism homeostasis. COUP-TFs are expressed in cancer cell lines of various origins and increasing studies suggest they play roles in cell fate determination and, potentially, in cancer progression. Nevertheless, the exact roles of COUP-TFs in these processes remain unclear and even controversial. In this review, we report both in vitro and in vivo data describing known and suspected actions of COUP-TFs that suggest that these factors are involved in modification of the phenotype of cancer cells, notably of epithelial origin.
doi:10.3390/cancers3010700
PMCID: PMC3756385  PMID: 24212637
orphan nuclear receptors; COUP-TFs; cancer progression; steroid hormones; cross-talk
6.  Multiple roles of COUP-TFII in cancer initiation and progression 
Journal of molecular endocrinology  2012;49(3):R135-R148.
COUP-TFII is an orphan nuclear receptor that acts as a transcriptional activator or repressor in a cell type-dependent manner. Best characterized for its role in the regulation of angiogenesis during mouse development, COUP-TFII also plays important roles in glucose metabolism and cancer. Expression of COUP-TFII is altered in various endocrine conditions. Cell type-specific functions and the regulation of COUP-TFII expression result in its varying physiological and pathological actions in diverse systems. Evidence will be reviewed for oncogenic and tumor suppressive functions of COUP-TFII, with roles in angiogenesis, metastasis, steroidogenesis, and endocrine sensitivity of breast cancer described. The applicability of current data to our understanding of the role of COUP-TFII in cancer will be discussed.
doi:10.1530/JME-12-0144
PMCID: PMC3469769  PMID: 22966133
COUP-TFII; cancer; nuclear receptor
7.  The MODY1 Gene for Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4α and a Feedback Loop Control COUP-TFII Expression in Pancreatic Beta Cells▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(14):4588-4597.
Pancreatic islet beta cell differentiation and function are dependent upon a group of transcription factors that maintain the expression of key genes and suppress others. Knockout mice with the heterozygous deletion of the gene for chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor II (COUP-TFII) or the complete disruption of the gene for hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) in pancreatic beta cells have similar insulin secretion defects, leading us to hypothesize that there is transcriptional cross talk between these two nuclear receptors. Here, we demonstrate specific HNF4α activation of a reporter plasmid containing the COUP-TFII gene promoter region in transfected pancreatic beta cells. The stable association of the endogenous HNF4α with a region of the COUP-TFII gene promoter that contains a direct repeat 1 (DR-1) binding site was revealed by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Mutation experiments showed that this DR-1 site is essential for HNF4α transactivation of COUP-TFII. The dominant negative suppression of HNF4α function decreased endogenous COUP-TFII expression, and the specific inactivation of COUP-TFII by small interfering RNA caused HNF4α mRNA levels in 832/13 INS-1 cells to decrease. This positive regulation of HNF4α by COUP-TFII was confirmed by the adenovirus-mediated overexpression of human COUP-TFII (hCOUP-TFII), which increased HNF4α mRNA levels in 832/13 INS-1 cells and in mouse pancreatic islets. Finally, hCOUP-TFII overexpression showed that there is direct COUP-TFII autorepression, as COUP-TFII occupies the proximal DR-1 binding site of its own gene in vivo. Therefore, COUP-TFII may contribute to the control of insulin secretion through the complex HNF4α/maturity-onset diabetes of the young 1 (MODY1) transcription factor network operating in beta cells.
doi:10.1128/MCB.01191-07
PMCID: PMC2447131  PMID: 18474611
8.  COUP-TFII Mediates Progesterone Regulation of Uterine Implantation by Controlling ER Activity 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(6):e102.
Progesterone and estrogen are critical regulators of uterine receptivity. To facilitate uterine remodeling for embryo attachment, estrogen activity in the uterine epithelia is attenuated by progesterone; however, the molecular mechanism by which this occurs is poorly defined. COUP-TFII (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II; also known as NR2F2), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, is highly expressed in the uterine stroma and its expression is regulated by the progesterone–Indian hedgehog–Patched signaling axis that emanates from the epithelium. To further assess COUP-TFII uterine function, a conditional COUP-TFII knockout mouse was generated. This mutant mouse is infertile due to implantation failure, in which both embryo attachment and uterine decidualization are impaired. Using this animal model, we have identified a novel genetic pathway in which BMP2 lies downstream of COUP-TFII. Epithelial progesterone-induced Indian hedgehog regulates stromal COUP-TFII, which in turn controls BMP2 to allow decidualization to manifest in vivo. Interestingly, enhanced epithelial estrogen activity, which impedes maturation of the receptive uterus, was clearly observed in the absence of stromal-derived COUP-TFII. This finding is consistent with the notion that progesterone exerts its control of implantation through uterine epithelial-stromal cross-talk and reveals that stromal-derived COUP-TFII is an essential mediator of this complex cross-communication pathway. This finding also provides a new signaling paradigm for steroid hormone regulation in female reproductive biology, with attendant implications for furthering our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie dysregulation of hormonal signaling in such human reproductive disorders as endometriosis and endometrial cancer.
Author Summary
Pregnancy is established and maintained through a series of precisely choreographed cellular and molecular events that are controlled by two sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Both hormones exert their actions through their distinct nuclear receptors. During the peri-implantation period, estrogen activity is attenuated by progesterone to facilitate epithelial remodeling and embryo attachment, but the detailed molecular mechanism of how this process is achieved remains largely undefined. COUP-TFII (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II; also known as NR2F2), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, is highly expressed in the uterine stroma, and its expression is controlled by progesterone–Indian hedgehog–Patched signaling from the epithelium to the stroma. To assess the uterine function of COUP-TFII, uterine-specific COUP-TFII knockout mice were generated. These mutant mice are infertile due to failure of implantation. We identified a novel genetic pathway in which the epithelial Ihh regulates the stroma COUP-TFII to control BMP2 and regulates decidualization. Interestingly, enhanced epithelial estrogen activity, which impedes the maturation of receptive uterus, was clearly noted in the absence of COUP-TFII. This finding reveals that COUP-TFII plays a critical role in maintaining the balance between estrogen and progesterone activities to establish proper implantation. This finding also provides new insights into women's health care associated with uncontrolled estrogen activity, such as breast cancer and endometriosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030102
PMCID: PMC1892047  PMID: 17590085
9.  COUP-TFII Mediates Progesterone Regulation of Uterine Implantation by Controlling ER Activity 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(6):e102.
Progesterone and estrogen are critical regulators of uterine receptivity. To facilitate uterine remodeling for embryo attachment, estrogen activity in the uterine epithelia is attenuated by progesterone; however, the molecular mechanism by which this occurs is poorly defined. COUP-TFII (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II; also known as NR2F2), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, is highly expressed in the uterine stroma and its expression is regulated by the progesterone–Indian hedgehog–Patched signaling axis that emanates from the epithelium. To further assess COUP-TFII uterine function, a conditional COUP-TFII knockout mouse was generated. This mutant mouse is infertile due to implantation failure, in which both embryo attachment and uterine decidualization are impaired. Using this animal model, we have identified a novel genetic pathway in which BMP2 lies downstream of COUP-TFII. Epithelial progesterone-induced Indian hedgehog regulates stromal COUP-TFII, which in turn controls BMP2 to allow decidualization to manifest in vivo. Interestingly, enhanced epithelial estrogen activity, which impedes maturation of the receptive uterus, was clearly observed in the absence of stromal-derived COUP-TFII. This finding is consistent with the notion that progesterone exerts its control of implantation through uterine epithelial-stromal cross-talk and reveals that stromal-derived COUP-TFII is an essential mediator of this complex cross-communication pathway. This finding also provides a new signaling paradigm for steroid hormone regulation in female reproductive biology, with attendant implications for furthering our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie dysregulation of hormonal signaling in such human reproductive disorders as endometriosis and endometrial cancer.
Author Summary
Pregnancy is established and maintained through a series of precisely choreographed cellular and molecular events that are controlled by two sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Both hormones exert their actions through their distinct nuclear receptors. During the peri-implantation period, estrogen activity is attenuated by progesterone to facilitate epithelial remodeling and embryo attachment, but the detailed molecular mechanism of how this process is achieved remains largely undefined. COUP-TFII (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II; also known as NR2F2), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, is highly expressed in the uterine stroma, and its expression is controlled by progesterone–Indian hedgehog–Patched signaling from the epithelium to the stroma. To assess the uterine function of COUP-TFII, uterine-specific COUP-TFII knockout mice were generated. These mutant mice are infertile due to failure of implantation. We identified a novel genetic pathway in which the epithelial Ihh regulates the stroma COUP-TFII to control BMP2 and regulates decidualization. Interestingly, enhanced epithelial estrogen activity, which impedes the maturation of receptive uterus, was clearly noted in the absence of COUP-TFII. This finding reveals that COUP-TFII plays a critical role in maintaining the balance between estrogen and progesterone activities to establish proper implantation. This finding also provides new insights into women's health care associated with uncontrolled estrogen activity, such as breast cancer and endometriosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030102
PMCID: PMC1892047  PMID: 17590085
10.  Identification and Characterization of Nucleolin as a COUP-TFII Coactivator of Retinoic Acid Receptor β Transcription in Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38278.
Introduction
The orphan nuclear receptor COUP-TFII plays an undefined role in breast cancer. Previously we reported lower COUP-TFII expression in tamoxifen/endocrine- resistant versus sensitive breast cancer cell lines. The identification of COUP-TFII-interacting proteins will help to elucidate its mechanism of action as a transcriptional regulator in breast cancer.
Results
FLAG-affinity purification and multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) identified nucleolin among the proteins interacting with COUP-TFII in MCF-7 tamoxifen-sensitive breast cancer cells. Interaction of COUP-TFII and nucleolin was confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation of endogenous proteins in MCF-7 and T47D breast cancer cells. In vitro studies revealed that COUP-TFII interacts with the C-terminal arginine-glycine repeat (RGG) domain of nucleolin. Functional interaction between COUP-TFII and nucleolin was indicated by studies showing that siRNA knockdown of nucleolin and an oligonucleotide aptamer that targets nucleolin, AS1411, inhibited endogenous COUP-TFII-stimulated RARB2 expression in MCF-7 and T47D cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed COUP-TFII occupancy of the RARB2 promoter was increased by all-trans retinoic acid (atRA). RARβ2 regulated gene RRIG1 was increased by atRA and COUP-TFII transfection and inhibited by siCOUP-TFII. Immunohistochemical staining of breast tumor microarrays showed nuclear COUP-TFII and nucleolin staining was correlated in invasive ductal carcinomas. COUP-TFII staining correlated with ERα, SRC-1, AIB1, Pea3, MMP2, and phospho-Src and was reduced with increased tumor grade.
Conclusions
Our data indicate that nucleolin plays a coregulatory role in transcriptional regulation of the tumor suppressor RARB2 by COUP-TFII.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038278
PMCID: PMC3365040  PMID: 22693611
11.  Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II regulates uncoupling protein 3 gene transcription in Phodopus sungorus 
Background
Ucp3 is an integral protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane with a role in lipid metabolism preventing deleterious effects of fatty acids in states of high lipid oxidation. Ucp3 is expressed in brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscle and controlled by a transcription factor complex including PPARalpha, MyoD and the histone acetyltransferase p300. Several studies have demonstrated interaction of these factors with chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II (Coup-TFII). This nuclear receptor is involved in organogenesis and other developmental processes including skeletal muscle development, but also co-regulates a number of metabolic genes. In this study we in silico analyzed the upstream region of Ucp3 of the Djungarian hamster Phodopus sungorus and identified several putative response elements for Coup-TFII. We therefore investigated whether Coup-TFII is a further player in the transcriptional control of the Ucp3 gene in rodents.
Results
By quantitative PCR we demonstrated a positive correlation of Coup-TFII and Ucp3 mRNA expression in skeletal muscle and brown adipose tissue in response to food deprivation and cold exposure, respectively. In reporter gene assays Coup-TFII enhanced transactivation of the Ucp3 promoter conveyed by MyoD, PPARalpha, RXRalpha and/or p300. Using deletions and mutated constructs, we identified a Coup-TFII enhancer element 816–840 bp upstream of the transcriptional start site. Binding of Coup-TFII to this upstream enhancer was confirmed in electrophoretic mobility shift and supershift assays.
Conclusion
Transcriptional regulation of the Coup-TFII gene in response to starvation and cold exposure seems to be the regulatory mechanism of Ucp3 mRNA expression in brown adipose and skeletal muscle tissue determining the final appropriate rate of transcript synthesis. These findings add a crucial component to the complex transcriptional machinery controlling expression of Ucp3. Given the substantial evidence for a function of Ucp3 in lipid metabolism, Coup-TFII may not only be a negative regulator of glucose responsive genes but also transactivate genes involved in lipid metabolism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-1
PMCID: PMC1779797  PMID: 17204145
12.  The Nuclear Orphan Receptor COUP-TFII Is Required for Limb and Skeletal Muscle Development 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(24):10835-10843.
The nuclear orphan receptor COUP-TFII is widely expressed in multiple tissues and organs throughout embryonic development, suggesting that COUP-TFII is involved in multiple aspects of embryogenesis. Because of the early embryonic lethality of COUP-TFII knockout mice, the role of COUP-TFII during limb development has not been determined. COUP-TFII is expressed in lateral plate mesoderm of the early embryo prior to limb bud formation. In addition, COUP-TFII is also expressed in the somites and skeletal muscle precursors of the limbs. Therefore, in order to study the potential role of COUP-TFII in limb and skeletal muscle development, we bypassed the early embryonic lethality of the COUP-TFII mutant by using two methods. First, embryonic chimera analysis has revealed an obligatory role for COUP-TFII in limb bud outgrowth since mutant cells are unable to contribute to the distally growing limb mesenchyme. Second, we used a conditional-knockout approach to ablate COUP-TFII specifically in the limbs. Loss of COUP-TFII in the limbs leads to hypoplastic skeletal muscle development, as well as shorter limbs. Taken together, our results demonstrate that COUP-TFII plays an early role in limb bud outgrowth but not limb bud initiation. Also, COUP-TFII is required for appropriate development of the skeletal musculature of developing limbs.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.24.10835-10843.2004
PMCID: PMC533959  PMID: 15572686
13.  The Nuclear Orphan Receptor COUP-TFII Plays an Essential Role in Adipogenesis, Glucose Homeostasis, and Energy Metabolism 
Cell metabolism  2009;9(1):77-87.
Summary
Adipose tissue development and function play a central role in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of metabolic syndromes. Here we show that Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter Transcription Factor II (COUP-TFII) plays a pivotal role in adipogenesis and energy homeostasis. COUP-TFII is expressed in the early stages of white adipocyte (WAT) development. COUP-TFII heterozygous mice (COUP-TFII+/-) have much less WAT than wild type mice (COUP-TFII+/+). COUP-TFII+/- mice display a decreased expression of key regulators for WAT development. Knock down COUP-TFII in 3T3-L1 cells resulted in an increased expression of Wnt10b, while chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that Wnt10b is a direct target of COUP-TFII. Moreover, COUP-TFII+/− mice have increased mitochondrial biogenesis in WAT, and COUP-TFII+/− mice have improved glucose homeostasis and increased energy expenditure. Thus, COUP-TFII regulates adipogenesis by regulating the key molecules in adipocyte development, and can serve as a new target for regulating energy metabolism.
doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2008.12.002
PMCID: PMC2630393  PMID: 19117548
14.  Molecular mechanisms of COUP-TF-mediated transcriptional repression: evidence for transrepression and active repression. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1996;16(5):2332-2340.
COUP-TF, an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, has been proposed to play a key role in regulating organogenesis, neurogenesis, and cellular differentiation during embryonic development. Since heterodimierization is a common theme within the nuclear receptor superfamily and has been demonstrated to modulate transcriptional properties of heterodimeric partners via allosteric interactions, we have devised a strategy to examine the silencing function of COUP-TF in a heterodimeric context. We find that the intrinsic active repression function of COUP-TF is not affected by heterodimerization. Moreover, COUP-TF can transrepress the ligand-dependent activation of its heterodimeric partners without its own DNA binding site. Using receptor deletion mutants in transfection assays, we show that the region necessary for COUP-TF silencing function is not sufficient for its transrepression activity. Furthermore, our studies indicate that in addition to its active repression function, COUP-TF can repress several different types of activator-dependent transactivation. However, this active repression function of COUP-TF may be differentially regulated by some other activator(s). These studies provide new insights into the molecular mechanism(s) of COUP-TF-mediated repression.
PMCID: PMC231221  PMID: 8628300
15.  The Nutritional Induction of COUP-TFII Gene Expression in Ventromedial Hypothalamic Neurons Is Mediated by the Melanocortin Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13464.
Background
The nuclear receptor chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II (COUP-TFII) is an important coordinator of glucose homeostasis. We report, for the first time, a unique differential regulation of its expression by the nutritional status in the mouse hypothalamus compared to peripheral tissues.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps and insulinopenic mice, we show that insulin upregulates its expression in the hypothalamus. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrate that COUP-TFII gene expression is restricted to a subpopulation of ventromedial hypothalamic neurons expressing the melanocortin receptor. In GT1-7 hypothalamic cells, the MC4-R agonist MTII leads to a dose dependant increase of COUP-TFII gene expression secondarily to a local increase in cAMP concentrations. Transfection experiments, using a COUP-TFII promoter containing a functional cAMP responsive element, suggest a direct transcriptional activation by cAMP. Finally, we show that the fed state or intracerebroventricular injections of MTII in mice induce an increased hypothalamic COUP-TFII expression associated with a decreased hepatic and pancreatic COUP-TFII expression.
Conclusions/Significance
These observations strongly suggest that hypothalamic COUP-TFII gene expression could be a central integrator of insulin and melanocortin signaling pathway within the ventromedial hypothalamus. COUP-TFII could play a crucial role in brain integration of circulating signal of hunger and satiety involved in energy balance regulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013464
PMCID: PMC2956692  PMID: 20976162
16.  Role of COUP-TFI during Retinoic Acid-Induced Differentiation of P19 Cells to Endodermal Cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2013;228(4):791-800.
Retinoic acid (RA) is a positive regulator of P19 cell differentiation. Silencing of pre-B cell leukemia transcription factors (PBXs) expression in P19 cells (AS cells) results in a failure of these cells to differentiate to endodermal cells upon RA treatment. Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter Transcription Factor I (COUP-TFI) is an orphan member of the steroid-thyroid hormone superfamily. RA treatment of wild type P19 cells results in a dramatic increase in the expression of COUP-TFI however COUP-TFI mRNA levels fail to be elevated upon RA treatment of AS cells indicating that PBX expression is required for elevation in COUP-TFI expression. To study the role of COUP-TFI during RA-dependent differentiation of P19 cells, AS cells that inducibly express various levels of COUP-TFI were prepared. Exogenous expression of COUP-TFI in AS cells, in a dose-dependent fashion, leads to growth inhibition, modest cell cycle disruption and early apoptosis. Furthermore, AS cells can overcome the blockage in RA-dependent differentiation to endodermal cells when either pharmacological levels of COUP-TFI are expressed or a combination of both the expression of physiological levels of COUP-TFI and RA treatment. Additionally, the mRNA level of several pluripotency associated genes including OCT-4, DAX-1 and SF-1 in the COUP-TFI expressing AS cells are reduced. Moreover, analysis of the expression of primary RA response genes indicates that COUP-TFI is involved in the regulatory modulation of the expression of at least two genes, CYP26A1 and HoxA1. These studies demonstrate that COUP-TFI functions as a physiologically relevant regulator during RA-mediated endodermal differentiation of P19 cells.
doi:10.1002/jcp.24228
PMCID: PMC3657553  PMID: 23018522
COUP-TFI; COUP-TFII; retinoic acid; P19 cells
17.  Endocardial Cushion Morphogenesis and Coronary Vessel Development Require Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter-Transcription Factor II 
Objective
Septal defects and coronary vessel anomalies are common congenital heart defects, yet their ontogeny and the underlying genetic mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we investigated the role of chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor II (COUP-TFII, NR2F2) in cardiac organogenesis.
Methods and Results
We analyzed embryos deficient in COUP-TFII and observed a spectrum of cardiac defects, including atrioventricular septal defect, thin-walled myocardium, and abnormal coronary morphogenesis. We show by expression analysis that COUP-TFII is expressed in the endocardium and the epicardium but not in the myocardium of the ventricle. Using endothelial-specific COUP-TFII mutants and molecular approaches, we show that COUP-TFII deficiency resulted in endocardial cushion hypoplasia. This was attributed to the reduced growth and survival of atrioventricular cushion mesenchymal cells and defective epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) in the underlying endocardium. In addition, the endocardial EMT defect was accompanied by downregulation of Snai1, one of the master regulators of EMT, and upregulation of vascular endothelial-cadherin. Furthermore, we show that although COUP-TFII does not play a major role in the formation of epicardial cell cysts, it is critically important for the formation of epicardium. Ablation of COUP-TFII impairs epicardial EMT and coronary plexus formation.
Conclusion
Our results reveal that COUP-TFII plays cell-autonomous roles in the endocardium and the epicardium for endocardial and epicardial EMT, which are required for proper valve and coronary vessel formation during heart development.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300255
PMCID: PMC3598627  PMID: 22962329
atrioventricular septal defect; cardiac morphogenesis; chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor II; epicardium; epithelial-mesenchymal transformation
18.  Heterodimeric Interactions between Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter-Transcription Factor Family Members ARP1 and Ear2 
Members of the chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor (COUP-TF) subfamily of orphan nuclear receptors, which minimally includes COUP-TFI and ARP1, are highly expressed in brain and are generally considered to be constitutive repressors of transcription. We have used a yeast two-hybrid system to isolate proteins expressed in brain that interact with ARP1. One of the proteins isolated in this screen was Ear2, another orphan receptor that has been suggested to be a member of the COUP-TF subfamily. Here we demonstrate that ARP1 and Ear2 form heterodimers in solution and on directly repeated response elements with high efficiency and a specificity differing from that of homodimeric complexes composed of either receptor. ARP1 and Ear2 were observed to interact in mammalian cells, and the tissue distribution of Ear2 transcripts was found to overlap precisely with the expression pattern of ARP1 in several mouse tissues and embryonal carcinoma cell lines. Heterodimeric interactions between ARP1 and Ear2 may define a distinct pathway of orphan receptor signaling.
PMCID: PMC2823254  PMID: 10318855
19.  COUP-TF II homodimers are formed in preference to heterodimers with RXR alpha or TR beta in intact cells. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1995;23(20):4143-4150.
Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor (COUP-TF) represses the transcriptional activity of a number of nuclear receptors, including that of retinoid receptors (RAR and RXR) and thyroid hormone receptors (TR). Since COUP-TF is capable of binding to DNA in vitro either as a homodimer or as a heterodimer with RXR or TR, it has not been possible to distinguish between competitive DNA binding and heterodimer formation as a mechanism to account for the repression. Using a two-hybrid system we have investigated the dimerisation properties of COUP-TF II in intact cells. In conditions where COUP-TF II homodimers and RXR alpha-RAR alpha heterodimers were formed we were unable to detect the formation of heterodimers between COUP-TF II and RXR alpha. Moreover, we were unable to detect an interaction between COUP-TF II and RXR alpha on DNA. Similarly COUP-TF II homodimers and RXR alpha-TR beta heterodimers are favoured over COUP-TF II-TR beta heterodimers. We conclude that the formation of functionally inactive heterodimers is unlikely to represent a general mechanism by which COUP-TF represses the transcriptional activity of nuclear receptors and favour a model in which repression is mediated by COUP-TF homodimers competing for binding to DNA.
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PMCID: PMC307356  PMID: 7479078
20.  A dynamic balance between ARP-1/COUP-TFII, EAR-3/COUP-TFI, and retinoic acid receptor:retinoid X receptor heterodimers regulates Oct-3/4 expression in embryonal carcinoma cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(2):1034-1048.
The Oct-3/4 transcription factor is a member of the POU family of transcription factors and, as such, probably plays a crucial role in mammalian embryogenesis and differentiation. It is expressed in the earliest stages of embryogenesis and repressed in subsequent stages. Similarly, Oct-3/4 is expressed in embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells and is repressed in retinoic acid (RA)-differentiated EC cells. Previously we have shown that the Oct-3/4 promoter harbors an RA-responsive element, RAREoct, which functions in EC cells as a binding site for positive regulators of transcription and in RA-differentiated EC cells as a binding site for positive regulators of transcription and in RA-differentiated EC cells as a binding site for negative regulators. Our present results demonstrate that in P19 and RA-treated P19 cells, the orphan receptors ARP-1/COUP-TFII and EAR-3/COUP-TFI repress Oct-3/4 promoter activity through the RAREoct site in a dose-dependent manner. While the N-terminal region of the ARP-1/COUP-TFII receptor is dispensable for this repression, the C-terminal domain harbors the silencing region. Interestingly, three different RA receptor:retinoid X receptor (RAR:RXR) heterodimers, RAR alpha:RXR alpha, RAR beta:RXR alpha, and RAR beta:RXR beta, specifically bind and activate Oct-3/4 promoter through the RAREoct site in a ligand-dependent manner. We have shown that antagonism between ARP-1/COUP-TFII or EAR-3/COUP-TFI and the RAR:RXR heterodimers and their intracellular balance modulate Oct-3/4 expression. Oct-3/4 transcriptional repression by the orphan receptors can be overcome by increasing amounts of RAR:RXR heterodimers. Conversely, activation of Oct-3/4 promoter by RAR:RXR heterodimers was completely abolished by EAR-3/COUP-TFI and by ARP-1/COUP-TFII. The orphan receptors bind the RAREoct site with a much higher affinity than the RAR:RXR heterodimers. This high binding affinity provides ARP-1/COUP-TFII and EAR-3/COUP-TFI with the ability to compete with and even displace RAR:RXR from the RAREoct site and subsequently to actively silence the Oct-3/4 promoter. We have shown that RA treatment of EC cells results in up-regulation of ARP-1/COUP-TFII and EAR-3/COUP-TFI expression. Most interestingly, in RA-treated EC cells, the kinetics of Oct-3/4 repression inversely correlates with the kinetics of ARP-1/COUP-TFII and EAR-3/COUP-TFI activation. These findings are in accordance with the suggestion that these orphan receptors participate in controlling a network of transcription factors, among which Oct-3/4 is included, which may establish the pattern of normal gene expression during development.
PMCID: PMC232002  PMID: 7823919
21.  Direct transcriptional regulation of neuropilin-2 by COUP-TFII modulates multiple steps in murine lymphatic vessel development 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(5):1694-1707.
The lymphatic system plays a key role in tissue fluid homeostasis. Lymphatic dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of many human diseases, including lymphedema and tumor metastasis. However, the mechanisms regulating lymphangiogenesis remain largely unknown. Here, we show that COUP-TFII (also known as Nr2f2), an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, mediates both developmental and pathological lymphangiogenesis in mice. Conditional ablation of COUP-TFII at an early embryonic stage resulted in failed formation of pre-lymphatic ECs (pre-LECs) and lymphatic vessels. COUP-TFII deficiency at a late developmental stage resulted in loss of LEC identity, gain of blood EC fate, and impaired lymphatic vessel sprouting. siRNA-mediated downregulation of COUP-TFII in cultured primary human LECs demonstrated that the maintenance of lymphatic identity and VEGF-C–induced lymphangiogenic activity, including cell proliferation and migration, are COUP-TFII–dependent and cell-autonomous processes. COUP-TFII enhanced the pro-lymphangiogenic actions of VEGF-C, at least in part by directly stimulating expression of neuropilin-2, a coreceptor for VEGF-C. In addition, COUP-TFII inactivation in a mammary gland mouse tumor model resulted in inhibition of tumor lymphangiogenesis, suggesting that COUP-TFII also regulates neo-lymphangiogenesis in the adult. Thus, COUP-TFII is a critical factor that controls lymphangiogenesis in embryonic development and tumorigenesis in adults.
doi:10.1172/JCI40101
PMCID: PMC2860940  PMID: 20364082
22.  Proposed Role for COUP-TFII in Regulating Fetal Leydig Cell Steroidogenesis, Perturbation of Which Leads to Masculinization Disorders in Rodents 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37064.
Reproductive disorders that are common/increasing in prevalence in human males may arise because of deficient androgen production/action during a fetal ‘masculinization programming window’. We identify a potentially important role for Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter-Transcription Factor II (COUP-TFII) in Leydig cell (LC) steroidogenesis that may partly explain this. In rats, fetal LC size and intratesticular testosterone (ITT) increased ∼3-fold between e15.5-e21.5 which associated with a progressive decrease in the percentage of LC expressing COUP-TFII. Exposure of fetuses to dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which induces masculinization disorders, dose-dependently prevented the age-related decrease in LC COUP-TFII expression and the normal increases in LC size and ITT. We show that nuclear COUP-TFII expression in fetal rat LC relates inversely to LC expression of steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1)-dependent genes (StAR, Cyp11a1, Cyp17a1) with overlapping binding sites for SF-1 and COUP-TFII in their promoter regions, but does not affect an SF-1 dependent LC gene (3β-HSD) without overlapping sites. We also show that once COUP-TFII expression in LC has switched off, it is re-induced by DBP exposure, coincident with suppression of ITT. Furthermore, other treatments that reduce fetal ITT in rats (dexamethasone, diethylstilbestrol (DES)) also maintain/induce LC nuclear expression of COUP-TFII. In contrast to rats, in mice DBP neither causes persistence of fetal LC COUP-TFII nor reduces ITT, whereas DES-exposure of mice maintains COUP-TFII expression in fetal LC and decreases ITT, as in rats. These findings suggest that lifting of repression by COUP-TFII may be an important mechanism that promotes increased testosterone production by fetal LC to drive masculinization. As we also show an age-related decline in expression of COUP-TFII in human fetal LC, this mechanism may also be functional in humans, and its susceptibility to disruption by environmental chemicals, stress and pregnancy hormones could explain the origin of some human male reproductive disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037064
PMCID: PMC3355148  PMID: 22615892
23.  The orphan nuclear receptor, COUP-TF II, inhibits myogenesis by post-transcriptional regulation of MyoD function: COUP-TF II directly interacts with p300 and myoD. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(23):5501-5510.
COUP-TF II is an orphan nuclear receptor that has no known ligand in the 'classical sense'. COUP-TF interacts with the corepressors N-CoR, SMRT and RIP13, and silences transcription by active repression and trans-repression. Forced expression of the orphan nuclear receptor COUP-TF II in mouse C2 myogenic cells has been demonstrated to inhibit morphological differentiation, and to repress the expression of: (i) the myoD gene family which encodes myogenic basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins; and (ii) the cell cycle regulator, p21(Waf-1/Cip-1). In the present study, we show that COUP-TF II efficiently inhibits the myoD -mediated myogenic conversion of pluripotential C3H10T1/2 cells by post-transcriptional mechanisms. Furthermore, repression of MyoD-dependent transcription by COUP-TF II occurs in the absence of the nuclear receptor cognate binding motif. The inhibition of MyoD-mediated trans-activation involves the direct binding of the DNA binding domain/C-region and hinge/D-regions [i.e. amino acid (aa) residues 78-213] of COUP-TF II to the N-terminal activation domain of MyoD. Over-expression of the cofactor p300, which functions as a coactivator of myoD-mediated transcription, alleviated repression by COUP-TF II. Further binding analysis demonstrated that COUP-TF II interacted with the N-terminal 149 aa residues of p300 which encoded the receptor interaction domain of the coactivator. Finally we observed that COUP-TF II, MyoD and p300 interact in a competitive manner, and that increasing amounts of COUP-TF II have the ability to reduce the interaction between myoD and p300 invitro. The experiments presented herein suggest thatCOUP-TF II post-transcriptionally regulates myoD activity/function, and that crosstalk between orphan nuclear receptors and the myogenic bHLH proteins has functional consequences for differentiation.
PMCID: PMC147985  PMID: 9826778
24.  CoupTFI Interacts with Retinoic Acid Signaling during Cortical Development 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58219.
We examined the role of the orphan nuclear hormone receptor CoupTFI in mediating cortical development downstream of meningeal retinoic acid signaling. CoupTFI is a regulator of cortical development known to collaborate with retinoic acid (RA) signaling in other systems. To examine the interaction of CoupTFI and cortical RA signaling we utilized Foxc1-mutant mice in which defects in meningeal development lead to alterations in cortical development due to a reduction of RA signaling. By analyzing CoupTFI−/−;Foxc1H/L double mutant mice we provide evidence that CoupTFI is required for RA rescue of the ventricular zone and the neurogenic phenotypes in Foxc1-mutants. We also found that overexpression of CoupTFI in Foxc1-mutants is sufficient to rescue the Foxc1-mutant cortical phenotype in part. These results suggest that CoupTFI collaborates with RA signaling to regulate both cortical ventricular zone progenitor cell behavior and cortical neurogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058219
PMCID: PMC3589372  PMID: 23472160
25.  Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor binds to a negative regulatory region in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 long terminal repeat. 
Journal of Virology  1991;65(6):2853-2860.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) long terminal repeat (LTR) contains a negative regulatory element (NRE) which downregulates the rate of LTR-directed transcription and HIV-1 replication. Within the NRE is a GGTCA palindrome, which binds a possible member of the steroid/thyroid hormone receptor superfamily. Mutation of this site leads to an increase in LTR-directed transcriptional activity compared with the wild type, consistent with the element's being a functional part of the NRE. The palindrome contains significant identity to the chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter (COUP) element to which COUP transcription factors (COUP-TFs), members of the steroid/thyroid hormone receptor superfamily, bind. We demonstrate here that human COUP-TFs can bind specifically to this HIV-1 COUP-like element in a manner identical to binding to ovalbumin COUP. We show that the predominant COUP-TF family member synthesized in T cells is the 68-kDa form, which is likely to be responsible for any in vivo function of the HIV-1 COUP-like element in these cells. Finally, we have identified three HIV-1 variant strains that contain mutations in the HIV-1 COUP-like element which affect the binding affinity of COUP-TF for these variant COUP elements.
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PMCID: PMC240909  PMID: 2033658

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