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1.  Paxillin controls directional cell motility in response to physical cues 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2012;6(6):502-508.
Physical cues from the extracellular environment that influence cell shape and directional migration are transduced into changes in cytoskeletal organization and biochemistry through integrin-based cell adhesions to extracellular matrix (ECM). Paxillin is a focal adhesion (FA) scaffold protein that mediates integrin anchorage to the cytoskeleton, and has been implicated in regulation of FA assembly and cell migration. To determine whether paxillin is involved in coupling mechanical distortion with directional movement, cell shape was physically constrained by culturing cells on square-shaped fibronectin-coated adhesive islands surrounded by non-adhesive barrier regions that were created with a microcontact printing technique. Square-shaped cells preferentially formed FAs and extended lamellipodia from their corner regions when stimulated with PDGF, and loss of paxillin resulted in loss of this polarized response. Selective expression of the N- and C-terminal domains of paxillin produced opposite, but complementary, effects on suppressing or promoting lamellipodia formation in different regions of square cells, which corresponded to directional motility defects in vitro. Paxillin loss or mutation was also shown to affect the formation of circular dorsal ruffles, and this corresponded to changes in cell invasive behavior in 3D. This commentary addresses the implications of these findings in terms of how a multifunctional FA scaffold protein can link physical cues to cell adhesion, protrusion and membrane trafficking so as to control directional migration in 2D and 3D. We also discuss how microengineered ECM islands and in vivo model systems can be used to further elucidate the functions of paxillin in directional migration.
PMCID: PMC3547894  PMID: 23076140
paxillin; focal adhesion; lamellipodia; dorsal ruffles; migration; motility; microcontact printing; membrane trafficking; mechanotransduction
2.  Dictyostelium discoideum Paxillin Regulates Actin-Based Processes 
Protist  2009;160(2):221-232.
Paxillin is a key player in integrating the actin cytoskeleton with adhesion, and thus is essential to numerous cellular processes including proliferation, differentiation and migration in animal cells. PaxB, the Dictyostelium discoideum orthologue of paxillin, has been shown to be important for adhesion and development, much like its mammalian counterpart. Here, we use the overproduction of PaxB to gain better insight into its role in regulating the actin cytoskeleton and adhesion. We find that PaxB overexpressing (PaxBOE) cells can aggregate and form mounds normally, but are blocked in subsequent development. This arrest can be rescued by addition of wild-type cells, indicating a non-cell autonomous role for PaxB. PaxBOE cells also have alterations in several actin-based processes, including adhesion, endocytosis, motility and chemotaxis. PaxBOE cells exhibit an EDTA-sensitive increase in cell-cell cohesion, suggesting that PaxB-mediated adhesion is Ca2+ or Mg2+ dependent. Interestingly, cells overexpressing paxB are less adhesive to the substratum. In addition, PaxBOE cells display decreased motility under starved conditions, decreased endocytosis, and are unable to efficiently chemotax up a folate gradient. Taken together, the data suggest that proper expression of PaxB is vital for the regulation of development and actin-dependent processes.
PMCID: PMC2743336  PMID: 19213599
actin; adhesion; chemotaxis; Dictyostelium; PaxB; paxillin
3.  α4β1 Integrin Regulates Lamellipodia Protrusion via a Focal Complex/Focal Adhesion-independent MechanismV⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2002;13(9):3203-3217.
α4β1 integrin plays an important role in cell migration. We show that when ectopically expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells, α4β1 is sufficient and required for promoting protrusion of broad lamellipodia in response to scratch-wounding, whereas α5β1 does not have this effect. By time-lapse microscopy of cells expressing an α4/green fluorescent protein fusion protein, we show that α4β1 forms transient puncta at the leading edge of cells that begin to protrude lamellipodia in response to scratch-wounding. The cells expressing a mutant α4/green fluorescent protein that binds paxillin at a reduced level had a faster response to scratch-wounding, forming α4-positive puncta and protruding lamellipodia much earlier. While enhancing lamellipodia protrusion, this mutation reduces random motility of the cells in Transwell assays, indicating that lamellipodia protrusion and random motility are distinct types of motile activities that are differentially regulated by interactions between α4β1 and paxillin. Finally, we show that, at the leading edge, α4-positive puncta and paxillin-positive focal complexes/adhesions do not colocalize, but α4β1 and paxillin colocalize partially in ruffles. These findings provide evidence for a specific role of α4β1 in lamellipodia protrusion that is distinct from the motility-promoting functions of α5β1 and other integrins that mediate cell adhesion and signaling events through focal complexes and focal adhesions.
PMCID: PMC124153  PMID: 12221126
4.  3T3 Cell Lines Stably Expressing Pax6 or Pax6(5a) – A New Tool Used for Identification of Common and Isoform Specific Target Genes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31915.
Pax6 and Pax6(5a) are two isoforms of the evolutionary conserved Pax6 gene often co-expressed in specific stochiometric relationship in the brain and the eye during development. The Pax6(5a) protein differs from Pax6 by having a 14 amino acid insert in the paired domain, causing the two proteins to have different DNA binding specificities. Difference in functions during development is proven by the fact that mutations in the 14 amino acid insertion for Pax6(5a) give a slightly different eye phenotype than the one described for Pax6. Whereas quite many Pax6 target genes have been published during the last years, few Pax6(5a) specific target genes have been reported on. However, target genes identified by Pax6 knockout studies can probably be Pax6(5a) targets as well, since this isoform also will be affected by the knockout. In order to identify new Pax6 target genes, and to try to distinguish between genes regulated by Pax6 and Pax6(5a), we generated FlpIn-3T3 cell lines stably expressing Pax6 or Pax6(5a). RNA was harvested from these cell lines and used in gene expression microarrays where we identified a number of genes differentially regulated by Pax6 and Pax6(5a). A majority of these were associated with the extracellular region. By qPCR we verified that Ncam1, Ngef, Sphk1, Dkk3 and Crtap are Pax6(5a) specific target genes, while Tgfbi, Vegfa, EphB2, Klk8 and Edn1 were confirmed as Pax6 specific target genes. Nbl1, Ngfb and seven genes encoding different glycosyl transferases appeared to be regulated by both. Direct binding to the promoters of Crtap, Ctgf, Edn1, Dkk3, Pdgfb and Ngef was verified by ChIP. Furthermore, a change in morphology of the stably transfected Pax6 and Pax6(5a) cells was observed, and the Pax6 expressing cells were shown to have increased proliferation and migration capacities.
PMCID: PMC3285655  PMID: 22384097
5.  A Pax3/Dmrt2/Myf5 Regulatory Cascade Functions at the Onset of Myogenesis 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(4):e1000897.
All skeletal muscle progenitor cells in the body derive from the dermomyotome, the dorsal epithelial domain of developing somites. These multipotent stem cells express Pax3, and this expression is maintained in the myogenic lineage where Pax3 plays an important role. Identification of Pax3 targets is therefore important for understanding the mechanisms that underlie the onset of myogenesis. In a microarray screen of Pax3-GFP sorted cells, with analysis on Pax3 gain and loss of function genetic backgrounds, we identify Dmrt2, expressed in the dermomyotome, as a Pax3 target. In vitro gel shift analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation with in vivo extracts show that Pax3 binds to a conserved 286 bp sequence, situated at −18 kb from Dmrt2. This sequence directs reporter transgene expression to the somite, and this is severely affected when the Pax3 site is mutated in the context of the locus. In Dmrt2 mutant embryos, somite maturation is perturbed and the skeletal muscle of the myotome is abnormal. We now report that the onset of myogenesis is also affected. This depends on activation, in the epaxial dermomyotome, of the myogenic determination gene, Myf5, through its early epaxial enhancer. This sequence contains sites that bind Dmrt2, which belongs to the DM class of DNA–binding proteins. Mutation of these sites compromises activity of the enhancer in transgenic embryos where the reporter transgene is under the control of the Myf5 epaxial enhancer. Transactivation of this site by Dmrt2 is demonstrated in vitro, and conditional overexpression of Dmrt2 in Pax3 expressing cells in the somite confirms the role of this factor in the activation of Myf5. These results reveal a novel genetic network, comprising a Pax3/Dmrt2/Myf5 regulatory cascade that operates in stem cells of the epaxial dermomyotome to initiate skeletal muscle formation.
Author Summary
It is well established that skeletal muscle derives from segmented structures called somites that form on either side of the axis of the embryo. The part of the somite that contains muscle stem cells is called the dermomyotome. These cells express the transcription factor Pax3, which regulates muscle stem cell behaviour. We now show that the Dmrt2 gene, also expressed in the dermomyotome, is directly controlled by Pax3. Since Dmrt2 has been implicated in maintaining the integrity of the dermomyotome, this therefore indicates an upstream role for Pax3 in this structure as well as in controlling cells that form skeletal muscle. Furthermore Dmrt2 directly regulates early activation of the myogenic determination gene, Myf5, required for the formation of the first skeletal muscle in the somite. This is a novel function for Dmrt2 and shows that this transcription factor controls both structure and cell fate. Our results reveal a Pax3/Dmrt2/Myf5 regulatory cascade through which Pax3 orchestrates the onset of myogenesis in the muscle stem cells of the dermomyotome.
PMCID: PMC2848553  PMID: 20368965
6.  Distinct Regulatory Mechanisms Act to Establish and Maintain Pax3 Expression in the Developing Neural Tube 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003811.
Pattern formation in developing tissues is driven by the interaction of extrinsic signals with intrinsic transcriptional networks that together establish spatially and temporally restricted profiles of gene expression. How this process is orchestrated at the molecular level by genomic cis-regulatory modules is one of the central questions in developmental biology. Here we have addressed this by analysing the regulation of Pax3 expression in the context of the developing spinal cord. Pax3 is induced early during neural development in progenitors of the dorsal spinal cord and is maintained as pattern is subsequently elaborated, resulting in the segregation of the tissue into dorsal and ventral subdivisions. We used a combination of comparative genomics and transgenic assays to define and dissect several functional cis-regulatory modules associated with the Pax3 locus. We provide evidence that the coordinated activity of two modules establishes and refines Pax3 expression during neural tube development. Mutational analyses of the initiating element revealed that in addition to Wnt signaling, Nkx family homeodomain repressors restrict Pax3 transcription to the presumptive dorsal neural tube. Subsequently, a second module mediates direct positive autoregulation and feedback to maintain Pax3 expression. Together, these data indicate a mechanism by which transient external signals are converted into a sustained expression domain by the activities of distinct regulatory elements. This transcriptional logic differs from the cross-repression that is responsible for the spatiotemporal patterns of gene expression in the ventral neural tube, suggesting that a variety of circuits are deployed within the neural tube regulatory network to establish and elaborate pattern formation.
Author Summary
The complex organization of tissues is established precisely and reproducibly during development. In the vertebrate neural tube, as in many other tissues, the interplay between extrinsic morphogens and intrinsic transcription factors produces spatial patterns of gene expression that delineate precursors for specific cell types. One such transcription factor, Pax3, defines the precursors of all sensory neuron subtypes and distinguishes them from precursors fated to give rise to the motor circuits. To gain insight into the molecular mechanisms by which the spinal cord is segregated into these two functional domains, we analysed the genomic regulatory sequences responsible for controlling Pax3 activity. We identified two regions of the genome, the coordinated activity of which establishes and refines Pax3 activity. We showed that the combination of activating signals from secreted Wnt factors together with Nkx family homeodomain repressors restrict Pax3 activity to the presumptive sensory region of the neural tissue. Subsequently, Pax3 acts to directly potentiate its own transcription and this autoregulation sustains Pax3 expression at later developmental stages. Together, our study reveals the way in which intrinsic and extrinsic signals are integrated by cells and converted into a sustained pattern of gene activity in the developing nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3789833  PMID: 24098141
7.  The LD4 motif of paxillin regulates cell spreading and motility through an interaction with paxillin kinase linker (PKL) 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;154(1):161-176.
The small GTPases of the Rho family are intimately involved in integrin-mediated changes in the actin cytoskeleton that accompany cell spreading and motility. The exact means by which the Rho family members elicit these changes is unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the interaction of paxillin via its LD4 motif with the putative ARF-GAP paxillin kinase linker (PKL) (Turner et al., 1999), is critically involved in the regulation of Rac-dependent changes in the actin cytoskeleton that accompany cell spreading and motility. Overexpression of a paxillin LD4 deletion mutant (paxillinΔLD4) in CHO.K1 fibroblasts caused the generation of multiple broad lamellipodia. These morphological changes were accompanied by an increase in cell protrusiveness and random motility, which correlated with prolonged activation of Rac. In contrast, directional motility was inhibited. These alterations in morphology and motility were dependent on a paxillin–PKL interaction. In cells overexpressing paxillinΔLD4 mutants, PKL localization to focal contacts was disrupted, whereas that of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and vinculin was not. In addition, FAK activity during spreading was not compromised by deletion of the paxillin LD4 motif. Furthermore, overexpression of PKL mutants lacking the paxillin-binding site (PKLΔPBS2) induced phenotypic changes reminiscent of paxillinΔLD4 mutant cells. These data suggest that the paxillin association with PKL is essential for normal integrin-mediated cell spreading, and locomotion and that this interaction is necessary for the regulation of Rac activity during these events.
PMCID: PMC2196859  PMID: 11448998
paxillin; PKL; LD motif; Rho family GTPases; cell spreading and motility
8.  Transcriptome analyses based on genetic screens for Pax3 myogenic targets in the mouse embryo 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:696.
Pax3 is a key upstream regulator of the onset of myogenesis, controlling progenitor cell survival and behaviour as well as entry into the myogenic programme. It functions in the dermomyotome of the somite from which skeletal muscle derives and in progenitor cell populations that migrate from the somite such as those of the limbs. Few Pax3 target genes have been identified. Identifying genes that lie genetically downstream of Pax3 is therefore an important endeavour in elucidating the myogenic gene regulatory network.
We have undertaken a screen in the mouse embryo which employs a Pax3GFP allele that permits isolation of Pax3 expressing cells by flow cytometry and a Pax3PAX3-FKHR allele that encodes PAX3-FKHR in which the DNA binding domain of Pax3 is fused to the strong transcriptional activation domain of FKHR. This constitutes a gain of function allele that rescues the Pax3 mutant phenotype. Microarray comparisons were carried out between Pax3GFP/+ and Pax3GFP/PAX3-FKHR preparations from the hypaxial dermomyotome of somites at E9.5 and forelimb buds at E10.5. A further transcriptome comparison between Pax3-GFP positive and negative cells identified sequences specific to myogenic progenitors in the forelimb buds. Potential Pax3 targets, based on changes in transcript levels on the gain of function genetic background, were validated by analysis on loss or partial loss of function Pax3 mutant backgrounds. Sequences that are up- or down-regulated in the presence of PAX3-FKHR are classified as somite only, somite and limb or limb only. The latter should not contain sequences from Pax3 positive neural crest cells which do not invade the limbs. Verification by whole mount in situ hybridisation distinguishes myogenic markers. Presentation of potential Pax3 target genes focuses on signalling pathways and on transcriptional regulation.
Pax3 orchestrates many of the signalling pathways implicated in the activation or repression of myogenesis by regulating effectors and also, notably, inhibitors of these pathways. Important transcriptional regulators of myogenesis are candidate Pax3 targets. Myogenic determination genes, such as Myf5 are controlled positively, whereas the effect of Pax3 on genes encoding inhibitors of myogenesis provides a potential brake on differentiation. In the progenitor cell population, Pax7 and also Hdac5 which is a potential repressor of Foxc2, are subject to positive control by Pax3.
PMCID: PMC3018477  PMID: 21143873
9.  β-Arrestin 2-dependent activation of ERK1/2 is required for ADP-induced paxillin phosphorylation at Ser83 and microglia chemotaxis 
Glia  2012;60(9):1366-1377.
Microglia play crucial roles in increased inflammation in the CNS upon brain injuries and diseases. Extracellular ADP has been reported to induce microglia chemotaxis and membrane ruffle formation through P2Y12 receptor. In this study, we examined the role of ERK1/2 activation in ADP-induced microglia chemotaxis. ADP stimulation increases the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and paxillin phosphorylation at Tyr31 and Ser83. Inhibition of ERK1/2 significantly inhibited paxillin phosphorylation at Ser83 and the retraction of membrane ruffles, causing inefficient chemotaxis. Close examination of dynamics of focal adhesion formation with GFP-paxillin revealed that the disassembly of focal adhesions in U0126-treated cells was significantly impaired. Depletion of β-Arr2 with shRNA markedly reduced the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Pax/Ser83, indicating that β-Arr2 is required for ERK1/2 activation upon ADP stimulation. A large fraction of phosphorylated ERK1/2 and β-Arr2 were translocated and co-localized at focal contacts in the newly forming lamellipodia. Examination of kinetics and rate constant of paxillin formation and disassembly revealed that the phosphorylation of paxillin at Tyr31 by c-Src appears to be involved in adhesion formation upon ADP stimulation while Ser83 required for adhesion disassembly.
PMCID: PMC3984973  PMID: 22638989
ERK1/2; paxillin phosphorylation; focal adhesion; chemotaxis; microglia
10.  Paxillin and Hic-5 Interaction with Vinculin Is Differentially Regulated by Rac1 and RhoA 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37990.
Cell migration is of paramount importance to organism development and maintenance as well as multiple pathological processes, including cancer metastasis. The RhoGTPases Rac1 and RhoA are indispensable for cell migration as they regulate cell protrusion, cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions and force transduction. However, the consequences of their activity at a molecular level within the cell remain undetermined. Using a combination of FRET, FRAP and biochemical analyses we show that the interactions between the focal adhesion proteins vinculin and paxillin, as well as the closely related family member Hic-5 are spatially and reciprocally regulated by the activity of Rac1 and RhoA. Vinculin in its active conformation interacts with either paxillin or Hic-5 in adhesions in response to Rac1 and RhoA activation respectively, while inactive vinculin interacts with paxillin in the membrane following Rac1 inhibition. Additionally, Rac1 specifically regulates the dynamics of paxillin as well as its binding partner and F-actin interacting protein actopaxin (α-parvin) in adhesions. Furthermore, FRET analysis of protein:protein interactions within cell adhesions formed in 3D matrices revealed that, in contrast to 2D systems vinculin interacts preferentially with Hic-5. This study provides new insight into the complexity of cell-ECM adhesions in both 2D and 3D matrices by providing the first description of RhoGTPase-coordinated protein:protein interactions in a cellular microenvironment. These data identify discrete roles for paxillin and Hic-5 in Rac1 and RhoA-dependent cell adhesion formation and maturation; processes essential for productive cell migration.
PMCID: PMC3358283  PMID: 22629471
11.  Distinct roles for paxillin and Hic-5 in regulating breast cancer cell morphology, invasion, and metastasis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(3):327-341.
This study reveals novel roles for the focal adhesion proteins paxillin and Hic-5 in regulating breast cancer invasion strategies and metastasis. Depletion of paxillin promotes a hypermesenchymal phenotype while dysregulating 3D adhesion dynamics. In contrast, RNAi of Hic-5 induces a hyperamoeboid phenotype with dysregulated RhoA/pMLC signaling.
Individual metastatic tumor cells exhibit two interconvertible modes of cell motility during tissue invasion that are classified as either mesenchymal or amoeboid. The molecular mechanisms by which invasive breast cancer cells regulate this migratory plasticity have yet to be fully elucidated. Herein we show that the focal adhesion adaptor protein, paxillin, and the closely related Hic-5 have distinct and unique roles in the regulation of breast cancer cell lung metastasis by modulating cell morphology and cell invasion through three-dimensional extracellular matrices (3D ECMs). Cells depleted of paxillin by RNA interference displayed a highly elongated mesenchymal morphology, whereas Hic-5 knockdown induced an amoeboid phenotype with both cell populations exhibiting reduced plasticity, migration persistence, and velocity through 3D ECM environments. In evaluating associated signaling pathways, we determined that Rac1 activity was increased in cells devoid of paxillin whereas Hic-5 silencing resulted in elevated RhoA activity and associated Rho kinase–induced nonmuscle myosin II activity. Hic-5 was essential for adhesion formation in 3D ECMs, and analysis of adhesion dynamics and lifetime identified paxillin as a key regulator of 3D adhesion assembly, stabilization, and disassembly.
PMCID: PMC3031464  PMID: 21148292
12.  Biochemical and Functional Characterization of the Interaction between Liprin-α1 and GIT1: Implications for the Regulation of Cell Motility 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20757.
We have previously identified the scaffold protein liprin-α1 as an important regulator of integrin-mediated cell motility and tumor cell invasion. Liprin-α1 may interact with different proteins, and the functional significance of these interactions in the regulation of cell motility is poorly known. Here we have addressed the involvement of the liprin-α1 partner GIT1 in liprin-α1-mediated effects on cell spreading and migration. GIT1 depletion inhibited spreading by affecting the lamellipodia, and prevented liprin-α1-enhanced spreading. Conversely inhibition of the formation of the liprin-α1-GIT complex by expression of liprin-ΔCC3 could still enhance spreading, although to a lesser extent compared to full length liprin-α1. No cumulative effects were observed after depletion of both liprin-α1 and GIT1, suggesting that the two proteins belong to the same signaling network in the regulation of cell spreading. Our data suggest that liprin-α1 may compete with paxillin for binding to GIT1, while binding of βPIX to GIT1 was unaffected by the presence of liprin-α1. Interestingly, GIT and liprin-α1 reciprocally regulated their subcellular localization, since liprin-α1 overexpression, but not the GIT binding-defective liprin-ΔCC3 mutant, affected the localization of endogenous GIT at peripheral and mature central focal adhesions, while the expression of a truncated, active form of GIT1 enhanced the localization of endogenous liprin-α1 at the edge of spreading cells. Moreover, GIT1 was required for liprin-α1-enhanced haptotatic migration, although the direct interaction between liprin-α1 and GIT1 was not needed. Our findings show that the functional interaction between liprin-α1 and GIT1 cooperate in the regulation of integrin-dependent cell spreading and motility on extracellular matrix. These findings and the possible competition of liprin-α1 with paxillin for binding to GIT1 suggest that alternative binding of GIT1 to either liprin-α1 or paxillin plays distinct roles in different phases of the protrusive activity in the cell.
PMCID: PMC3113849  PMID: 21695141
13.  Deletion and Gene Expression Analyses Define the Paxilline Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Penicillium paxilli 
Toxins  2013;5(8):1422-1446.
The indole-diterpene paxilline is an abundant secondary metabolite synthesized by Penicillium paxilli. In total, 21 genes have been identified at the PAX locus of which six have been previously confirmed to have a functional role in paxilline biosynthesis. A combination of bioinformatics, gene expression and targeted gene replacement analyses were used to define the boundaries of the PAX gene cluster. Targeted gene replacement identified seven genes, paxG, paxA, paxM, paxB, paxC, paxP and paxQ that were all required for paxilline production, with one additional gene, paxD, required for regular prenylation of the indole ring post paxilline synthesis. The two putative transcription factors, PP104 and PP105, were not co-regulated with the pax genes and based on targeted gene replacement, including the double knockout, did not have a role in paxilline production. The relationship of indole dimethylallyl transferases involved in prenylation of indole-diterpenes such as paxilline or lolitrem B, can be found as two disparate clades, not supported by prenylation type (e.g., regular or reverse). This paper provides insight into the P. paxilli indole-diterpene locus and reviews the recent advances identified in paxilline biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC3760044  PMID: 23949005
indole-diterpene; paxilline; prenylation
14.  Expression Patterns of PAX5, c-Met and Paxillin in Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Lung 
c-Met is important in the pathogenesis, invasion and spread of several forms of lung cancer and multiple c-Met inhibitors are undergoing clinical trials. PAX5 has been shown to upregulate c-Met in small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), and co-inhibiting PAX5 and c-Met had a synergic effect in killing tumor cells. Paxillin is a downstream target of activated c-Met, and its activation leads to enhanced cell motility and tumor spread. The expression patterns of these functionally related proteins had not been systemically studied in neuroendocrine tumors of lung.
Our aim was to investigate the expression patterns of PAX5, paxillin, c-Met and phosphorylated c-Met (p-c-Met) in four categories of pulmonary neuroendocrine tumor.
Tissue microarrays of 38 typical carcinoids (TC), 6 atypical carcinoids (AC), 34 SCLC, and 11 large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas (LCNEC) were studied with immunohistochemistry.
A vast majority of four tumor types expressed c-Met, p-c-Met and paxillin. PAX5 was frequently expressed in AC, SCLC and LCNEC, but tended to be negative in TC. Coexpression of PAX5 with c-Met or p-c-Met was present in a majority of AC, SCLC and LCNEC. Significant correlation between PAX5 and paxillin was detected in SCLC and LCNEC, but not in carcinoid tumors.
The frequent coexpression of PAX5 with c-Met or p-c-Met in intermediate and high grade neuroendocrine tumors supports the therapeutic strategy of co-inhibiting these proteins. The discrepancy between high and low grade neuroendocrine tumors in terms of PAX5/paxillin expression correlation may be due to different underlying molecular genetics of these tumors.
PMCID: PMC3049158  PMID: 21043826
15.  srGAP1 regulates lamellipodial dynamics and cell migratory behavior by modulating Rac1 activity 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(21):3393-3405.
srGAP1 limits Rac1 activity at lamellipodia in a negative feedback manner, allowing concomitant activation of Rac1 and RhoA at lamellipodia. Rho signaling causes membrane ruffling through actomyosin contractility and removes the protrusive structures. Such coordination of Rac and Rho determines migratory behavior through lamellipodial dynamics.
The distinct levels of Rac activity differentially regulate the pattern of intrinsic cell migration. However, it remains unknown how Rac activity is modulated and how the level of Rac activity controls cell migratory behavior. Here we show that Slit-Robo GAP 1 (srGAP1) is a modulator of Rac activity in locomotive cells. srGAP1 possesses a GAP activity specific to Rac1 and is recruited to lamellipodia in a Rac1-dependent manner. srGAP1 limits Rac1 activity and allows concomitant activation of Rac1 and RhoA, which are mutually inhibitory. When both GTPases are activated, the protrusive structures caused by Rac1-dependent actin reorganization are spatially restricted and periodically destabilized, causing ruffling by RhoA-induced actomyosin contractility. Depletion of srGAP1 overactivates Rac1 and inactivates RhoA, resulting in continuous spatiotemporal spreading of lamellipodia and a modal shift of intrinsic cell motility from random to directionally persistent. Thus srGAP1 is a key determinant of lamellipodial dynamics and cell migratory behavior.
PMCID: PMC3814155  PMID: 24006490
16.  A role for PAX8 in the tumorigenic phenotype of ovarian cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:292.
PAX8 is a member of the paired box (Pax) multigene family of transcription factors, which are involved in the developmental and tissue-specific control of the expression of several genes in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Previously, several studies reported that PAX8 is expressed at high levels in specific types of tumors. In particular, PAX8 has been recently reported to be conspicuously expressed in human ovarian cancer, but the functional role of PAX8 in the carcinogenesis of this type of tumor has not been addressed. In this study, we investigated the contribution of PAX8 in ovarian cancer progression.
Stable PAX8 depleted ovarian cancer cells were generated using short hairpin RNA (shRNA) constructs. PAX8 mRNA and protein were detected by RT-PCR, immunoblot and immunofluorescence. Cell proliferation, motility and invasion potential of PAX8 silenced cells were analyzed by means of growth curves, wound healing and Matrigel assays. In addition, PAX8 knockdown and control cells were injected into nude mice for xenograft tumorigenicity assays. Finally, qPCR was used to detect the expression levels of EMT markers in PAX8-overexpressing and control cells.
Here, we show that PAX8 plays a critical role in the migration, invasion and tumorigenic ability of ovarian cancer cells. Our results show that RNA interference-mediated knockdown of PAX8 expression in SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells produces a significant reduction of cell proliferation, migration ability and invasion activity compared with control parental SKOV-3 cells. Moreover, PAX8 silencing strongly suppresses anchorage-independent growth in vitro. Notably, tumorigenesis in vivo in a nude mouse xenograft model is also significantly inhibited.
Overall, our results indicate that PAX8 plays an important role in the tumorigenic phenotype of ovarian cancer cells and identifies PAX8 as a potential new target for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC4005813  PMID: 24766781
PAX8; Ovarian cancer; shRNA; Gene silencing
17.  Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A): a transcriptional target of PAX3-FKHR and mediates PAX3-FKHR–dependent motility in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:154.
Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) has a high propensity to metastasize, leading to its aggressiveness and a poor survival rate among those with the disease. More than 80% of aggressive ARMSs harbor a PAX3-FKHR fusion transcription factor, which regulates cell migration and promotes metastasis, most likely by regulating the fusion protein’s transcriptional targets. Therefore, identifying druggable transcription targets of PAX3-FKHR that are also downstream effectors of PAX3-FKHR–mediated cell migration and metastasis may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for treating ARMS.
To identify genes whose expression is directly affected by the level of PAX3-FKHR in an ARMS cellular-context, we first developed an ARMS cell line in which PAX3-FKHR is stably down-regulated, and showed that stably downregulating PAX3-FKHR in ARMS cells significantly decreased the cells’ motility. We used microarray analysis to identify genes whose expression level decreased when PAX3-FKHR was downregulated. We used mutational analysis, promoter reporter assays, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays to determine whether PAX3-FKHR binds to the promoter region of the target gene. We used siRNA and pharmacologic inhibitor to downregulate the target gene of PAX3-FKHR and investigated the effect of such downregulation on cell motility.
We found that when PAX3-FKHR was downregulated, the expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) decreased. We showed that PAX3-FKHR binds to a paired-domain binding-site in the CPT1A promoter region, indicating that CPT1A is a novel transcriptional target of PAX3-FKHR. Furthermore, downregulating CPT1A decreased cell motility in ARMS cells, indicating that CPT1A is a downstream effector of PAX3-FKHR–mediated cell migration and metastasis.
Taken together, we have identified CPT1A as a novel transcriptional target of PAX3-FKHR and revealed the novel function of CPT1A in promoting cell motility. CPT1A may represent a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of ARMS.
PMCID: PMC3453510  PMID: 22533991
18.  Serine phosphorylation regulates paxillin turnover during cell migration 
Paxillin acts as an adaptor protein that localizes to focal adhesion. This protein is regulated during cell migration by phosphorylation on tyrosine, serine and threonine residues. Most of these phosphorylations have been implicated in the regulation of different steps of cell migration. The two major phosphorylation sites of paxillin in response to adhesion to an extracellular matrix are serines 188 and 190. However, the function of this phosphorylation event remains unknown. The purpose of this work was to determine the role of paxillin phosphorylation on residues S188 and S190 in the regulation of cell migration.
We used NBT-II epithelial cells that can be induced to migrate when plated on collagen. To examine the role of paxillin serines 188/190 in cell migration, we constructed an EGFP-tagged paxillin mutant in which S188/S190 were mutated into unphosphorylatable alanine residues. We provide evidence that paxillin is regulated by proteasomal degradation following polyubiquitylation of the protein. During active cell migration on collagen, paxillin is protected from proteasome-dependent degradation. We demonstrate that phosphorylation of serines 188/190 is necessary for the protective effect of collagen. In an effort to understand the physiological relevance of paxillin protection from degradation, we show that cells expressing the paxillin S188/190A interfering mutant spread less, have reduced protrusive activity but migrate more actively.
Our data demonstrate for the first time that serine-regulated degradation of paxillin plays a key role in the modulation of membrane dynamics and consequently, in the control of cell motility.
PMCID: PMC1664571  PMID: 17121676
19.  Pax6 Interactions with Chromatin and Identification of Its Novel Direct Target Genes in Lens and Forebrain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54507.
Pax6 encodes a specific DNA-binding transcription factor that regulates the development of multiple organs, including the eye, brain and pancreas. Previous studies have shown that Pax6 regulates the entire process of ocular lens development. In the developing forebrain, Pax6 is expressed in ventricular zone precursor cells and in specific populations of neurons; absence of Pax6 results in disrupted cell proliferation and cell fate specification in telencephalon. In the pancreas, Pax6 is essential for the differentiation of α-, β- and δ-islet cells. To elucidate molecular roles of Pax6, chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments combined with high-density oligonucleotide array hybridizations (ChIP-chip) were performed using three distinct sources of chromatin (lens, forebrain and β-cells). ChIP-chip studies, performed as biological triplicates, identified a total of 5,260 promoters occupied by Pax6. 1,001 (133) of these promoter regions were shared between at least two (three) distinct chromatin sources, respectively. In lens chromatin, 2,335 promoters were bound by Pax6. RNA expression profiling from Pax6+/− lenses combined with in vivo Pax6-binding data yielded 76 putative Pax6-direct targets, including the Gaa, Isl1, Kif1b, Mtmr2, Pcsk1n, and Snca genes. RNA and ChIP data were validated for all these genes. In lens cells, reporter assays established Kib1b and Snca as Pax6 activated and repressed genes, respectively. In situ hybridization revealed reduced expression of these genes in E14 cerebral cortex. Moreover, we examined differentially expressed transcripts between E9.5 wild type and Pax6−/− lens placodes that suggested Efnb2, Fat4, Has2, Nav1, and Trpm3 as novel Pax6-direct targets. Collectively, the present studies, through the identification of Pax6-direct target genes, provide novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of Pax6 gene control during mouse embryonic development. In addition, the present data demonstrate that Pax6 interacts preferentially with promoter regions in a tissue-specific fashion. Nevertheless, nearly 20% of the regions identified are accessible to Pax6 in multiple tissues.
PMCID: PMC3544819  PMID: 23342162
20.  Paxillin inhibits HDAC6 to regulate microtubule acetylation, Golgi structure, and polarized migration 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;206(3):395-413.
The focal adhesion scaffold protein paxillin coordinates microtubule acetylation-dependent cell polarization and migration in both normal and transformed cells through a direct inhibitory interaction with the α-tubulin deacetylase HDAC6.
Polarized cell migration is essential for normal organism development and is also a critical component of cancer cell invasion and disease progression. Directional cell motility requires the coordination of dynamic cell–extracellular matrix interactions as well as repositioning of the Golgi apparatus, both of which can be controlled by the microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton. In this paper, we have identified a new and conserved role for the focal adhesion scaffold protein paxillin in regulating the posttranslational modification of the MT cytoskeleton through an inhibitory interaction with the α-tubulin deacetylase HDAC6. We also determined that through HDAC6-dependent regulation of the MT cytoskeleton, paxillin regulates both Golgi organelle integrity and polarized cell invasion and migration in both three-dimensional and two-dimensional matrix microenvironments. Importantly, these data reveal a fundamental role for paxillin in coordinating MT acetylation-dependent cell polarization and migration in both normal and transformed cells.
PMCID: PMC4121979  PMID: 25070956
21.  PAX2 Expression in Ovarian Cancer 
PAX2 is one of nine PAX genes that regulate tissue development and cellular differentiation in embryos. However, the functional role of PAX2 in ovarian cancer is not known. Twenty-six ovarian cancer cell lines with different histology origins were screened for PAX2 expression. Two ovarian cancer cell lines: RMUGL (mucinous) and TOV21G (clear cell), with high PAX2 expression were chosen for further study. Knockdown PAX2 expression in these cell lines was achieved by lentiviral shRNAs targeting the PAX2 gene. PAX2 stable knockdown cells were characterized for cell proliferation, migration, apoptosis, protein profiles, and gene expression profiles. The result indicated that these stable PAX2 knockdown cells had reduced cell proliferation and migration. Microarray analysis indicated that several genes involved in growth inhibition and motility, such as G0S2, GREM1, and WFDC1, were up-regulated in PAX2 knockdown cells. On the other hand, over-expressing PAX2 in PAX2-negative ovarian cell lines suppressed their cell proliferation. In summary, PAX2 could have both oncogenic and tumor suppression functions, which might depend on the genetic content of the ovarian cancer cells. Further investigation of PAX2 in tumor suppression and mortality is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3634442  PMID: 23502471
PAX2; ovarian cancer; G0S2; WFDC1; GREM1; shRNA
22.  Genome-wide analysis of Pax8 binding provides new insights into thyroid functions 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:147.
The transcription factor Pax8 is essential for the differentiation of thyroid cells. However, there are few data on genes transcriptionally regulated by Pax8 other than thyroid-related genes. To better understand the role of Pax8 in the biology of thyroid cells, we obtained transcriptional profiles of Pax8-silenced PCCl3 thyroid cells using whole genome expression arrays and integrated these signals with global cis-regulatory sequencing studies performed by ChIP-Seq analysis
Exhaustive analysis of Pax8 immunoprecipitated peaks demonstrated preferential binding to intragenic regions and CpG-enriched islands, which suggests a role of Pax8 in transcriptional regulation of orphan CpG regions. In addition, ChIP-Seq allowed us to identify Pax8 partners, including proteins involved in tertiary DNA structure (CTCF) and chromatin remodeling (Sp1), and these direct transcriptional interactions were confirmed in vivo. Moreover, both factors modulate Pax8-dependent transcriptional activation of the sodium iodide symporter (Nis) gene promoter. We ultimately combined putative and novel Pax8 binding sites with actual target gene expression regulation to define Pax8-dependent genes. Functional classification suggests that Pax8-regulated genes may be directly involved in important processes of thyroid cell function such as cell proliferation and differentiation, apoptosis, cell polarity, motion and adhesion, and a plethora of DNA/protein-related processes.
Our study provides novel insights into the role of Pax8 in thyroid biology, exerted through transcriptional regulation of important genes involved in critical thyrocyte processes. In addition, we found new transcriptional partners of Pax8, which functionally cooperate with Pax8 in the regulation of thyroid gene transcription. Besides, our data demonstrate preferential location of Pax8 in non-promoter CpG regions. These data point to an orphan CpG island-mediated mechanism that represents a novel role of Pax8 in the transcriptional output of the thyrocyte.
PMCID: PMC3403905  PMID: 22531031
Pax8; ChIP-Seq; Expression arrays; CpG island; CTCF; SP1
23.  PAX3 Expression in Normal Skin Melanocytes and Melanocytic Lesions (Naevi and Melanomas) 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e9977.
Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer, arising in cutaneous melanocytes. The transcription factor PAX3 regulates melanocyte specification from neural crest cells during development but expression in differentiated melanocytes is uncertain. By contrast it is frequently found in melanomas and naevi and is a marker for melanoma staging and detection. In this study we analysed the expression of PAX3 across the spectrum of melanocytic cells, from normal melanocytes to cells of benign and malignant lesions to better assess its function in these various tissues. Pax3 and PAX3 (italicized) refer to the mouse and human gene, respectively; whereas Pax3 and PAX3 (non-italicized) refer to the corresponding mouse and human protein.
Methodology and Principal Findings
PAX3 expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry and qRT-PCR. Immunofluorescence was used for co-expression with differentiation, migration and survival markers. As expected PAX3 expression was observed in naevi and melanoma cells. It was also found in melanocytes of normal skin where it co-expressed with melanocyte markers, MITF and MLANA. Co-expression with its downstream target, antiapoptotic factor BCL2L1 confirms PAX3 as a cell survival regulator. PAX3 was also co-expressed with melanoma cell migration marker MCAM in dermal naevi and melanoma cell nests, but this downstream target of PAX3 was not present in normal epidermal melanocytes, suggesting differential roles for PAX3 in normal epidermal melanocytes and melanoma cells. Most interestingly, a proportion of PAX3-positive epidermal melanocytes in normal skin show HES1 and Ki67 co-expression, indicating their less differentiated proliferative phenotype.
Conclusions and Significance
Our results suggest that a previously identified role for PAX3, that of regulator of an undifferentiated plastic state, may operate in melanocytes of normal skin. This role, possibly required for cellular response to environmental stimuli, may contribute to formation and development of melanocytic lesions in which PAX3 expression is prominent.
PMCID: PMC2858648  PMID: 20421967
24.  Activation of Pax3 target genes is necessary but not sufficient for neurogenesis in the ophthalmic trigeminal placode 
Developmental biology  2008;326(2):314-326.
Vertebrate cranial neurogenic placodes are relatively simple model systems for investigating the control of sensory neurogenesis. The ophthalmic trigeminal (opV) placode, for which the earliest specific marker is the paired domain homeodomain transcription factor Pax3, forms cutaneous sensory neurons in the ophthalmic lobe of the trigeminal ganglion. We previously showed that Pax3 expression in avian opV placode cells correlates with specification and commitment to a Pax3+, cutaneous sensory neuron fate. Pax3 can act as a transcriptional activator or repressor, depending on the cellular context. We show using mouse Splotch2H mutants that Pax3 is necessary for the normal neuronal differentiation of opV placode cells. Using an electroporation construct encoding a Pax3-Engrailed fusion protein, which represses Pax3 target genes, we show that activation of Pax3 target genes is required cell-autonomously within chick opV placode cells for expression of the opV placode markers FGFR4 and Ngn2, maintenance of the preplacodal marker Eya2, expression of Pax3 itself (suggesting that Pax3 autoregulates), neuronal differentiation and delamination. Mis-expression of Pax3 in head ectoderm is sufficient to induce FGFR4 and Ngn2 expression, but neurons do not differentiate, suggesting that additional signals are necessary to enable Pax3+ cells to differentiate as neurons. Mis-expression of Pax3 in the Pax2+ otic and epibranchial placodes also down-regulates Pax2 and disrupts otic vesicle closure, suggesting that Pax3 is sufficient to alter the identity of these cells. Overall, our results suggest that activation of Pax3 target genes is necessary but not sufficient for neurogenesis in the opV placode.
PMCID: PMC2634817  PMID: 19100251
neurogenic placodes; trigeminal; ophthalmic; sensory neurogenesis; Pax3; Splotch; Sp2H; FGFR4; Ngn2; Pax2; otic; epibranchial
25.  Phosphorylation of paxillin by p38MAPK is involved in the neurite extension of PC-12 cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;164(4):593-602.
Cell adhesions play an important role in neurite extension. Paxillin, a focal adhesion adaptor protein involved in focal adhesion dynamics, has been demonstrated to be required for neurite outgrowth. However, the molecular mechanism by which paxillin regulates neurite outgrowth is unknown. Here, we show that paxillin is phosphorylated by p38MAPK in vitro and in nerve growth factor (NGF)–induced PC-12 cells. Ser 85 (Ser 83 for endogenous paxillin) is identified as one of major phosphorylation sites by phosphopeptide mapping and mass spectrometry. Moreover, expression of the Ser 85 → Ala mutant of paxillin (paxS85A) significantly inhibits NGF-induced neurite extension of PC-12 cells, whereas expression of wild-type (wt) paxillin does not influence neurite outgrowth. Further experiments indicate that cells expressing paxS85A exhibit small, clustered focal adhesions which are not normally seen in cells expressing wt paxillin. Although wt paxillin and paxS85A have the same ability to bind vinculin and focal adhesion kinase, wt paxillin more efficiently associates with Pyk2 than paxS85A. Thus, phosphorylation of paxillin is involved in NGF-induced neurite extension of PC-12 cells, probably through regulating focal adhesion organization.
PMCID: PMC2171993  PMID: 14970194
neurons; nerve growth factor; focal adhesions; neurite outgrowth; mass spectrometry

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