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1.  Regional expression of HOXA4 along the aorta and its potential role in human abdominal aortic aneurysms 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:9.
The infrarenal abdominal aorta exhibits increased disease susceptibility relative to other aortic regions. Allograft studies exchanging thoracic and abdominal segments showed that regional susceptibility is maintained regardless of location, suggesting substantial roles for embryological origin, tissue composition and site-specific gene expression.
We analyzed gene expression with microarrays in baboon aortas, and found that members of the HOX gene family exhibited spatial expression differences. HOXA4 was chosen for further study, since it had decreased expression in the abdominal compared to the thoracic aorta. Western blot analysis from 24 human aortas demonstrated significantly higher HOXA4 protein levels in thoracic compared to abdominal tissues (P < 0.001). Immunohistochemical staining for HOXA4 showed nuclear and perinuclear staining in endothelial and smooth muscle cells in aorta. The HOXA4 transcript levels were significantly decreased in human abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) compared to age-matched non-aneurysmal controls (P < 0.00004). Cultured human aortic endothelial and smooth muscle cells stimulated with INF-γ (an important inflammatory cytokine in AAA pathogenesis) showed decreased levels of HOXA4 protein (P < 0.0007).
Our results demonstrated spatial variation in expression of HOXA4 in human aortas that persisted into adulthood and that downregulation of HOXA4 expression was associated with AAAs, an important aortic disease of the ageing population.
PMCID: PMC3125234  PMID: 21627813
2.  The Truncated Hoxa1 Protein Interacts with Hoxa1 and Pbx1 in Stem Cells 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2009;106(3):427-443.
Hox genes contain a homeobox encoding a 60-amino acid DNA binding sequence. The Hoxa-1 gene (Hox1.6, ERA1) encodes two alternatively spliced mRNAs that encode distinct proteins, one with the homeodomain (Hoxa1-993), and another protein lacking this domain (Hoxa1-399). The functions of Hoxa1-399 are unknown. We detected Hoxa1-993 and Hoxa1-399 by immunoprecipitation using Hoxa1 antibodies. To assess whether Hoxa1-399 functions in cellular differentiation we analyzed Hoxb1, a Hoxa1 target gene. Hoxa1-993 and its cofactor, Pbx1, bind to the Hoxb1 SOct-R3 promoter to transcriptionally activate a luciferase reporter. Results from F9 stem cells that stably express ectopic Hoxa1-399 (the F9-399 line) show that Hoxa1-399 reduces this transcriptional activation. Gel shift assays demonstrate that Hoxa1-399 reduces Hoxa1-993/Pbx1 binding to the Hoxb1 SOct-R3 region. GST-pull down experiments suggest that Hoxa1-399, Hoxa1-993, and Pbx1 form a trimer. However, the F9-399 line exhibits no differences in RA-induced proliferation arrest or endogenous Hoxb1, Pbx1, Hoxa5, Cyp26a1, GATA4, or Meis mRNA levels when compared to F9 wild type.
PMCID: PMC3923656  PMID: 19115252
Homeobox; Transcription Factor; Splice Variant; cell differentiation; F9 cells; retinoids; Hoxb1; Pbx; teratocarcinoma; stem cell; vitamin A
3.  Homeobox A7 increases cell proliferation by up-regulation of epidermal growth factor receptor expression in human granulosa cells 
Homeobox (HOX) genes encode transcription factors, which regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, adhesion, and migration. The deregulation of HOX genes is frequently associated with human reproductive system disorders. However, knowledge regarding the role of HOX genes in human granulosa cells is limited.
To determine the role of HOXA7 in the regulation and associated mechanisms of cell proliferation in human granulosa cells, HOXA7 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressions were examined in primary granulosa cells (hGCs), an immortalized human granulosa cell line, SVOG, and a granulosa tumor cell line, KGN, by real-time PCR and Western blotting. To manipulate the expression of HOXA7, the HOXA7 specific siRNA was used to knockdown HOXA7 in KGN. Conversely, HOXA7 was overexpressed in SVOG by transfection with the pcDNA3.1-HOAX7 vector. Cell proliferation was measured by the MTT assay.
Our results show that HOXA7 and EGFR were overexpressed in KGN cells compared to hGCs and SVOG cells. Knockdown of HOXA7 in KGN cells significantly decreased cell proliferation and EGFR expression. Overexpression of HOXA7 in SVOG cells significantly promoted cell growth and EGFR expression. Moreover, the EGF-induced KGN proliferation was abrogated, and the activation of downstream signaling was diminished when HOXA7 was knocked down. Overexpression of HOXA7 in SVOG cells had an opposite effect.
Our present study reveals a novel mechanistic role for HOXA7 in modulating granulosa cell proliferation via the regulation of EGFR. This finding contributes to the knowledge of the pro-proliferation effect of HOXA7 in granulosa cell growth and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2904782  PMID: 20540809
4.  Chicken HOXA3 Gene: Its Expression Pattern and Role in Branchial Nerve Precursor Cell Migration 
In vertebrates, the proximal and distal sensory ganglia of the branchial nerves are derived from neural crest cells (NCCs) and placodes, respectively. We previously reported that in Hoxa3 knockout mouse embryos, NCCs and placode-derived cells of the glossopharyngeal nerve were defective in their migration. In this report, to determine the cell-type origin for this Hoxa3 knockout phenotype, we blocked the expression of the gene with antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MO) specifically in either NCCs/neural tube or placodal cells of chicken embryos. Our results showed that HOXA3 function was required for the migration of the epibranchial placode-derived cells and that HOXA3 regulated this cell migration in both NCCs/neural tube and placodal cells. We also report that the expression pattern of chicken HOXA3 was slightly different from that of mouse Hoxa3.
PMCID: PMC3030145  PMID: 21278919
Hoxa3; branchial nerve; neural crest; placode; axon guidance; hindbrain; cell migration
5.  Hoxa9 Regulates Flt3 in Lymphohematopoietic Progenitors 
Early B cell factor (EBF) is a transcription factor essential for specification and commitment to the B cell fate. In this study, we show downregulation of a developmentally regulated cluster of hoxa genes, notably hoxa9, coincides with induction of EBF at the Pro-B cell stage of B cell differentiation. Analysis of the hematopoietic progenitor compartment in Hoxa9−/− mice revealed significantly reduced frequencies and expression levels of Flt3, a cytokine receptor important for lymphoid priming and the generation of B cell precursors (BCPs). We show that Hoxa9 directly regulates the flt3 gene. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed binding of Hoxa9 to the flt3 promoter in a lymphoid progenitor cell line. Knockdown of Hoxa9 significantly reduced Flt3 transcription and expression. Conversely, forced expression of Hoxa9 increased Flt3 transcription and expression in a Pro-B cell line that expressed low levels of Flt3. Hoxa9 inversely correlated with ebf1 in ex vivo-isolated bone marrow progenitors and BCPs, suggesting that EBF might function to silence a Hoxa9 transcriptional program. Restoration of EBF function in an EBF−/− cell line induced B lineage gene expression but did not directly suppress hoxa9 transcription, revealing alternate mechanisms of Hoxa9 regulation in BCPs. These data provide new insight into Hoxa9 function and regulation during lymphoid and B cell development. Furthermore, they suggest that failure to upregulate Flt3 provides a molecular basis for the lymphoid/early B cell deficiencies in Hoxa9−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC3907951  PMID: 20971928
6.  The generation and expression of a Hoxa11eGFP targeted allele in mice 
Hox genes are crucial for body axis specification during embryonic development. Hoxa11 has been previously reported to play a role in anterioposterior patterning of the axial skeleton, development of the urogenital tract of both sexes, and proximal-distal patterning of the limbs. Hoxa11 expression has also been observed in the neural tube. Herein, we report the generation of a Hoxa11eGFP targeted knock-in allele in mice in which eGFP replaces the first coding exon of Hoxa11 as an in-frame fusion. This allele closely recapitulates the reported mRNA expression patterns for Hoxa11. Hoxa11eGFP can be visualized in the tail, neural tube, limbs, kidneys, and reproductive tract of both sexes. Additionally, homozygous mutants recapitulate reported phenotypes for Hoxa11 loss of function mice, exhibiting loss of fertility in both males and females. This targeted mouse line will prove useful as a vital marker for Hoxa11 protein localization during control (heterozygous) or mutant organogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2855819  PMID: 18942146
Hoxa11; eGFP; targeted mutation
7.  Cdx4 and Menin Co-Regulate Hoxa9 Expression in Hematopoietic Cells 
PLoS ONE  2006;1(1):e47.
Transcription factor Cdx4 and transcriptional coregulator menin are essential for Hoxa9 expression and normal hematopoiesis. However, the precise mechanism underlying Hoxa9 regulation is not clear.
Methods and Findings
Here, we show that the expression level of Hoxa9 is correlated with the location of increased trimethylated histone 3 lysine 4 (H3K4M3). The active and repressive histone modifications co-exist along the Hoxa9 regulatory region. We further demonstrate that both Cdx4 and menin bind to the same regulatory region at the Hoxa9 locus in vivo, and co-activate the reporter gene driven by the Hoxa9 cis-elements that contain Cdx4 binding sites. Ablation of menin abrogates Cdx4 access to the chromatin target and significantly reduces both active and repressive histone H3 modifications in the Hoxa9 locus.
These results suggest a functional link among Cdx4, menin and histone modifications in Hoxa9 regulation in hematopoietic cells.
PMCID: PMC1762371  PMID: 17183676
8.  Three trans-acting regulatory functions control hydrogenase synthesis in Alcaligenes eutrophus. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1991;173(6):1845-1854.
Random Tn5 mutagenesis of the regulatory region of megaplasmid pHG1 of Alcaligenes eutrophus led to the identification of three distinct loci designated hoxA, hoxD, and hoxE. Sequencing of the hoxA locus revealed an open reading frame which could code for a polypeptide of 482 amino acids with a molecular mass of 53.5 kDa. A protein of comparable apparent molecular mass was detected in heterologous expression studies with a plasmid-borne copy of the hoxA gene. Amino acid alignments revealed striking homologies between HoxA and the transcriptional activators NifA and NtrC of Klebsiella pneumoniae and HydG of Escherichia coli. HoxA- mutants of A. eutrophus lacked both NAD-reducing soluble hydrogenase and membrane-bound hydrogenase. In HoxA- mutants, the synthesis of beta-galactosidase from a hoxS'-'lacZ operon fusion was drastically reduced, indicating that HoxA is essential for the transcription of hydrogenase genes. Mutants defective in hoxD and hoxE also lacked the catalytic activities of the two hydrogenases; however, in contrast to HoxA- mutants, they contained immunologically detectable NAD-reducing soluble hydrogenase and membrane-bound hydrogenase proteins, although at a reduced level. The low hydrogenase content in the HoxD- and HoxE- mutants correlated with a decrease in beta-galactosidase synthesized under the direction of a hoxS'-'lacZ operon fusion. Thus, hoxD and hoxE apparently intervene both in the regulation of hydrogenase synthesis and in subsequent steps leading to the formation of catalytically active enzymes.
PMCID: PMC207712  PMID: 2001989
9.  WT1 represses HOX gene expression in the regulation of gynaecologic tumour histologic type 
Journal of cellular and molecular medicine  2009;13(11-12):4522-4531.
Homeobox genes encode transcription factors that dictate developmental identity, including that of the Mullerian tract. These genes also direct differential Mullerian transformation of the ovarian cancer cells. The homeobox gene HOXA10 controls uterine organogenesis during embryonic development and similarly is expressed in endometroid epithelial ovarian cancer. Here we confirmed aberrant regulation of HOXA10 expression in epithelial uterine and ovarian carcinomas. We identified a HOXA10 epithelial regulatory element containing an enhancer that drove HOXA10 expression specifically in gynaecologic epithelium. We further identified an adjoining dominant repressor element that restricted regulation by the epithelial enhancer to a subset of epithelial cell types. The repressor contained two functional WT1 binding sites. We identified a strong inverse correlation between HOXA10 expression and that of the Wilms’ Tumour 1 (WT1) gene in multiple benign and malignant gynaecologic tissues, suggesting functionality of the WT1 sites in the repressor. Mutation of the two WT1 binding sites abolished WT1 binding to the element as well as the ability to affect epithelial enhancer activity in reporter assays. Similarly, decreased expression of WT1 using siRNA prevented repressor activity. The Mullerian phenotype seen in ovarian cancer is dependent on gain of HOX gene expression secondary to the loss of WT1-mediated HOX repression. This suggests that Gynaecologic epithelial histologic type is regulated by WT1 expression through its selective repression of HOX genes.
PMCID: PMC3107857  PMID: 19017365
WT1; HOXA10; uterine cancer; ovarian cancer
10.  HOXA9 Participates in the Transcriptional Activation of E-Selectin in Endothelial Cells▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(12):4207-4216.
The homeobox gene HOXA9 has recently been shown to be an important regulator of endothelial cell (EC) differentiation and activation in addition to its role in embryonic development and hematopoiesis. In this report, we have determined that the EC-leukocyte adhesion molecule E-selectin is a key target for HOXA9. The depletion of HOXA9 protein in ECs resulted in a significant and specific decrease in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)-induced E-selectin gene expression. In addition, HOXA9 specifically activated the E-selectin gene promoter in ECs. Progressive deletional analyses together with site-specific mutagenesis of the E-selectin promoter indicated that the Abd-B-like HOX DNA-binding motif, CAATTTTATTAA, located in the proximal region spanning bp −210 to −221 upstream of the transcription start site was crucial for the promoter induction by HOXA9. Both HOXA9 in EC nuclear extract and recombinant HOXA9 protein bound to this sequence in vitro. Moreover, we showed that HOXA9 binds temporally, in a TNF-α-dependent manner, to the region containing this Abd-B-like element in vivo. We have thus identified a novel and functionally critical cis-regulatory element for TNF-α-mediated transient expression of the E-selectin gene. Further, we provide evidence that HOXA9 acts as an obligate proinflammatory factor by mediating cytokine induction of E-selectin.
PMCID: PMC1900059  PMID: 17452460
11.  Hoxa11 and Hoxd11 Regulate Chondrocyte Differentiation Upstream of Runx2 and Shox2 in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43553.
During limb development, posterior Hox genes of the Hoxa- and Hoxd cluster provide positional information along the limb axis. Here we report a new function for Hoxa11 and Hoxd11 in regulating the early steps of chondrocyte differentiation. We analyzed forelimbs of Hoxa11−/−;d11−/− and Ulnaless mice, which are characterized by specifically shortened zeugopods. By detailed morphological and molecular analyses, we show that loss of Hoxa11 and Hoxd11 in the ulna of both mutants leads to an arrest of chondrocyte differentiation at a step before the separation into round and columnar cells takes place. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Hoxa11 and Hoxd11 act upstream of Runx2 and Shox2, two key regulators of chondrocyte differentiation. We hypothesize that Runx2 activates Shox2 in early chondrocytes, which at later stages induces Runx2 expression to regulate hypertrophic differentiation. These results give insight into mechanisms by which positional information might be translated into a specific bone pattern.
PMCID: PMC3423364  PMID: 22916278
12.  An ultraconserved Hox–Pbx responsive element resides in the coding sequence of Hoxa2 and is active in rhombomere 4 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(10):3214-3225.
The Hoxa2 gene has a fundamental role in vertebrate craniofacial and hindbrain patterning. Segmental control of Hoxa2 expression is crucial to its function and several studies have highlighted transcriptional regulatory elements governing its activity in distinct rhombomeres. Here, we identify a putative Hox–Pbx responsive cis-regulatory sequence, which resides in the coding sequence of Hoxa2 and is an important component of Hoxa2 regulation in rhombomere (r) 4. By using cell transfection and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that this regulatory sequence is responsive to paralogue group 1 and 2 Hox proteins and to their Pbx co-factors. Importantly, we also show that the Hox–Pbx element cooperates with a previously reported Hoxa2 r4 intronic enhancer and that its integrity is required to drive specific reporter gene expression in r4 upon electroporation in the chick embryo hindbrain. Thus, both intronic as well as exonic regulatory sequences are involved in Hoxa2 segmental regulation in the developing r4. Finally, we found that the Hox–Pbx exonic element is embedded in a larger 205-bp long ultraconserved genomic element (UCE) shared by all vertebrate genomes. In this respect, our data further support the idea that extreme conservation of UCE sequences may be the result of multiple superposed functional and evolutionary constraints.
PMCID: PMC2425489  PMID: 18417536
13.  HOXA5 Regulates hMLH1 Expression in Breast Cancer Cells1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2006;8(4):250-258.
Homeobox protein HOXA5 functions as a transcriptional factor for genes that are not only involved in segmentation identity but also in cell differentiation. Although HOXA5 has been shown to regulate the expression of the tumor-suppressor protein p53, its role in breast tumorigenesis is not well understood. Using yeast as a model system, we now demonstrate that overexpression of HOXA5 in yeast can be used to identify downstream target genes that are homologous in humans. One such identified gene was that of the mismatch repair pathway component MutL homolog 1. Analysis of the promoter region of the gene for human MutL homolog 1 (hMLH1) displayed several putative HOXA5-binding sites. In transient transfection experiments, the overexpression of HOXA5 transactivated the hMLH1 promoter-reporter construct. In addition, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay using a human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 demonstrated that HOXA5 binds to the hMLH1 promoter in vivo. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, in the presence of HOXA5, there is an increase in in vivo repair activity in MCF-7 cells. Taken together, our results indicate that HOXA5 is a transcriptional regulator of hMLH1 in breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC1600677  PMID: 16756717
Breast cancer; mismatch repair; homeotic gene; yeast; promoter analyses; HOX, homeotic; hMLH1, human MutL homolog 1; ChIP, chromatin immunoprecipitation; MMR, mismatch repair; Luc, luciferase
14.  Two isoforms of HOXA9 function differently but work synergistically in human MLL-rearranged leukemia 
Blood cells, molecules & diseases  2012;49(2):102-106.
HOXA9 plays a critical role in both normal hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis, particularly in the development and maintenance of mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearranged leukemia. Through reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis of HOXA9 transcripts in human leukemia and normal bone marrow samples, we identified a truncated isoform of HOXA9, namely HOXA9T, and found that both HOXA9T and canonical HOXA9 were highly expressed in leukemia cell lines bearing MLL rearrangements, relative to human normal bone marrow cells or other subtypes of leukemia cells. A frameshift in HOXA9T in exon I causes a premature stop codon upstream of the PBX binding domain and the homeodomain, which leads to the generation of a non-homeodomain-containing protein. Unlike the canonical HOXA9, HOXA9T alone cannot transform normal bone marrow progenitor cells. Moreover, HOXA9T cannot cooperate with MEIS1 to transform cells, despite the presence of a MEIS1-binding domain. Remarkably, although the truncated isoforms of many proteins function as dominant-negative competitors or inhibitors of their full-length counterparts, this is not the case for HOXA9T; instead, HOXA9T synergized with HOXA9 in transforming mouse normal bone marrow progenitor cells through promoting self-renewal and proliferation of the cells. Collectively, our data indicate that both truncated and full-length forms of HOXA9 are highly expressed in human MLL-rearranged leukemia, and the truncated isoform of HOXA9 might also play an oncogenic role by cooperating with canonical HOXA9 in cell transformation and leukemogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3399022  PMID: 22633751
HOXA9; HOXA9T; isoforms; leukemia
15.  Expanded HOXA13 Polyalanine Tracts in the Monotreme 
Evolution & development  2008;10(4):433-438.
The N-terminal region of human HOXA13 has seven discrete polyalanine tracts. Our previous analysis of these tracts in multiple major vertebrate clades suggested that three are mammal-specific. We now report the N-terminal HOXA13 repetitive tract structures in the monotreme Tachyglossus aculeatus (echidna). Contrary to our expectations, echidna HOXA13 possesses a unique set of polyalanine tracts and an unprecedented polyglycine tract. The data support the conclusion that the emergence of expanded polyalanine tracts in proteins occurred very early in the stem lineage that gave rise to mammals, between 162 and 315 MYA.
PMCID: PMC3152211  PMID: 18638320
HOXA13; polyalanine; monotreme; trinucleotide repeat expansion; echidna
16.  Conservation and Divergence of Regulatory Strategies at Hox Loci and the Origin of Tetrapod Digits 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(1):e1001773.
During development, expression of the Hoxa and Hoxd genes in zebrafish fins and mouse limbs are regulated via a conserved chromatin structure. However, zebrafish lack certain regulatory elements required to produce digits, revealing that radials—the fin's bony elements—are likely not homologous to tetrapod digits.
The evolution of tetrapod limbs from fish fins enabled the conquest of land by vertebrates and thus represents a key step in evolution. Despite the use of comparative gene expression analyses, critical aspects of this transformation remain controversial, in particular the origin of digits. Hoxa and Hoxd genes are essential for the specification of the different limb segments and their functional abrogation leads to large truncations of the appendages. Here we show that the selective transcription of mouse Hoxa genes in proximal and distal limbs is related to a bimodal higher order chromatin structure, similar to that reported for Hoxd genes, thus revealing a generic regulatory strategy implemented by both gene clusters during limb development. We found the same bimodal chromatin architecture in fish embryos, indicating that the regulatory mechanism used to pattern tetrapod limbs may predate the divergence between fish and tetrapods. However, when assessed in mice, both fish regulatory landscapes triggered transcription in proximal rather than distal limb territories, supporting an evolutionary scenario whereby digits arose as tetrapod novelties through genetic retrofitting of preexisting regulatory landscapes. We discuss the possibility to consider regulatory circuitries, rather than expression patterns, as essential parameters to define evolutionary synapomorphies.
Author Summary
Our upper limbs differ from fish fins, notably by their subdivision into arm and hand regions, which are separated by a complex articulation, the wrist. The development of this anatomy is associated with two distinct waves of expression of the Hoxa and Hoxd genes during development. Would such a shared expression pattern be sufficient to infer homology between fish fins and mouse limbs? We investigated this question here, looking at whether the two phases of Hox gene transcription that are observed during tetrapod limb development also occur during zebrafish fin development. We find the answer is “not quite.” For although the mechanisms that regulate the expression of Hoxa and Hoxd are comparable between zebrafish fins and mouse limbs, when the genomic regions that regulate Hox gene expression in fish fins are introduced into transgenic mice, they trigger Hox gene expression in only the proximal limb segment (the segment nearest the body) and not in the presumptive digits. We conclude that although fish have the Hox regulatory toolkit to produce digits, this potential is not utilized as it is in tetrapods, and as a result we propose that fin radials—the bony elements of fins—are not homologous to tetrapod digits.
PMCID: PMC3897358  PMID: 24465181
17.  HOXA9 Modulates Its Oncogenic Partner Meis1 To Influence Normal Hematopoiesis▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(18):5181-5192.
While investigating the mechanism of action of the HOXA9 protein, we serendipitously identified Meis1 as a HOXA9 regulatory target. Since HOXA9 and MEIS1 play key developmental roles, are cooperating DNA binding proteins and leukemic oncoproteins, and are important for normal hematopoiesis, the regulation of Meis1 by its partner protein is of interest. Loss of Hoxa9 caused downregulation of the Meis1 mRNA and protein, while forced HOXA9 expression upregulated Meis1. Hoxa9 and Meis1 expression was correlated in hematopoietic progenitors and acute leukemias. Meis1+/− Hoxa9−/− deficient mice, generated to test HOXA9 regulation of endogenous Meis1, were small and had reduced bone marrow Meis1 mRNA and significant defects in fluorescence-activated cell sorting-enumerated monocytes, mature and pre/pro-B cells, and functional B-cell progenitors. These data indicate that HOXA9 modulates Meis1 during normal murine hematopoiesis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis did not reveal direct binding of HOXA9 to Meis1 promoter/enhancer regions. However, Creb1 and Pknox1, whose protein products have previously been reported to induce Meis1, were shown to be direct targets of HOXA9. Loss of Hoxa9 resulted in a decrease in Creb1 and Pknox1 mRNA, and forced expression of CREB1 in Hoxa9−/− bone marrow cells increased Meis1 mRNA almost as well as HOXA9, suggesting that CREB1 may mediate HOXA9 modulation of Meis1 expression.
PMCID: PMC2738281  PMID: 19620287
18.  Hoxa1 lineage-tracing indicates a direct role for Hoxa1 in development of the inner ear, the heart and the third rhombomere 
Developmental biology  2010;341(2):499-509.
Loss of Hoxa1 function results in severe defects of the brainstem, inner ear and cranial ganglia in humans and mice as well as cardiovascular abnormalities in humans. Since Hoxa1 is expressed very transiently during an early embryonic stage, it has been difficult to determine whether Hoxa1 plays a direct role in the precursors of the affected organs or if all defects result from indirect effects due to mispatterning of the hindbrain. In this study we use a Hoxa1-IRES-Cre mouse to genetically label the early Hoxa1-expressing cells and determine their contribution to each of the affected organs, allowing us to conclude in which precursor tissue Hoxa1 is expressed. We found Hoxa1 lineage-labeled cells in all tissues expected to be derived from the Hoxa1 domain, such as the facial and abducens nuclei and nerves as well as r4 neural crest cells. Additionally, we detected the lineage in derivatives that were not thought to have expressed Hoxa1 during development. In the brainstem the anterior border of the lineage was found to be in r3, which is more anterior than previously reported. We also observed an interesting pattern of the lineage in the inner ear, namely a strong contribution to the otic epithelium with the exception of sensory patches. Moreover, lineage-labeled cells were detected in the atria and outflow tract of the developing heart. In conclusion, Hoxa1 lineage-tracing uncovered new domains of Hoxa1 expression in rhombomere 3, the otic epithelium and cardiac precursors, suggesting a more direct role for Hoxa1 in development of these tissues than previously believed.
PMCID: PMC2862106  PMID: 20171203
Hoxa1; hindbrain; inner ear; heart
19.  The non-coding RNA Mistral activates Hoxa6 and Hoxa7 expression and stem cell differentiation by recruiting Mll1 to chromatin 
Molecular cell  2011;43(6):1040-1046.
The epigenetic activator Mixed lineage leukemia 1 (Mll1) is paramount for embryonic development and hematopoiesis. Here we demonstrate that the long, non-coding RNA (lncRNA) Mistral (Mira) activates transcription of the homeotic genes Hoxa6 and Hoxa7 in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) by recruiting Mll1 to chromatin. The Mira gene is located in the spacer DNA region (SDR) separating Hoxa6 and Hoxa7, transcriptionally silent in mESCs, and activated by retinoic acid. Mira-mediated recruitment of Mll1 to the Mira gene triggers dynamic changes in chromosome conformation, culminating in activation of Hoxa6 and Hoxa7 transcription. Hoxa6 and Hoxa7 activate the expression of genes involved in germ layer specification during mESC differentiation in a cooperative and redundant fashion. Our results connect the lncRNA Mira with the recruitment of Mll1 to target genes and implicate lncRNAs in epigenetic activation of gene expression during vertebrate cell fate determination.
PMCID: PMC3176448  PMID: 21925392
20.  Tail gut endoderm and gut/genitourinary/tail development: a new tissue-specific role for Hoxa13 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2002;129(3):551-561.
Hoxa13 is expressed early in the caudal mesoderm and endoderm of the developing hindgut. The tissue specific roles of Hoxa13 function have not been described. Hand-Foot-Genital syndrome, a rare dominantly inherited human malformation syndrome characterized by distal extremity and genitourinary anomalies, is caused by mutations in the Hoxa13 gene (HFGa13). We show evidence that one specific HFGa13 mutation likely acts as a dominant negative in vivo. When chick HFGa13 is overexpressed in the chick’s caudal endoderm early in development, caudal structural malformations occur. The phenotype is specific to HFGa13 expression in the posterior endoderm and includes taillessness and severe gut/genitounrinary (GGU) malformations. Finally, we show that chick HFGa13 negatively regulates expression of Hoxd13 and antagonizes functions of both endogenous Hoxa13 and Hoxd13 proteins. We suggest a fundamental role for epithelial specific expression of Hoxa13 in the epithelial-mesenchymal interaction necessary for tail growth and posterior GGU patterning.
PMCID: PMC2435615  PMID: 11830557
Abnormalities; Multiple; etiology; genetics; Animals; Body Patterning; Chick Embryo; Endoderm; physiology; Extremities; embryology; Fibroblast Growth Factor 8; Fibroblast Growth Factors; metabolism; Homeodomain Proteins; genetics; metabolism; Humans; Intestines; embryology; Limb Deformities; Congenital; etiology; genetics; Molecular Sequence Data; Mutation; Sequence Deletion; Syndrome; Tail; abnormalities; embryology; Transcription Factors; Urogenital Abnormalities; etiology; genetics; Urogenital System; embryology; cloaca; tail; colon; hindgut; HOX; HOXA13; chick
21.  Temperature tolerance of hydrogenase expression in Alcaligenes eutrophus is conferred by a single amino acid exchange in the transcriptional activator HoxA. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(9):2373-2380.
Expression of the soluble (SH) and membrane-bound (MBH) hydrogenases in the facultatively lithoautotrophic bacterium Alcaligenes eutrophus is dependent on the transcriptional activator HoxA and the alternative sigma factor sigma 54. Deletion analysis revealed that a region 170 bp upstream of the transcriptional start of the SH operon is necessary for high-level promoter activity. Mobility shift assays with DNA fragments containing the SH upstream region and purified beta-galactosidase-HoxA fusion protein isolated from Escherichia coli or authentic HoxA isolated by immunoaffinity chromatography from A. eutrophus failed to detect specific binding. In contrast, A. eutrophus extracts enriched for HoxA by heparin-Sepharose chromatography and ammonium sulfate fractionation produced a weak but discrete shift in the mobility of the target DNA. This effect was not observed with comparable extracts prepared from hoxA mutants. A similar experiment using antibodies against HoxA confirmed that HoxA was responsible for the observed mobility shift. Extracts prepared from a temperature-tolerant mutant of A. eutrophus gave a stronger retardation than did those from the wild type. Unlike the wild type, the hox(Tr) mutant is able to grow with hydrogen at temperatures above 33 degrees C because of a mutation in the regulatory gene hoxA. In this paper, we show that a single amino acid substitution (Gly-468-->Val) in the C-terminal part of HoxA is responsible for temperature tolerance. The SH upstream region also contains sequence motifs resembling the E. coli integration host factor (IHF) binding site, and purified E. coli IHF protein shifted the corresponding indicator fragment.
PMCID: PMC176894  PMID: 7730267
22.  Genome-wide occupancy links Hoxa2 to Wnt–β-catenin signaling in mouse embryonic development 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(9):3990-4001.
The regulation of gene expression is central to developmental programs and largely depends on the binding of sequence-specific transcription factors with cis-regulatory elements in the genome. Hox transcription factors specify the spatial coordinates of the body axis in all animals with bilateral symmetry, but a detailed knowledge of their molecular function in instructing cell fates is lacking. Here, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation with massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) to identify Hoxa2 genomic locations in a time and space when it is actively instructing embryonic development in mouse. Our data reveals that Hoxa2 has large genome coverage and potentially regulates thousands of genes. Sequence analysis of Hoxa2-bound regions identifies high occurrence of two main classes of motifs, corresponding to Hox and Pbx–Hox recognition sequences. Examination of the binding targets of Hoxa2 faithfully captures the processes regulated by Hoxa2 during embryonic development; in addition, it uncovers a large cluster of potential targets involved in the Wnt-signaling pathway. In vivo examination of canonical Wnt–β-catenin signaling reveals activity specifically in Hoxa2 domain of expression, and this is undetectable in Hoxa2 mutant embryos. The comprehensive mapping of Hoxa2-binding sites provides a framework to study Hox regulatory networks in vertebrate developmental processes.
PMCID: PMC3351182  PMID: 22223247
23.  Molecular Study of a Hoxa2 Gain-of-Function in Chondrogenesis: A Model of Idiopathic Proportionate Short Stature 
In a previous study using transgenic mice ectopically expressing Hoxa2 during chondrogenesis, we associated the animal phenotype to human idiopathic proportionate short stature. Our analysis showed that this overall size reduction was correlated with a negative influence of Hoxa2 at the first step of endochondral ossification. However, the molecular pathways leading to such phenotype are still unknown. Using protein immunodetection and histological techniques comparing transgenic mice to controls, we show here that the persistent expression of Hoxa2 in chondrogenic territories provokes a general down-regulation of the main factors controlling the differentiation cascade, such as Bapx1, Bmp7, Bmpr1a, Ihh, Msx1, Pax9, Sox6, Sox9 and Wnt5a. These data confirm the impairment of chondrogenic differentiation by Hoxa2 overexpression. They also show a selective effect of Hoxa2 on endochondral ossification processes since Gdf5 and Gdf10, and Bmp4 or PthrP were up-regulated and unmodified, respectively. Since Hoxa2 deregulation in mice induces a proportionate short stature phenotype mimicking human idiopathic conditions, our results give an insight into understanding proportionate short stature pathogenesis by highlighting molecular factors whose combined deregulation may be involved in such a disease.
PMCID: PMC3821620  PMID: 24129174
proportionate short stature; endochondral ossification; Hoxa2; chondrogenesis
24.  Reversing HOXA9 Oncogene Activation by PI3K Inhibition: Epigenetic Mechanism and Prognostic Significance in Human Glioblastoma 
Cancer research  2010;70(2):453-462.
HOXA genes encode critical transcriptional regulators of embryonic development that have been implicated in cancer. In this study, we documented functional relevance and mechanism of activation of HOXA9 in glioblastoma (GBM), the most common malignant brain tumor. Expression of HOXA genes was investigated using RT-PCR in primary gliomas and glioblastoma cell lines and was validated in two sets of expression array data. In a subset of GBM, HOXA genes are aberrantly activated within confined chromosomal domains. Transcriptional activation of the HOXA cluster was reversible by a PI3K inhibitor through an epigenetic mechanism involving histone H3K27 trimethylation. Functional studies of HOXA9 showed its capacity to decrease apoptosis and increase cellular proliferation along with TRAIL resistance. Notably, aberrant expression of HOXA9 was independently predictive of shorter overall and progression-free survival in two GBM patient sets, and improved survival prediction by MGMT promoter methylation. Thus, HOXA9 activation is a novel, independent and negative prognostic marker in GBM that is reversible through a PI3K-associated epigenetic mechanism. Our findings suggest a transcriptional pathway through which PI3K activates oncogenic HOXA expression with implications for mTOR or PI3K targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC2849935  PMID: 20068170
glioblastoma; prognosis; PI3K; HOXA; MGMT
25.  Molecular Mechanisms of Treatment Resistance in Endometriosis: The Role of Progesterone–Hox Gene Interactions 
HOX genes, encoding homeodomain transcription factors, are dynamically expressed in endometrium, where they are necessary for endometrial growth, differentiation, and implantation. In human endometrium, the expression of HOXA10 and HOXA11 is driven by sex steroids, with peak expression occurring at time of implantation in response to rising progesterone levels. However, the maximal HOXA10 and HOXA11 expression fails to occur in women with endometriosis. In endometriosis, altered progesterone receptor expression or diminished activity may lead to attenuated or dysregulated progesterone response and decreased expression of progesterone-responsive genes including HOX genes in the eutopic endometrium. In turn, other mediators of endometrial receptivity that are regulated by HOX genes, such as pinopodes, αvβ3 integrin, and IGFBP-1, are downregulated in endometriosis. HOXA10 hypermethylation has recently been demonstrated to silence HOXA10 gene expression and account for decreased HOXA10 in the endometrium of women with endometriosis. Silencing of progesterone target genes by methylation is an epigenetic mechanism that mediates progesterone resistance. The relatively permanent nature of methylation may explain the widespread failure of treatments for endometriosis-related infertility.
PMCID: PMC3107856  PMID: 20104430
HOX genes; implantation; endometrium; endometriosis

Results 1-25 (907399)