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1.  Expression profiling and pathway analysis of Krüppel-like factor 4 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts 
Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a zinc-finger transcription factor with diverse regulatory functions in proliferation, differentiation, and development. KLF4 also plays a role in inflammation, tumorigenesis, and reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. To gain insight into the mechanisms by which KLF4 regulates these processes, we conducted DNA microarray analyses to identify differentially expressed genes in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) wild type and null for Klf4.
Expression profiles of fibroblasts isolated from mouse embryos wild type or null for the Klf4 alleles were examined by DNA microarrays. Differentially expressed genes were subjected to the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID). The microarray data were also interrogated with the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) for pathway identification. Results obtained from the microarray analysis were confirmed by Western blotting for select genes with biological relevance to determine the correlation between mRNA and protein levels.
One hundred and sixty three up-regulated and 88 down-regulated genes were identified that demonstrated a fold-change of at least 1.5 and a P-value < 0.05 in Klf4-null MEFs compared to wild type MEFs. Many of the up-regulated genes in Klf4-null MEFs encode proto-oncogenes, growth factors, extracellular matrix, and cell cycle activators. In contrast, genes encoding tumor suppressors and those involved in JAK-STAT signaling pathways are down-regulated in Klf4-null MEFs. IPA and GSEA also identified various pathways that are regulated by KLF4. Lastly, Western blotting of select target genes confirmed the changes revealed by microarray data.
These data are not only consistent with previous functional studies of KLF4’s role in tumor suppression and somatic cell reprogramming, but also revealed novel target genes that mediate KLF4’s functions.
PMCID: PMC3165197  PMID: 21892412
KLF4; microarray; MEF; DAVID; GSEA; IPA; SAM; FDR
2.  Krüppel-like factor 4 regulates genetic stability in mouse embryonic fibroblasts 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:89.
Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a member of the KLF family of transcription factors and regulates proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and somatic cell reprogramming. Evidence also suggests that KLF4 is a tumor suppressor in certain cancers including colorectal cancer. We previously showed that KLF4 inhibits cell cycle progression following DNA damage and that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) null for Klf4 are genetically unstable, as evidenced by increased rates of cell proliferation, and the presence of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs), centrosome amplification, chromosome aberrations and aneuploidy.
To determine whether re-expression of Klf4 corrects the observed genetic instability in MEFs null for Klf4 (Klf4−/−), we transfected Klf4−/−MEFs with Klf4-expressing plasmids and compared the results to wild type (Klf4+/+) and untransfected or mock-transfected Klf4−/−MEFs.
We show that overexpression of Klf4 in Klf4−/−MEFs reduced cell proliferation rates and the proportion of cells with DSBs, abnormal centrosome numbers, aneuploidy and micronuclei. In addition, Klf4-transfected Klf4−/−MEFs exhibited a more robust DNA damage repair response as demonstrated by the greater rate in disappearance of γ-H2AX and 53BP1 foci following γ-irradiation.
Taken together these findings provide evidence that KLF4 plays a crucial role in the maintenance of genetic stability by modulating the DNA damage response and repair processes.
PMCID: PMC3750599  PMID: 23919723
KLF4; Genetic instability; DNA damage responses; Aneuploidy; Centrosome amplification; Mouse embryonic fibroblasts
3.  Mouse embryonic fibroblasts null for the Krüppel-like factor 4 gene are genetically unstable 
Oncogene  2009;28(9):1197-1205.
Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a zinc-finger transcription factor with tumor suppressive activity in colorectal cancer. Here, we investigated whether KLF4 is involved in maintaining genetic stability in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) isolated from mice wild type (+/+), heterozygous (+/−), or homozygous (−/−) for the Klf4 alleles. Compared to Klf4+/+ and Klf4+/− MEFs, Klf4−/− MEFs had both a higher level of apoptosis and rate of proliferation. Quantification of chromosome numbers showed that Klf4−/− MEFs were aneuploid. A higher number of Klf4−/− MEFs exhibited γ-H2AX foci and had higher amounts of γ-H2AX compared to controls. Cytogenetic analysis demonstrated the presence of numerous chromosome aberrations including dicentric chromosomes, chromatid breaks, and double minute chromosomes in Klf4−/− cells but in few, if any, Klf4+/+ or Klf4+/− MEFs. Approximately 25% of Klf4−/− MEFs exhibited centrosome amplification in contrast to the less than 5% of Klf4+/+ or Klf4+/− MEFs. Finally, only Klf4−/− MEFs were capable of anchorage-independent growth. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that MEFs null for the Klf4 alleles are genetically unstable, as evidenced by the presence of aneuploidy, chromosome aberration and centrosome amplification. The results support a crucial role for KLF4 in maintaining genetic stability and as a tumor suppressor.
PMCID: PMC2667867  PMID: 19137014
aneuploidy; centrosome amplification; cell cycle; chromosome aberrations; γ-H2AX; KLF4
4.  Generation of Mice Deficient in both KLF3/BKLF and KLF8 Reveals a Genetic Interaction and a Role for These Factors in Embryonic Globin Gene Silencing 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(15):2976-2987.
Krüppel-like factors 3 and 8 (KLF3 and KLF8) are highly related transcriptional regulators that bind to similar sequences of DNA. We have previously shown that in erythroid cells there is a regulatory hierarchy within the KLF family, whereby KLF1 drives the expression of both the Klf3 and Klf8 genes and KLF3 in turn represses Klf8 expression. While the erythroid roles of KLF1 and KLF3 have been explored, the contribution of KLF8 to this regulatory network has been unknown. To investigate this, we have generated a mouse model with disrupted KLF8 expression. While these mice are viable, albeit with a reduced life span, mice lacking both KLF3 and KLF8 die at around embryonic day 14.5 (E14.5), indicative of a genetic interaction between these two factors. In the fetal liver, Klf3 Klf8 double mutant embryos exhibit greater dysregulation of gene expression than either of the two single mutants. In particular, we observe derepression of embryonic, but not adult, globin expression. Taken together, these results suggest that KLF3 and KLF8 have overlapping roles in vivo and participate in the silencing of embryonic globin expression during development.
PMCID: PMC3719677  PMID: 23716600
5.  Krüppel-like Factor 4, a “Pluripotency Transcription Factor” Highly Expressed in Male Postmeiotic Germ Cells, Is Dispensable for Spermatogenesis in the Mouse 
Mechanisms of development  2009;126(8-9):650-664.
Krüppel-like factor 4 (Klf4, GKLF) was originally characterized as a zinc finger transcription factor essential for terminal differentiation and cell lineage allocation of several cell types in the mouse. Mice lacking Klf4 die postnatally within hours due to impaired skin barrier function and subsequent dehydration. Recently, KLF4 was also used in cooperation with other transcription factors to reprogram differentiated cells to pluripotent embryonic stem cell-like cells. Moreover, involvement in oncogenesis was also ascribed to KLF4, which is aberrantly expressed in some types of tumors such as breast, gastric and colon cancer. We previously have shown that Klf4 is strongly expressed in postmeiotic germ cells of mouse and human testes suggesting a role for Klf4 also during spermiogenesis. In order to analyze its function we deleted Klf4 in germ cells using the Cre-loxP system. Homologous recombination of the Klf4 locus has been confirmed by genomic southern blotting and the absence of the protein in germ cells was demonstrated by western blotting and immunofluorescence. Despite its important roles in several significant biological settings, deletion of Klf4 in germ cells did not impair spermiogenesis. Histologically, the mutant testes appeared normal and the mice were fertile. In order to identify genes that were regulated by KLF4 in male germ cells we performed microarray analyses using a whole genome array. We identified many genes exhibiting changed expression in mutants even including the telomerase reverse transcriptase mRNA, which is a stem cell marker. However, in summary, the lack of KLF4 alone does not prevent complete spermatogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2744153  PMID: 19539755
Krüppel-like factor 4; testis; spermiogenesis; spermatogenesis; germ cell; Cre-loxP; mouse
6.  The Krüppel-like factor 9 (KLF9) network in HEC-1-A endometrial carcinoma cells suggests the carcinogenic potential of dys-regulated KLF9 expression 
Krüppel-like factor 9 (KLF9) is a transcriptional regulator of uterine endometrial cell proliferation, adhesion and differentiation; processes essential for pregnancy success and which are subverted during tumorigenesis. The network of endometrial genes controlled by KLF9 is largely unknown. Over-expression of KLF9 in the human endometrial cancer cell line HEC-1-A alters cell morphology, proliferative indices, and differentiation, when compared to KLF9 under-expressing HEC-1-A cells. This cell line provides a unique model for identifying KLF9 downstream gene targets and signaling pathways.
HEC-1-A sub-lines differing in relative levels of KLF9 were subjected to microarray analysis to identify differentially-regulated RNAs.
KLF9 under-expression induced twenty four genes. The KLF9-suppressed mRNAs encode protein participants in: aldehyde metabolism (AKR7A2, ALDH1A1); regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and cell motility (e.g., ANK3, ITGB8); cellular detoxification (SULT1A1, ABCC4); cellular signaling (e.g., ACBD3, FZD5, RAB25, CALB1); and transcriptional regulation (PAX2, STAT1). Sixty mRNAs were more abundant in KLF9 over-expressing sub-lines. The KLF9-induced mRNAs encode proteins which participate in: regulation and function of the actin cytoskeleton (COTL1, FSCN1, FXYD5, MYO10); cell adhesion, extracellular matrix and basement membrane formation (e.g., AMIGO2, COL4A1, COL4A2, LAMC2, NID2); transport (CLIC4); cellular signaling (e.g., BCAR3, MAPKAPK3); transcriptional regulation [e.g., KLF4, NR3C1 (glucocorticoid receptor), RXRα], growth factor/cytokine actions (SLPI, BDNF); and membrane-associated proteins and receptors (e.g., CXCR4, PTCH1). In addition, the abundance of mRNAs that encode hypothetical proteins (KLF9-inhibited: C12orf29 and C1orf186; KLF9-induced: C10orf38 and C9orf167) were altered by KLF9 expression. Human endometrial tumors of high tumor grade had decreased KLF9 mRNA abundance.
KLF9 influences the expression of uterine epithelial genes through mechanisms likely involving its transcriptional activator and repressor functions and which may underlie altered tumor biology with aberrant KLF9 expression.
PMCID: PMC2542371  PMID: 18783612
7.  Opposing effects of Krüppel-like factor 4 (gut-enriched Krüppel-like factor) and Krüppel-like factor 5 (intestinal-enriched Krüppel-like factor) on the promoter of the Krüppel-like factor 4 gene 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(13):2736-2741.
KLF4 (Krüppel-like factor 4 or gut-enriched Krüppel-like factor, GKLF) and KLF5 (Krüppel-like factor 5 or intestinal-enriched Krüppel-like factor, IKLF) are two closely related members of the zinc finger-containing Krüppel-like factor family of transcription factors. Although both genes are expressed in the intestinal epithelium, their distributions are different: Klf4 is primarily expressed in the terminally differentiated villus cells while Klf5 is primarily in the proliferating crypt cells. Previous studies show that Klf4 is a negative regulator of cell proliferation and Klf5 is a positive regulator of cell proliferation. In this study, we demonstrate that Klf5 binds to a number of cis-DNA elements that have previously been shown to bind to Klf4. However, while Klf4 activates the promoter of its own gene, Klf5 suppresses the Klf4 promoter. Moreover, Klf5 abrogates the activating effect of Klf4 on the Klf4 promoter and Klf4 abrogates the inhibitory effect of Klf5 on the same promoter. An explanation of this competing effect is due to physical competition of the two proteins for binding to cognate DNA sequence. The complementary tissue localization of expression of Klf4 and Klf5 and the opposing effect of the two Klfs on the Klf4 promoter activity may provide a basis for the coordinated regulation of expression of the Klf4 gene in the intestinal epithelium.
PMCID: PMC117055  PMID: 12087155
8.  Role of Krüppel-like factor 4 in normal homeostasis, cancer, and stem cells 
Krüppel-like factor 4 is a zinc finger-type transcription factor expressed in a variety of tissues, including the epithelium of intestine and the skin, where it is important in differentiation and cell cycle arrest. KLF4 can both activate and repress transcription, depending on the gene targeted. Moreover, KLF4 can function as a tumor suppressor or an oncogene, depending on the cellular context. Finally, KLF4 is important in reprogramming differentiated fibroblasts into inducible pluripotent stem cells, which highly resemble embryonic stem cells. This review will summarize what is known about the diverse functions of KLF4, as well as their molecular mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2668950  PMID: 18604447
Krüppel-like factor 4; colorectal cancer; stem cell
9.  Identification of Candidate KLF4 Target Genes Reveals the Molecular Basis of the Diverse Regulatory Roles of KLF4 in the Mouse Cornea 
Krüppel-like factor KLF4 plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of the mouse cornea. Here, we have compared the wild type (WT) and Klf4-conditional null (Klf4CN) corneal gene expression patterns to understand the molecular basis of the Klf4CN corneal phenotype.
Expression of more than 22,000 genes in 10 WT and Klf4CN corneas was compared by microarrays, analyzed using BRB ArrayTools and validated by Q-RT-PCR. Transient cotransfections were employed to test if KLF4 activates the aquaporin-3, Aldh3a1 and TKT promoters.
Scatter plot analysis identified 740 and 529 genes up- and down-regulated by more than 2-fold, respectively, in the Klf4CN corneas. Cell cycle activators were upregulated while the inhibitors were downregulated, consistent with the increased Klf4CN corneal epithelial cell proliferation. Desmosomal components were downregulated, consistent with the Klf4CN corneal epithelial fragility. Downregulation of aquaporin-3, detected by microarray, was confirmed by immunoblot and immunohistochemistry. Aquaporin-3 promoter activity was stimulated 7–10 fold by cotransfection with pCI-KLF4. Corneal crystallins Aldh3A1 and TKT were downregulated in the Klf4CN cornea and their respective promoter activities were upregulated 16- and 9-fold by pCI-KLF4 in co-transfections. Expression of epidermal keratinocyte differentiation markers was affected in the Klf4CN cornea. While the cornea specific keratin-12 was downregulated, most other keratins were upregulated, suggesting hyperkeratosis.
We have identified functionally diverse candidate KLF4 target genes, revealing the molecular basis of the diverse aspects of the Klf4CN corneal phenotype. These results establish KLF4 as an important node in the genetic network of transcription factors regulating the corneal homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2774783  PMID: 18469187
Cornea; Development; KLF4; Microarray
10.  Krüppel-like Factor 2 Regulated Gene Expression in Mouse Embryonic Yolk Sac Erythroid Cells 
KLF2 is a Krüppel-like zinc-finger transcription factor required for blood vessel, lung, T-cell and erythroid development. KLF2-/- mice die by embryonic day 14.5 (E14.5), due to hemorrhaging and heart failure. In KLF2-/- embryos, β-like globin gene expression is reduced, and E10.5 erythroid cells exhibit abnormal morphology. In this study, other genes regulated by KLF2 were identified by comparing E9.5 KLF2-/- and wild-type (WT) yolk sac erythroid precursor cells, using laser capture microdissection and microarray assays. One hundred and ninety-six genes exhibited significant differences in expression between KLF2-/- and WT; eighty-nine of these are downregulated in KLF2-/-. Genes involved in cell migration, differentiation and development are over-represented in the KLF2-regulated gene list. The SOX2 gene, encoding a pluripotency factor, is regulated by KLF2 in both ES and embryonic erythroid cells. Previous work had identified genes with erythroid-enriched expression in the yolk sac. The erythroid-enriched genes reelin, adenylate cyclase 7, cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 2 alpha, and CD24a antigen are downregulated in KLF2-/- compared to WT, and are therefore candidates for controlling primitive erythropoiesis. Each of these genes contains a putative KLF2 binding site(s) in its promoter and/or an intron. Reelin has an established role in neuronal development. Luciferase reporter assays demonstrated that KLF2 directly transactivates the reelin promoter in erythroid cells, validating this approach to identify KLF2 target genes.
PMCID: PMC3150518  PMID: 21530336
yolk sac; embryonic erythropoiesis; KLF2; expression profiling; laser capture microdissection
11.  Krüppel-Like Factor 1 (KLF1), KLF2, and Myc Control a Regulatory Network Essential for Embryonic Erythropoiesis 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(13):2628-2644.
The Krüppel-like factor 1 (KLF1) and KLF2 positively regulate embryonic β-globin expression and have additional overlapping roles in embryonic (primitive) erythropoiesis. KLF1−/− KLF2−/− double knockout mice are anemic at embryonic day 10.5 (E10.5) and die by E11.5, in contrast to single knockouts. To investigate the combined roles of KLF1 and KLF2 in primitive erythropoiesis, expression profiling of E9.5 erythroid cells was performed. A limited number of genes had a significantly decreasing trend of expression in wild-type, KLF1−/−, and KLF1−/− KLF2−/− mice. Among these, the gene for Myc (c-Myc) emerged as a central node in the most significant gene network. The expression of the Myc gene is synergistically regulated by KLF1 and KLF2, and both factors bind the Myc promoters. To characterize the role of Myc in primitive erythropoiesis, ablation was performed specifically in mouse embryonic proerythroblast cells. After E9.5, these embryos exhibit an arrest in the normal expansion of circulating red cells and develop anemia, analogous to KLF1−/− KLF2−/− embryos. In the absence of Myc, circulating erythroid cells do not show the normal increase in α- and β-like globin gene expression but, interestingly, have accelerated erythroid cell maturation between E9.5 and E11.5. This study reveals a novel regulatory network by which KLF1 and KLF2 regulate Myc to control the primitive erythropoietic program.
PMCID: PMC3434496  PMID: 22566683
12.  Targeted Disruption of the Basic Krüppel-Like Factor Gene (Klf3) Reveals a Role in Adipogenesis ▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(12):3967-3978.
Krüppel-like factors (KLFs) recognize CACCC and GC-rich sequences in gene regulatory elements. Here, we describe the disruption of the murine basic Krüppel-like factor gene (Bklf or Klf3). Klf3 knockout mice have less white adipose tissue, and their fat pads contain smaller and fewer cells. Adipocyte differentiation is altered in murine embryonic fibroblasts from Klf3 knockouts. Klf3 expression was studied in the 3T3-L1 cellular system. Adipocyte differentiation is accompanied by a decline in Klf3 expression, and forced overexpression of Klf3 blocks 3T3-L1 differentiation. Klf3 represses transcription by recruiting C-terminal binding protein (CtBP) corepressors. CtBPs bind NADH and may function as metabolic sensors. A Klf3 mutant that does not bind CtBP cannot block adipogenesis. Other KLFs, Klf2, Klf5, and Klf15, also regulate adipogenesis, and functional CACCC elements occur in key adipogenic genes, including in the C/ebpα promoter. We find that C/ebpα is derepressed in Klf3 and Ctbp knockout fibroblasts and adipocytes from Klf3 knockout mice. Chromatin immunoprecipitations confirm that Klf3 binds the C/ebpα promoter in vivo. These results implicate Klf3 and CtBP in controlling adipogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2423134  PMID: 18391014
13.  Direct targets of Klf5 transcription factor contribute to the maintenance of mouse embryonic stem cell undifferentiated state 
BMC Biology  2010;8:128.
A growing body of evidence has shown that Krüppel-like transcription factors play a crucial role in maintaining embryonic stem cell (ESC) pluripotency and in governing ESC fate decisions. Krüppel-like factor 5 (Klf5) appears to play a critical role in these processes, but detailed knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of this function is still not completely addressed.
By combining genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation and microarray analysis, we have identified 161 putative primary targets of Klf5 in ESCs. We address three main points: (1) the relevance of the pathways governed by Klf5, demonstrating that suppression or constitutive expression of single Klf5 targets robustly affect the ESC undifferentiated phenotype; (2) the specificity of Klf5 compared to factors belonging to the same family, demonstrating that many Klf5 targets are not regulated by Klf2 and Klf4; and (3) the specificity of Klf5 function in ESCs, demonstrated by the significant differences between Klf5 targets in ESCs compared to adult cells, such as keratinocytes.
Taken together, these results, through the definition of a detailed list of Klf5 transcriptional targets in mouse ESCs, support the important and specific functional role of Klf5 in the maintenance of the undifferentiated ESC phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2955566  PMID: 20875108
14.  Notch Inhibits Expression of the Krüppel-Like Factor 4 Tumor Suppressor in the Intestinal Epithelium 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2008;6(12):1920-1927.
The zinc finger-containing transcription factor, Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4), inhibits cell proliferation. An in vivo tumor suppressive role for KLF4 is demonstrated by the recent finding that Klf4 haploinsufficiency in ApcMin/+ mice promotes intestinal tumorigenesis. Studies also show that KLF4 is required for the terminal differentiation of goblet cells in the mouse intestine. The Notch signaling pathway suppresses goblet cell formation and is up-regulated in intestinal tumors. Here we investigated the relationship between Notch signaling and KLF4 expression in intestinal epithelial cells. The rate of proliferation of HT29 human colon cancer cells was reduced when treated with the γ-secretase inhibitor dibenzazepine (DBZ) to inhibit Notch or siRNA directed against Notch. KLF4 levels were increased in DBZ- or Notch siRNA-treated cells. Conversely, over-expression of Notch in HT29 cells reduced KLF4 levels, suppressed KLF4 promoter activity and increased proliferation rate. Treatment of ApcMin/+ mice with DBZ resulted in a 50% reduction in the number of intestinal adenomas compared to the vehicle-treated group (p < 0.001). Both the normal-appearing intestinal mucosa and adenomas obtained from DBZ-treated ApcMin/+ mice had increased goblet cell numbers and Klf4 staining accompanied by reduced cyclin D1 and Ki67 staining when compared to those from vehicle-treated mice. Results of these studies indicate that Notch signaling suppresses KLF4 expression in intestinal tumors and colorectal cancer cells. Inhibition of Notch signaling increases KLF4 expression and goblet cell differentiation, and reduces proliferation and tumor formation. KLF4 is therefore a potential mediator for the anti-tumor effect of Notch inhibitors such as DBZ.
PMCID: PMC2628949  PMID: 19074836
KLF4; goblet cells; γ-secretase inhibitor; ApcMin/+ mouse; adenomas
15.  Embryonic Expression of the Chicken Krüppel-like (KLF) Transcription Factor Gene Family 
The Krüppel-like transcription factors are zinc finger proteins that activate and suppress target gene transcription. Although KLF factors have been implicated in regulating many developmental processes, a comprehensive gene expression analysis has not been reported. Here we present the chicken KLF gene family and expression during the first five days of embryonic development. Fourteen chicken KLF genes or expressed sequences have been previously identified. Through synteny analysis and cDNA mapping we have identified the KLF9 gene and determined that the gene presently named KLF1 is the true ortholog of KLF17 in other species. In situ hybridization expression analyses show that in general KLFs are broadly expressed in multiple cell and tissue types. Expression of KLFs 3, 7, 8, and 9, is widespread at all stages examined. KLFs 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 15 and 17 show more restricted patterns that suggest multiple functions during early stages of embryonic development.
PMCID: PMC2925473  PMID: 20503383
Chicken Embryo; In Situ Hybridization; Krüppel-like factor; KLF
16.  Expression of the Tumor Suppressor Krüppel-Like Factor 4 as a Prognostic Predictor for Colon Cancer 
The zinc finger transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) regulates numerous physiologic processes including proliferation, differentiation, and development. Studies also showed that KLF4 is involved in tumorigenesis and somatic cell reprogramming. Here we aimed to assess whether KLF4 is a prognostic indicator for colon cancer.
Levels of KLF4 were measured by immunohistochemical analysis of a tissue microarray containing 367 independent colon cancer sections. Univariate data analysis was performed in addition to construction of multivariate models with several clinicopathologic factors to evaluate KLF4 as an independent predictor of survival and cancer recurrence (disease-free survival).
Colon cancer tissues had significantly overall lower KLF4 levels compared to non-cancer tissues (P < 0.0001). Using logistic regression, a trend was noted for decreased odds of KLF4 expression in higher stages of tumors. In both univariate and multivariate analyses, KLF4 was a significant predictor of survival and recurrence.
KLF4 expression is significantly down-regulated in colon cancer and loss of KLF4 is an independent predictor of survival and recurrence.
These findings suggest that KLF4 may serve as a prognostic biomarker for colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC2952064  PMID: 20699379
KLF4; Colon Cancer; Tissue microarray; Survival; Recurrence
17.  Transcriptional Profiling of Krüppel-like Factor 4 Reveals a Function in Cell Cycle Regulation and Epithelial Differentiation 
Journal of molecular biology  2003;326(3):665-677.
Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is an epithelially enriched, zinc finger-containing transcription factor, the expression of which is associated with growth arrest. Constitutive expression of KLF4 inhibits G1/S transition of the cell cycle but the manner by which it accomplishes this effect is unclear. To better understand the biochemical function of KLF4, we identified its target genes using cDNA microarray analysis in an established human cell line containing inducible KLF4. RNA extracted from induced and control cells were hybridized differentially to microarray chips containing 9600 human cDNAs. In all, 84 genes with significantly increased expression and 107 genes with significantly reduced expression due to KLF4 induction were identified. The affected genes are sorted to several clusters on the basis of functional relatedness. A major cluster belongs to genes involved in cell-cycle control. Within this cluster, many up-regulated genes are inhibitors of the cell cycle and down-regulated genes are promoters of the cell cycle. Another up-regulated gene cluster includes nine keratin genes, of which seven are located in a specific region on chromosome 12. The results indicate that KLF4 is involved in the control of cell proliferation and does so by eliciting changes in expression of numerous cell-cycle regulatory genes in a concerted manner. Furthermore, KLF4 regulates expression of a group of epithelial-specific keratin genes in a manner consistent with a potential locus control region function.
PMCID: PMC2693487  PMID: 12581631
KLF4; cDNA microarray; transcriptional profiling; cell cycle; epithelial differentiation
18.  Krüppel-Like Factor 5 Mediates Transmissible Murine Colonic Hyperplasia Caused by Citrobacter rodentium Infection 
Gastroenterology  2008;134(4):1007-1016.
Background & Aims
Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) is a transcription factor that is highly expressed in proliferating crypt cells of the intestinal epithelium. KLF5 has a pro-proliferative effect in vitro and is induced by mitogenic and stress stimuli. To determine whether KLF5 is involved in mediating proliferative responses to intestinal stressors in vivo, we examined its function in a mouse model of transmissible murine colonic hyperplasia (TMCH), which is triggered by colonization of the mouse colon by the bacterial pathogen, Citrobacter rodentium.
Heterozygous Klf5 knockout (Klf5+/−) mice were generated from embryonic stem cells carrying an insertional disruption of the Klf5 gene. Klf5+/− mice or wild-type (WT) littermates were infected with C. rodentium by oral gavage. At various time points post-infection (p.i.), mice were sacrificed and distal colons harvested. Colonic crypt heights were determined morphometrically from sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Frozen tissues were stained by immunofluorescence using antibodies against Klf5 and the proliferation marker, Ki67, to determine Klf5 expression and numbers of proliferating cells per crypt.
Infection of WT mice with C. rodentium resulted in a 2-fold increase in colonic crypt heights at 14 days p.i. and was accompanied by a 1.7-fold increase in Klf5 expression. Infection of Klf5+/− mice showed an attenuated induction of Klf5 expression, and hyperproliferative responses to C. rodentium were reduced in the Klf5+/− animals as compared to WT littermates.
Our study demonstrates that Klf5 is a key mediator of crypt cell proliferation in the colon in response to pathogenic bacterial infection.
PMCID: PMC2336106  PMID: 18395082
19.  Functional study of transcription factor KLF11 by targeted gene inactivation 
Sp1/Krüppel-like factor (KLF) family of transcription factors regulates diverse biological processes including cell growth, differentiation, and development through modulation of gene expression. This family of factors regulates transcription positively and negatively by binding to the GC and GT/CACCC boxes in the promoter through their highly conserved three zinc finger domains. Although the molecular mechanism of gene regulation by this family of proteins has been well studied, their exact role in growth and development in vivo remains largely unknown. KLF11 has been implicated in the regulation of cell growth and gene expression. To determine the physiological function of KLF11, we generated KLF11-null mice by gene-targeting technology. Homologous KLF11−/− mice were bred normally and were fertile. Hematopoiesis at all stages of development was normal in the KLF11−/− mice. There was no effect on globin gene expression. These mice lived as long as the wild-type mice without evident pathological defects. Thus, despite its cell growth inhibition and transcriptional regulation functions observed when transiently or stably expressed in cultured cells in vitro, the results from genetic knockout suggest that KLF11 is not absolutely required for hematopoiesis, growth, and development.
PMCID: PMC2808415  PMID: 15607700
Sp1/Krüppel-like factor; KLF11; Targeted gene inactivation
20.  A New Family of Predicted Krüppel-Like Factor Genes and Pseudogenes in Placental Mammals 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81109.
Krüppel-like factors (KLF) and specificity proteins (SP) constitute a family of zinc-finger-containing transcription factors that play important roles in a wide range of processes including differentiation and development of various tissues. The human genome possesses 17 KLF genes (KLF1–KLF17) and nine SP genes (SP1–SP9) with diverse functions. We used sequence similarity searches and gene synteny analysis to identify a new putative KLF gene/pseudogene named KLF18 that is present in most of the placental mammals with sequenced genomes. KLF18 is a chromosomal neighbor of the KLF17 gene and is likely a product of its duplication. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that mammalian predicted KLF18 proteins and KLF17 proteins experienced elevated rates of evolution and are grouped with KLF1/KLF2/KLF4 and non-mammalian KLF17. Predicted KLF18 proteins maintain conserved features in the zinc fingers of the SP/KLF family, while possessing repeats of a unique sequence motif in their N-terminal regions. No expression data have been reported for KLF18, suggesting that it either has highly restricted expression patterns and specialized functions, or could have become a pseudogene in extant placental mammals. Besides KLF18 genes/pseudogenes, we identified several KLF18-like genes such as Zfp352, Zfp352-like, and Zfp353 in the genomes of mouse and rat. These KLF18-like genes do not possess introns inside their coding regions, and gene expression data indicate that some of them may function in early embryonic development. They represent further expansions of KLF members in the murine lineage, most likely resulted from several events of retrotransposition and local gene duplication starting from an ancient spliced mRNA of KLF18.
PMCID: PMC3820594  PMID: 24244731
21.  Conditional Disruption of Mouse Klf5 Results in Defective Eyelids with Malformed Meibomian Glands, Abnormal Cornea and Loss of Conjunctival Goblet Cells 
Developmental biology  2011;356(1):5-18.
Members of the Krüppel-like family of transcription factors regulate diverse developmental processes in various organs. Previously, we have demonstrated the role of Klf4 in the mouse ocular surface. Herein, we determined the role of the structurally related Klf5, using Klf5-conditional null (Klf5CN) mice derived by mating Klf5-LoxP and Le-Cre mice. Klf5 mRNA was detected as early as embryonic day 12 (E12) in the cornea, conjunctiva and eyelids, wherein its expression increased during development. Though the embryonic eye morphogenesis was unaltered in the Klf5CN mice, postnatal maturation was defective, resulting in smaller eyes with swollen eyelids that failed to separate properly. Klf5CN palpebral epidermis was hyperplastic with 7-9 layers of keratinocytes, compared with 2-3 in the wild type (WT). Klf5CN eyelid hair follicles and sebaceous glands were significantly enlarged, and the meibomian glands malformed. Klf5CN lacrimal glands displayed increased vasculature and large number of infiltrating cells. Klf5CN corneas were translucent, thicker with defective epithelial basement membrane and hypercellular stroma. Klf5CN conjunctiva lacked goblet cells, demonstrating that Klf5 is required for conjunctival goblet cell development. The number of Ki67-positive mitotic cells was more than doubled, consistent with the increased number of Klf5CN ocular surface epithelial cells. Co-ablation of Klf4 and Klf5 resulted in a more severe ocular surface phenotype compared with Klf4CN or Klf5CN, demonstrating that Klf4 and Klf5 share few if any, redundant functions. Thus, Klf5CN mice provide a useful model for investigating ocular surface pathologies involving meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, corneal or conjunctival defects.
PMCID: PMC3130829  PMID: 21600198
Klf5; cornea; conjunctiva; meibomian glands; lacrimal glands; eyelids; goblet cells
22.  Protein Inhibitor of Activated STAT1 Interacts with and Up-regulates Activities of the Pro-proliferative Transcription Factor Krüppel-like Factor 5* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;282(7):4782-4793.
Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) is a zinc finger-containing transcription factor that regulates proliferation of various cell types, including fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, and intestinal epithelial cells. To identify proteins that interact with KLF5, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screen of a 17-day mouse embryo cDNA library with KLF5 as bait. The screen revealed 21 preys clustered in four groups as follows: proteins mediating gene expression, metabolism, trafficking, and signaling. Among them was protein inhibitor of activated STAT1 (PIAS1), a small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) ligase that regulates transcription factors through SUMOylation or physical interaction. Association between PIAS1 and KLF5 was verified by co-immunoprecipitation. Structural determination showed that the acidic domain of PIAS1 bound to both the amino- and carboxyl-terminal regions of KLF5 and that this interaction was inhibited by the amino terminus of PIAS1. Indirect immunofluorescence demonstrated that PIAS1 and KLF5 co-localized to the nucleus. Furthermore, the PIAS1-KLF5 complex was co-localized with the TATA-binding protein and was enriched in RNA polymerase II foci. Transient transfection of COS-7 cells by PIAS1 and KLF5 significantly increased the steady-state protein levels of each other. Luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that PIAS1 significantly activated the promoters of KLF5 and PIAS1 and synergistically increased the transcriptional activity of KLF5 in activating the cyclin D1 and Cdc2 promoters. Importantly, PIAS1 increased the ability of KLF5 to enhance cell proliferation in transfected cells. These results indicate that PIAS1 is a functional partner of KLF5 and enhances the ability of KLF5 to promote proliferation.
PMCID: PMC2212600  PMID: 17178721
23.  Regulation of Delta-Aminolevulinic Acid Dehydratase by Krüppel-Like Factor 1 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46482.
Krüppel-like factor 1(KLF1) is a hematopoietic-specific zinc finger transcription factor essential for erythroid gene expression. In concert with the transacting factor GATA1, KLF1 modulates the coordinate expression of the genes encoding the multi-enzyme heme biosynthetic pathway during erythroid differentiation. To explore the mechanisms underpinning KLF1 action at the gene loci regulating the first 3 steps in this process, we have exploited the K1-ERp erythroid cell line, in which KLF1 translocates rapidly to the nucleus in response to treatment with 4-OH-Tamoxifen (4-OHT). KLF1 acts as a differentiation-independent transcriptional co-regulator of delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (Alad), but not 5-aminolevulinate synthase gene (Alas2) or porphobilinogen deaminase (Pbgd). Similar to its role at the β-globin promoter, KLF1 induces factor recruitment and chromatin changes at the Alad1b promoter in a temporally-specific manner. In contrast to these changes, we observed a distinct mechanism of histone eviction at the Alad1b promoter. Furthermore, KLF1-dependent events were not modulated by GATA1 factor promoter co-occupancy alone. These results not only enhance our understanding of erythroid-specific modulation of heme biosynthetic regulation by KLF1, but provide a model that will facilitate the elucidation of novel KLF1-dependent events at erythroid gene loci that are independent of GATA1 activity.
PMCID: PMC3463598  PMID: 23056320
24.  Krüppel-like factors 4 and 5: the yin and yang regulators of cellular proliferation 
Cell research  2005;15(2):92-96.
Krüppel-like factors (KLFs) are evolutionarily conserved zinc finger-containing transcription factors with diverse regulatory functions in cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, and embryogenesis. KLF4 and KLF5 are two closely related members of the KLF family that have a similar tissue distribution in embryos and adults. However, the two KLFs often exhibit opposite effects on regulation of gene transcription, despite binding to similar, if not identical, cis-acting DNA sequences. In addition, KLF4 and 5 exert contrasting effects on cell proliferation in many instances; while KLF4 is an inhibitor of cell growth, KLF5 stimulates proliferation. Here we review the biological properties and biochemical mechanisms of action of the two KLFs in the context of growth regulation.
PMCID: PMC1317089  PMID: 15740636
cancer; cell cycle; KLF; transcription; transformation; zinc fingers; BTE, basic transcription element; BTEB2, basic transcription element binding protein 2; CYP1A1, cytochrome P-450IA1; KLF, Krüppel-like factor; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase
25.  Zebrafish Krüppel-Like Factor 4a Represses Intestinal Cell Proliferation and Promotes Differentiation of Intestinal Cell Lineages 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20974.
Mouse krüppel-like factor 4 (Klf4) is a zinc finger-containing transcription factor required for terminal differentiation of goblet cells in the colon. However, studies using either Klf4−/− mice or mice with conditionally deleted Klf4 in their gastric epithelia showed different results in the role of Klf4 in epithelial cell proliferation. We used zebrafish as a model organism to gain further understanding of the role of Klf4 in the intestinal cell proliferation and differentiation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We characterized the function of klf4a, a mammalian klf4 homologue by antisense morpholino oligomer knockdown. Zebrafish Klf4a shared high amino acid similarities with human and mouse Klf4. Phylogenetic analysis grouped zebrafish Klf4a together with both human and mouse Klf4 in a branch with high bootstrap value. In zebrafish, we demonstrate that Klf4a represses intestinal cell proliferation based on results of BrdU incorporation, p-Histone 3 immunostaining, and transmission electron microscopy analyses. Decreased PepT1 expression was detected in intestinal bulbs of 80- and 102-hours post fertilization (hpf) klf4a morphants. Significant reduction of alcian blue-stained goblet cell number was identified in intestines of 102- and 120-hpf klf4a morphants. Embryos treated with γ-secretase inhibitor showed increased klf4a expression in the intestine, while decreased klf4a expression and reduction in goblet cell number were observed in embryos injected with Notch intracellular domain (NICD) mRNA. We were able to detect recovery of goblet cell number in 102-hpf embryos that had been co-injected with both klf4a and Notch 1a NICD mRNA.
This study provides in vivo evidence showing that zebrafih Klf4a is essential for the repression of intestinal cell proliferation. Zebrafish Klf4a is required for the differentiation of goblet cells and the terminal differentiation of enterocytes. Moreover, the regulation of differentiation of goblet cells in zebrafish intestine by Notch signaling at least partially mediated through Klf4a.
PMCID: PMC3110806  PMID: 21687630

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