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1.  Phenotype Restricted Genome-Wide Association Study Using a Gene-Centric Approach Identifies Three Low-Risk Neuroblastoma Susceptibility Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1002026.
Neuroblastoma is a malignant neoplasm of the developing sympathetic nervous system that is notable for its phenotypic diversity. High-risk patients typically have widely disseminated disease at diagnosis and a poor survival probability, but low-risk patients frequently have localized tumors that are almost always cured with little or no chemotherapy. Our genome-wide association study (GWAS) has identified common variants within FLJ22536, BARD1, and LMO1 as significantly associated with neuroblastoma and more robustly associated with high-risk disease. Here we show that a GWAS focused on low-risk cases identified SNPs within DUSP12 at 1q23.3 (P = 2.07×10−6), DDX4 and IL31RA both at 5q11.2 (P = 2.94×10−6 and 6.54×10−7 respectively), and HSD17B12 at 11p11.2 (P = 4.20×10−7) as being associated with the less aggressive form of the disease. These data demonstrate the importance of robust phenotypic data in GWAS analyses and identify additional susceptibility variants for neuroblastoma.
Author Summary
Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor outside the central nervous system and is accountable for 10% of the mortality rate of all children's cancers. It has distinctive clinical behaviors and is categorized into different risk groups: high-risk, intermediate-risk, and low-risk. Genome-wide association studies have reported a number of genetic variations predisposing to high-risk neuroblastoma. This study focuses on the low-risk neuroblastoma group and identifies four novel genes (DUSP12, DDX4, IL31RA, and HSD17B12) at three distinct genomic positions that harbor disease-causing variants. This study also reports several gene sets that are enriched in overall neuroblastoma as well as in both high-risk and low-risk groups. Also of importance is that this study adopts a new computational method that identifies genes, instead of only one single nucleotide polymorphism, as disease-causing variants. Shown to have superior power of detection genome-wide association signals for neuroblastoma, the methodology presented in this study has great potential applications in case-control association studies in other diseases.
PMCID: PMC3060064  PMID: 21436895
2.  Oncogenic LMO3 Collaborates with HEN2 to Enhance Neuroblastoma Cell Growth through Transactivation of Mash1 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19297.
Expression of Mash1 is dysregulated in human neuroblastoma. We have also reported that LMO3 (LIM-only protein 3) has an oncogenic potential in collaboration with neuronal transcription factor HEN2 in neuroblastoma. However, the precise molecular mechanisms of its transcriptional regulation remain elusive. Here we found that LMO3 forms a complex with HEN2 and acts as an upstream mediator for transcription of Mash1 in neuroblastoma. The high levels of LMO3 or Mash1 mRNA expression were significantly associated with poor prognosis in 100 primary neuroblastomas. The up-regulation of Mash1 remarkably accelerated the proliferation of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, while siRNA-mediated knockdown of LMO3 induced inhibition of growth of SH-SY5Y cells in association with a significant down-regulation of Mash1. Additionally, overexpression of both LMO3 and HEN2 induced expression of Mash1, suggesting that they might function as a transcriptional activator for Mash1. Luciferase reporter assay demonstrated that the co-expression of LMO3 and HEN2 attenuates HES1 (a negative regulator for Mash1)-dependent reduction of luciferase activity driven by the Mash1 promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed that LMO3 and HEN2 reduce the amount of HES1 recruited onto putative HES1-binding sites and E-box within the Mash1 promoter. Furthermore, both LMO3 and HEN2 are physically associated with HES1 by immunoprecipitation assay. Thus, our present results suggest that a transcriptional complex of LMO3 and HEN2 may contribute to the genesis and malignant phenotype of neuroblastoma by inhibiting HES1 which suppresses the transactivation of Mash1.
PMCID: PMC3088666  PMID: 21573214
3.  Replication of GWAS-identified neuroblastoma risk loci strengthens the role of BARD1 and affirms the cumulative effect of genetic variations on disease susceptibility 
Carcinogenesis  2012;34(3):605-611.
Several neuroblastoma (NB) susceptibility loci have been identified within LINC00340, BARD1, LMO1, DUSP12, HSD17B12, DDX4, IL31RA, HACE1 and LIN28B by genome-wide association (GWA) studies including European American individuals. To validate and comprehensively evaluate the impact of the identified NB variants on disease risk and phenotype, we analyzed 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in an Italian population (370 cases and 809 controls). We assessed their regulatory activity on gene expression in lymphoblastoid (LCLs) and NB cell lines. We evaluated the cumulative effect of the independent loci on NB risk and high-risk phenotype development in Italian and European American (1627 cases and 2575 controls) populations. All NB susceptibility genes replicated in the Italian dataset except for DDX4 and IL31RA, and the most significant SNP was rs6435862 in BARD1 (P = 8.4×10–15). BARD1 showed an additional and independent SNP association (rs7585356). This variant influenced BARD1 mRNA expression in LCLs and NB cell lines. No evidence of epistasis among the NB-associated variants was detected, whereas a cumulative effect of risk variants on NB risk (European Americans: P trend = 6.9×10–30, Italians: P trend = 8.55×1013) and development of high-risk phenotype (European Americans: P trend = 6.9×10–13, Italians: P trend = 2.2×10–1) was observed in a dose-dependent manner. These results provide further evidence that the risk loci identified in GWA studies contribute to NB susceptibility in distinct populations and strengthen the role of BARD1 as major genetic contributor to NB risk. This study shows that even in the absence of interaction the combination of several low-penetrance alleles has potential to distinguish subgroups of patients at different risks of developing NB.
PMCID: PMC3716226  PMID: 23222812
4.  Upstream Distal Regulatory Elements Contact the Lmo2 Promoter in Mouse Erythroid Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52880.
The Lim domain only 2 (Lmo2) gene encodes a transcriptional cofactor critical for the development of hematopoietic stem cells. Several distal regulatory elements have been identified upstream of the Lmo2 gene in the human and mouse genomes that are capable of enhancing reporter gene expression in erythroid cells and may be responsible for the high level transcription of Lmo2 in the erythroid lineage. In this study we investigate how these elements regulate transcription of Lmo2 and whether or not they function cooperatively in the endogenous context. Chromosome conformation capture (3C) experiments show that chromatin-chromatin interactions exist between upstream regulatory elements and the Lmo2 promoter in erythroid cells but that these interactions are absent from kidney where Lmo2 is transcribed at twelve fold lower levels. Specifically, long range chromatin-chromatin interactions occur between the Lmo2 proximal promoter and two broad regions, 3–31 and 66–105 kb upstream of Lmo2, which we term the proximal and distal control regions for Lmo2 (pCR and dCR respectively). Each of these regions is bound by several transcription factors suggesting that multiple regulatory elements cooperate in regulating high level transcription of Lmo2 in erythroid cells. Binding of CTCF and cohesin which support chromatin loops at other loci were also found within the dCR and at the Lmo2 proximal promoter. Intergenic transcription occurs throughout the dCR in erythroid cells but not in kidney suggesting a role for these intergenic transcripts in regulating Lmo2, similar to the broad domain of intergenic transcription observed at the human β-globin locus control region. Our data supports a model in which the dCR functions through a chromatin looping mechanism to contact and enhance Lmo2 transcription specifically in erythroid cells. Furthermore, these chromatin loops are supported by the cohesin complex recruited to both CTCF and transcription factor bound regions.
PMCID: PMC3528669  PMID: 23285212
5.  LMO2 Is a Novel Predictive Marker for a Better Prognosis in Pancreatic Cancer1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2009;11(7):712-719.
LIM domain only 2 (LMO2) has been identified as a novel oncogene associated with carcinogenesis and better prognosis in several malignant tumors. We investigate the involvement of LMO2 in pancreatic cancer.
Experimental Design
We evaluated LMO2 expression in cultured cells, bulk tissues, and microdissected cells from pancreatic cancers by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry.
Of 164 pancreatic cancers, 98 (60%) were positive for LMO2 expression. LMO2 was more frequently detected in high-grade pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions (PanIN-2 and -3) than in low-grade PanIN lesions (PanIN-1A and -1B; P < .001) and was not detected in normal pancreatic ductal epithelium. The LMO2 messenger RNA levels were significantly higher in invasive ductal carcinoma cells than in normal pancreatic cells as evaluated by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses of microdissected cells (P = .036). We also found higher incidence of LMO2 expression in histologic grade G1/G2 cancers than in grade G3 cancers (P < .001). The median survival time of LMO2-positive patients was significantly longer than that of LMO2-negative patients (P < .001), and multivariate analyses revealed that high LMO2 expression was an independent predictor of longer survival (risk ratio, 0.432, P < .001). Even among patients with a positive operative margin, LMO2-positive patients had a significant survival benefit compared with LMO2-negative patients. We further performed a large cohort study (n = 113) to examine the LMO2 messenger RNA levels in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples and found similar results.
LMO2 is a promising marker for predicting a better prognosis in pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC2697357  PMID: 19568416
6.  Human but Not Mouse Adipogenesis Is Critically Dependent on LMO3 
Cell Metabolism  2013;18(1):62-74.
Increased visceral fat is associated with a high risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome and is in part caused by excessive glucocorticoids (GCs). However, the molecular mechanisms remain undefined. We now identify the GC-dependent gene LIM domain only 3 (LMO3) as being selectively upregulated in a depot-specific manner in human obese visceral adipose tissue, localizing primarily in the adipocyte fraction. Visceral LMO3 levels were tightly correlated with expression of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type-1 (HSD11B1), the enzyme responsible for local activation of GCs. In early human adipose stromal cell differentiation, GCs induced LMO3 via the GC receptor and a positive feedback mechanism involving 11βHSD1. No such induction was observed in murine adipogenesis. LMO3 overexpression promoted, while silencing of LMO3 suppressed, adipogenesis via regulation of the proadipogenic PPARγ axis. These results establish LMO3 as a regulator of human adipogenesis and could contribute a mechanism resulting in visceral-fat accumulation in obesity due to excess glucocorticoids.
•LMO3 is a target and amplifier of glucocorticoid action in human fat cells•LMO3 levels are selectively elevated in visceral adipose tissue of obese humans•LMO3 is required for human but not mouse adipocyte differentiation•LMO3 promotes adipogenesis by boosting a proadipogenic PPARγ program
PMCID: PMC3701325  PMID: 23823477
7.  HOX-mediated LMO2 expression in embryonic mesoderm is recapitulated in acute leukaemias 
Oncogene  2013;32(48):5471-5480.
The Lim Domain Only 2 (LMO2) leukaemia oncogene encodes an LIM domain transcriptional cofactor required for early haematopoiesis. During embryogenesis, LMO2 is also expressed in developing tail and limb buds, an expression pattern we now show to be recapitulated in transgenic mice by an enhancer in LMO2 intron 4. Limb bud expression depended on a cluster of HOX binding sites, while posterior tail expression required the HOX sites and two E-boxes. Given the importance of both LMO2 and HOX genes in acute leukaemias, we further demonstrated that the regulatory hierarchy of HOX control of LMO2 is activated in leukaemia mouse models as well as in patient samples. Moreover, Lmo2 knock-down impaired the growth of leukaemic cells, and high LMO2 expression at diagnosis correlated with poor survival in cytogenetically normal AML patients. Taken together, these results establish a regulatory hierarchy of HOX control of LMO2 in normal development, which can be resurrected during leukaemia development. Redeployment of embryonic regulatory hierarchies in an aberrant context is likely to be relevant in human pathologies beyond the specific example of ectopic activation of LMO2.
PMCID: PMC3898495  PMID: 23708655
gene regulation; haematopoiesis; HOX; leukaemia; LMO2
8.  TAL1 and LIM-Only Proteins Synergistically Induce Retinaldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 Expression in T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia by Acting as Cofactors for GATA3 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(12):6939-6950.
Previously, we have shown that TAL1 and the LIM-only protein gene (LMO) are regularly coactivated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). This observation is likely to relate to the findings that TAL1 and LMO are highly synergistic in T-cell tumorigenesis in double-transgenic mice. To understand the molecular mechanisms of functional synergy between TAL1 and LMO in tumorigenesis and transcriptional regulation, we tried to identify downstream target genes regulated by TAL1 and LMO by a subtractive PCR method. One of the isolated genes, that for retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (RALDH2), was regularly expressed in most of the T-ALL cell lines that coexpressed TAL1 and LMO. Exogenously transfected TAL1 and LMO, but not either alone, induced RALDH2 expression in a T-ALL cell line, HPB-ALL, not expressing endogeneous TAL1 or LMO. The RALDH2 transcripts in T-ALL were, however, mostly initiated within the second intron. Promoter analysis revealed that a GATA site in a cryptic promoter in the second intron was essential and sufficient for the TAL1- and LMO-dependent transcriptional activation, and GATA3 binds to this site. In addition, forced expression of GATA3 potentiated the induction of RALDH2 by TAL1 and LMO, and these three factors formed a complex in vivo. Furthermore, a TAL1 mutant not binding to DNA also activated the transcription of RALDH2 in the presence of LMO and GATA3. Collectively, we have identified the RALDH2 gene as a first example of direct transcriptional target genes regulated by TAL1 and LMO in T-ALL. In this case, TAL1 and LMO act as cofactors for GATA3 to activate the transcription of RALDH2.
PMCID: PMC109277  PMID: 9819382
9.  Ablation of LMO4 in glutamatergic neurons impairs leptin control of fat metabolism 
The LIM domain only 4 (LMO4) protein is expressed in the hypothalamus, but its function there is not known. Using mice with LMO4 ablated in postnatal glutamatergic neurons, including most neurons of the paraventricular (PVN) and ventromedial (VMH) hypothalamic nuclei where LMO4 is expressed, we asked whether LMO4 is required for metabolic homeostasis. LMO4 mutant mice exhibited early onset adiposity. These mice had reduced energy expenditure and impaired thermogenesis together with reduced sympathetic outflow to adipose tissues. The peptide hormone leptin, produced from adipocytes, activates Jak/Stat3 signaling at the hypothalamus to control food intake, energy expenditure, and fat metabolism. Intracerebroventricular infusion of leptin suppressed feeding similarly in LMO4 mutant and control mice. However, leptin-induced fat loss was impaired and activation of Stat3 in the VMH was blunted in these mice. Thus, our study identifies LMO4 as a novel modulator of leptin function in selective hypothalamic nuclei to regulate fat metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3276759  PMID: 21874351
Adiposity; Obesity; Sympathetic outflow; Hypothalamus; Leptin
10.  Lmo Mutants Reveal a Novel Role for Circadian Pacemaker Neurons in Cocaine-Induced Behaviors 
PLoS Biology  2004;2(12):e408.
Drosophila has been developed recently as a model system to investigate the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying responses to drugs of abuse. Genetic screens for mutants with altered drug-induced behaviors thus provide an unbiased approach to define novel molecules involved in the process. We identified mutations in the Drosophila LIM-only (LMO) gene, encoding a regulator of LIM-homeodomain proteins, in a genetic screen for mutants with altered cocaine sensitivity. Reduced Lmo function increases behavioral responses to cocaine, while Lmo overexpression causes the opposite effect, reduced cocaine responsiveness. Expression of Lmo in the principal Drosophila circadian pacemaker cells, the PDF-expressing ventral lateral neurons (LNvs), is sufficient to confer normal cocaine sensitivity. Consistent with a role for Lmo in LNv function, Lmo mutants also show defects in circadian rhythms of behavior. However, the role for LNvs in modulating cocaine responses is separable from their role as pacemaker neurons: ablation or functional silencing of the LNvs reduces cocaine sensitivity, while loss of the principal circadian neurotransmitter PDF has no effect. Together, these results reveal a novel role for Lmo in modulating acute cocaine sensitivity and circadian locomotor rhythmicity, and add to growing evidence that these behaviors are regulated by shared molecular mechanisms. The finding that the degree of cocaine responsiveness is controlled by the Drosophila pacemaker neurons provides a neuroanatomical basis for this overlap. We propose that Lmo controls the responsiveness of LNvs to cocaine, which in turn regulate the flies' behavioral sensitivity to the drug.
Expression of the Drosophila LIM-only (LMO) gene in circadian pacemaker cells is required for the normal behavioral sensitivity of these animals to cocaine
PMCID: PMC529317  PMID: 15550987
11.  Defective Neural Tube Closure and Anteroposterior Patterning in Mice Lacking the LIM Protein LMO4 or Its Interacting Partner Deaf-1 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(5):2074-2082.
LMO4 belongs to a family of transcriptional regulators that comprises two zinc-binding LIM domains. LIM-only (LMO) proteins appear to function as docking sites for other factors, leading to the assembly of multiprotein complexes. The transcription factor Deaf-1/NUDR has been identified as one partner protein of LMO4. We have disrupted the Lmo4 and Deaf-1 genes in mice to define their biological function in vivo. All Lmo4 mutants died shortly after birth and showed defects within the presphenoid bone, with 50% of mice also exhibiting exencephaly. Homeotic transformations were observed in Lmo4-null embryos and newborn mice, but with incomplete penetrance. These included skeletal defects in cervical vertebrae and the rib cage. Furthermore, fusions of cranial nerves IX and X and defects in cranial nerve V were apparent in some Lmo4−/− and Lmo4+/− mice. Remarkably, Deaf-1 mutants displayed phenotypic abnormalities similar to those observed in Lmo4 mutants. These included exencephaly, transformation of cervical segments, and rib cage abnormalities. In contrast to Lmo4 nullizygous mice, nonexencephalic Deaf-1 mutants remained healthy. No defects in the sphenoid bone or cranial nerves were apparent. Thus, Lmo4 and Deaf-1 mutant mice exhibit overlapping as well as distinct phenotypes. Our data indicate an important role for these two transcriptional regulators in pathways affecting neural tube closure and skeletal patterning, most likely reflecting their presence in a functional complex in vivo.
PMCID: PMC350571  PMID: 14966286
12.  Bivalent promoter marks and a latent enhancer may prime the leukaemia oncogene LMO1 for ectopic expression in T-cell leukaemia 
Leukemia  2013;27(6):1348-1357.
LMO1 is a transcriptional regulator and a T-acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) oncogene. Although first identified in association with a chromosomal translocation in T-ALL, the ectopic expression of LMO1 occurs far more frequently in the absence of any known mutation involving its locus. Given that LMO1 is barely expressed in any haematopoietic lineage, and activation of transcriptional drivers in leukaemic cells is not well described, we investigated the regulation of this gene in normal haematopoietic and leukaemic cells. We show that LMO1 has two promoters that drive reporter gene expression in transgenic mice to neural tissues known to express endogenous LMO1. The LMO1 promoters display bivalent histone marks in multiple blood lineages including T-cells, and a 3' flanking region at LMO1 +57 contains a transcriptional enhancer that is active in developing blood cells in transgenic mouse embryos. The LMO1 promoters become activated in T-ALL together with the 3' enhancer, which is bound in primary T-ALL cells by SCL/TAL1 and GATA3. Taken together, our results show that LMO1 is poised for expression in normal progenitors, where activation of SCL/TAL1 together with a breakdown of epigenetic repression of LMO1 regulatory elements induces ectopic LMO1 expression that contributes to the development and maintenance of T-ALL.
PMCID: PMC3677138  PMID: 23302769
LMO1; transcriptional regulation; T-ALL; bivalent chromatin
13.  Common variation at 6q16 within HACE1 and LIN28B influences susceptibility to neuroblastoma 
Nature genetics  2012;44(10):1126-1130.
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that accounts for approximately 10% of all pediatric oncology deaths1. Here we report on a genome-wide association study of 2,817 neuroblastoma cases and 7,473 controls. We identified two new associations at 6q16, the first within HACE1 (rs4336470; combined P = 2.7 × 10−11, odds ratio 1.26, 95% CI: 1.18–1.35) and the second within LIN28B (rs17065417; combined P = 1.2 × 10−8, odds ratio 1.38, 95% CI: 1.23–1.54). Expression of LIN28B and let-7 miRNA correlated with rs17065417 genotype in neuroblastoma cell lines, and we observed significant growth inhibition upon depletion of LIN28B specifically in neuroblastoma cells homozygous for the risk allele. Low HACE1 and high LIN28B expression in diagnostic primary neuroblastomas were associated with worse overall survival (P = 0.008 and 0.014, respectively). Taken together, we show that common variants in HACE1 and LIN28B influence neuroblastoma susceptibility and that both genes likely play a role in disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3459292  PMID: 22941191
14.  Nuclear localization of lymphocyte-specific protein tyrosine kinase (Lck) and its role in regulating LIM domain only 2 (Lmo2) gene 
Lim domain only protein 2 (Lmo2) is a transcription factor that plays a critical role in the development of T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). A previous report established a link between Lmo2 expression and the nuclear presence of oncogenic Janus kinase 2 (JAK2), a non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase. The oncogenic JAK2 kinase phosphorylates histone H3 on Tyr 41 that leads to the relief of Lmo2 promoter repression and subsequent gene expression. Similar to JAK2, constitutive activation of lymphocyte-specific protein tyrosine kinase (Lck) has been implicated in lymphoid malignancies. However, it is not known whether oncogenic Lck regulates Lmo2 expression through a similar mechanism. We show here that Lmo2 expression is significantly elevated in T cell leukemia LSTRA overexpressing active Lck kinase and in HEK 293 cells expressing oncogenic Y505FLck kinase. Nuclear localization of active Lck kinase was confirmed in both Lck-transformed cells by subcellular fractionation and immunofluorescence microscopy. More importantly, in contrast to oncogenic JAK2, oncogenic Lck kinase does not result in significant increase in histone H3 phosphorylation on Tyr 41. Instead, chromatin immunoprecipitation experiment shows that oncogenic Y505FLck kinase binds to the Lmo2 promoter in vivo. This result raises the possibility that oncogenic Lck may activate Lmo2 promoter through direct interaction.
PMCID: PMC3264771  PMID: 22222369
Lck; Lmo2; protein tyrosine kinase; nuclear localization; gene regulation
15.  Aberrant expression of LMO4 induces centrosome amplification and mitotic spindle abnormalities in breast cancer cells 
The Journal of pathology  2010;222(3):271-281.
The LIM-only protein, LMO4, is a transcriptional modulator overexpressed in breast cancer. It is oncogenic in murine mammary epithelium and required for G2/M progression of ErbB2-dependent cells as well as growth and invasion of other breast cancer cell types. However, the mechanisms underlying the oncogenic activity of LMO4 remain unclear. Herein, we show that LMO4 is expressed in all breast cancer subtypes examined and its expression level correlates with the degree of proliferation of such tumors. In addition, we have determined that LMO4 silencing induces G2/M arrest in cells from various breast cancer subtypes, suggesting LMO4 action in the cell cycle is not restricted to a single breast cancer subtype. This arrest was accompanied by increased cell death, amplification of centrosomes and formation of abnormal mitotic spindles. Consistent with its ability to positively and negatively regulate the formation of active transcription complexes, overexpression of LMO4 also resulted in an increase in centrosome number. Centrosome amplification has been shown to prolong the G2/M phase of the cell cycle and induce apoptosis, thus we conclude that supernumerary centrosomes mediate the G2/M arrest and cell death in LMO4-deficient cells. Furthermore, the correlation of centrosome amplification with genomic instability suggests that the impact of dysregulated LMO4 on the centrosome cycle may promote LMO4-induced tumor formation.
PMCID: PMC3600378  PMID: 20814902
Breast Cancer; LMO4; centrosome; cell cycle; proliferation
16.  Transcription factor Lmo4 defines the shape of functional areas in developing cortices and regulates sensorimotor control 
Developmental biology  2008;327(1):132-142.
Proper formation of the shape and size of cortical functional areas is essential for complex brain function, including sensory perception and motor control. Our previous work identified the transcription factor Lim domain only 4 (Lmo4), a regulator in calcium-dependent gene transcription, that has unique, region-specific expression in postnatal mouse cortices with high expression anteriorly and posteriorly but very low expression in between. Here we report that Lmo4 expression coincides with the timing of the development of the somatosensory barrel field. Lmo4 cortical deletion causes changes in expression patterns of cortical regional markers and results in rostro-medial shrinkage but not rostral or caudal shift of the somatosensory barrel subfield. Fine regulation of accurate shape of the barrel subfield by Lmo4, as well as Lmo4-mediated calcium-dependent gene expression, is critical for normal brain functions, as Lmo4-deficient mice display impaired sensorimotor performance. Moreover, even though Lmo4 has broad expression in the central nervous system, it plays a subtle role in the development of non-cortical regions. Our results reveal a new mechanism of cortical area formation and normal sensorimotor control that is regulated by genes with region-specific expression in the developing cortex.
PMCID: PMC2771174  PMID: 19111533
Lmo4; Cortical functional areas; Somatosensory barrel subfield; Sensorimotor control
17.  LMO4 is an essential mediator of ErbB2/HER2/Neu-induced breast cancer cell cycle progression 
Oncogene  2009;28(41):3608-3618.
ErbB2/HER2/Neu-overexpressing breast cancers are characterized by poor survival due to high proliferation and metastasis rates and identifying downstream targets of ErbB2 should facilitate developing novel therapies for this disease. Gene expression profiling revealed the transcriptional regulator LIM-only protein 4 [LMO4] is upregulated during ErbB2-induced mouse mammary gland tumorigenesis. While LMO4 is frequently overexpressed in breast cancer and LMO4-overexpressing mice develop mammary epithelial tumors, the mechanisms involved are unknown. Herein, we report that LMO4 is a downstream target of ErbB2 and PI3K in ErbB2-dependent breast cancer cells. Furthermore, LMO4 silencing reduces proliferation of these cells, inducing a G2/M arrest that was associated with decreased cullin-3, an E3-ubiquitin ligase component important for mitosis. Loss of LMO4 subsequently results in reduced Cyclin D1 and Cyclin E. Further supporting a role for LMO4 in modulating proliferation by regulating cullin-3 expression, we found that LMO4 expression oscillates throughout the cell cycle with maximum expression occurring during G2/M and these changes precede oscillations in cullin-3 levels. LMO4 levels are also highest in high grade/less differentiated breast cancers, which are characteristically highly proliferative. We conclude that LMO4 is a novel cell cycle regulator with a key role in mediating ErbB2-induced proliferation, a hallmark of ErbB2-positive disease.
PMCID: PMC2762490  PMID: 19648968
Breast Cancer; cullin-3; ErbB2; HER2; LMO4
18.  Lmo4 in the nucleus accumbens regulates cocaine sensitivity 
Genes, brain, and behavior  2010;9(7):817-824.
An estimated 2 million Americans use cocaine, resulting in large personal and societal costs. Discovery of the genetic factors that contribute to cocaine abuse is important for understanding this complex disease. Previously, mutations in the Drosophila LIM-only (dLmo) gene were identified because of their increased behavioral sensitivity to cocaine. Here we show that the mammalian homolog Lmo4, which is highly expressed in brain regions implicated in drug addiction, plays a similar role in cocaine-induced behaviors. Mice with a global reduction in Lmo4 levels show increased sensitivity to the locomotor stimulatory effects of cocaine upon chronic cocaine administration. This effect is reproduced with downregulation of Lmo4 in the nucleus accumbens by RNA interference. Thus, Lmo genes play conserved roles in regulating the behavioral effects of cocaine in invertebrate and mammalian models of drug addiction.
PMCID: PMC3130015  PMID: 20618444
Cocaine sensitization; LMO4; nucleus accumbens; RNA interference
19.  The oncoprotein HBXIP activates transcriptional coregulatory protein LMO4 via Sp1 to promote proliferation of breast cancer cells 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(4):927-935.
Hepatitis B X-interacting protein (HBXIP) is an important oncoprotein that plays critical role in the development of cancer. In this study, we report that HBXIP activates LIM-only protein 4 (LMO4), a transcriptional coregulatory protein, in promotion of cell proliferation. We observed that the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression levels of HBXIP were positively associated with those of LMO4 in clinical breast cancer tissues. We further identified that HBXIP upregulated LMO4 at the levels of promoter, mRNA and protein in MCF-7 and LM-MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines. The expression of cyclin D1 and cyclin E, downstream effectors of LMO4, could be upregulated by HBXIP through LMO4. Then, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay revealed that HBXIP was able to interact with the promoter region of LMO4. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that HBXIP occupied the -237/-206 region of LMO4 promoter containing Sp1 binding element. The mutant of Sp1 binding site in the LMO4 promoter impeded the interaction of HBXIP with the promoter. Co-immunoprecipitation, ChIP and luciferase reporter gene assays showed that HBXIP activated LMO4 promoter through binding to Sp1. In function, flow cytometry, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU) incorporation assays and animal transplantation assays demonstrated that HBXIP-enhanced cell proliferation of breast cancer through upregulating LMO4 in vitro and in vivo. Thus, we concluded that oncoprotein HBXIP is able to activate the transcriptional coregulatory protein LMO4 through transcription factor Sp1 in promotion of proliferation of breast cancer cells. HBXIP may serve as a driver gene to activate transcription in the development of cancer.
PMCID: PMC3616668  PMID: 23291272
20.  LIM only 4 is overexpressed in late stage pancreas cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2008;7:93.
LIM-only 4 (LMO4), a member of the LIM-only (LMO) subfamily of LIM domain-containing transcription factors, was initially reported to have an oncogenic role in breast cancer. We hypothesized that LMO4 may be related to pancreatic carcinogenesis as it is in breast carcinogenesis. If so, this could result in a better understanding of tumorigenesis in pancreatic cancer.
We measured LMO4 mRNA levels in cultured cells, pancreatic bulk tissues and microdissected target cells (normal ductal cells; pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia-1B [PanIN-1B] cells; PanIN-2 cells; invasive ductal carcinoma [IDC] cells; intraductal papillary-mucinous adenoma [IPMA] cells; IPM borderline [IPMB] cells; and invasive and non-invasive IPM carcinoma [IPMC]) by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).
9 of 14 pancreatic cancer cell lines expressed higher levels of LMO4 mRNA than did the human pancreatic ductal epithelial cell line (HPDE). In bulk tissue samples, expression of LMO4 was higher in pancreatic carcinoma than in intraductal papillary-mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) or non-neoplastic pancreas (p < 0.0001 for both). We carried out microdissection-based analyses. IDC cells expressed significantly higher levels of LMO4 than did normal ductal epithelia or PanIN-1B cells (p < 0.001 for both) or PanIN-2 cells (p = 0.014). IPMC cells expressed significantly higher levels of LMO4 than did normal ductal epithelia (p < 0.001), IPMA (p < 0.001) and IPMB cells (p = 0.003).
Pancreatic carcinomas (both IDC and IPMC) expressed significantly higher levels of LMO4 mRNA than did normal ductal epithelia, PanIN-1B, PanIN-2, IPMA and IPMB. These results suggested that LMO4 is overexpressed at late stages in carcinogenesis of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC2628350  PMID: 19099607
21.  Null Mutation of the Lmo4 Gene or a Combined Null Mutation of the Lmo1/Lmo3 Genes Causes Perinatal Lethality, and Lmo4 Controls Neural Tube Development in Mice 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(5):2063-2073.
The LIM-only family of proteins comprises four members; two of these (LMO1 and LMO2) are involved in human T-cell leukemia via chromosomal translocations, and LMO2 is a master regulator of hematopoiesis. We have carried out gene targeting of the other members of the LIM-only family, viz., genes Lmo1, Lmo3 and Lmo4, to investigate their role in mouse development. None of these genes has an obligatory role in lymphopoiesis. In addition, while null mutations of Lmo1 or Lmo3 have no discernible phenotype, null mutation of Lmo4 alone causes perinatal lethality due to a severe neural tube defect which occurs in the form of anencephaly or exencephaly. Since the Lmo1 and Lmo3 gene sequences are highly related and have partly overlapping expression domains, we assessed the effect of compound Lmo1/Lmo3 null mutations. Although no anatomical defects were apparent in compound null pups, these animals also die within 24 h of birth, suggesting that a compensation between the related Lmo1 and 3 proteins can occur during embryogenesis to negate the individual loss of these genes. Our results complete the gene targeting of the LIM-only family in mice and suggest that all four members of this family are important in regulators of distinct developmental pathways.
PMCID: PMC350562  PMID: 14966285
22.  A novel transcript of the LMO2 gene, LMO2-c, is regulated by GATA-1 and PU.1 and encodes an antagonist of LMO2 
Ectopic expression of LIM-only protein 2 (LMO2) in T-cells, as a result of chromosomal translocations or retroviral insertion, plays an important role in the onset of T-cell leukemias. Two transcripts of LMO2 gene (LMO2-a and LMO2-b) have been reported to encode a same 158-amino-acid protein. We have previously reported a novel transcript of human LMO2 gene (LMO2-c) encoding a 151-amino-acid protein, and defined its promoter region. In the present study, we investigated the regulation of the LMO2-c expression and the functions of LMO2-c. We found that LMO2-c expression is regulated by the cooperation of two essential hematopoietic transcription factors GATA-1 and PU.1 in various hematopoietic cell lines, suggesting an important functional role for LMO2-c in the hematopoietic system. More importantly, we demonstrated that LMO2-c acts as an antagonist of LMO2-a/b binding to its partners, therefore blocking the transactivation of LMO2-a/b on its target genes. These findings provide novel evidence to the functions of LMO2 gene in the hematopoietic system and leukemia.
PMCID: PMC2676384  PMID: 17361224
leukemia; LIM-only protein 2 (LMO2); GATA-1; PU.1; antagonist
23.  Common Variation at BARD1 Results in the Expression of an Oncogenic Isoform that Influences Neuroblastoma Susceptibility and Oncogenicity 
Cancer Research  2012;72(8):2068-2078.
The mechanisms underlying genetic susceptibility at loci discovered by genome-wide association study (GWAS) approaches in human cancer remain largely undefined. In this study we characterized the high-risk neuroblastoma association at the BRCA1-related locus, BARD1, showing that disease-associated variations correlate with increased expression of the oncogenically activated isoform, BARD1β. In neuroblastoma cells, silencing of BARD1β showed genotype-specific cytotoxic effects, including decreased substrate-adherent, anchorage-independent, and foci growth. In established murine fibroblasts, overexpression of BARD1β was sufficient for neoplastic transformation. BARD1β stabilized the Aurora family of kinases in neuroblastoma cells, suggesting both a mechanism for the observed effect and a potential therapeutic strategy. Together, our findings identify BARD1β as an oncogenic driver of high-risk neuroblastoma tumorigenesis, and more generally, they illustrate how robust GWAS signals offer genomic landmarks to identify molecular mechanisms involved in both tumor initiation and malignant progression. The interaction of BARD1β with the Aurora family of kinases lends strong support to the ongoing work to develop Aurora kinase inhibitors for clinically aggressive neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3328617  PMID: 22350409
genome-wide association; neuroblastoma; BARD1; cancer susceptibility genes; functional genomics; oncogenes; genotype-phenotype correlations
24.  Conditional expression of retrovirally delivered anti-MYCN shRNA as an in vitro model system to study neuronal differentiation in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma 
Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer derived from immature cells of the sympathetic nervous system. The disease is clinically heterogeneous, ranging from neuronal differentiated benign ganglioneuromas to aggressive metastatic tumours with poor prognosis. Amplification of the MYCN oncogene is a well established poor prognostic factor found in up to 40% of high risk neuroblastomas.
Using neuroblastoma cell lines to study neuronal differentiation in vitro is now well established. Several protocols, including exposure to various agents and growth factors, will differentiate neuroblastoma cell lines into neuron-like cells. These cells are characterized by a neuronal morphology with long extensively branched neurites and expression of several neurospecific markers.
In this study we use retrovirally delivered inducible short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) modules to knock down MYCN expression in MYCN-amplified (MNA) neuroblastoma cell lines. By addition of the inducer doxycycline, we show that the Kelly and SK-N-BE(2) neuroblastoma cell lines efficiently differentiate into neuron-like cells with an extensive network of neurites. These cells are further characterized by increased expression of the neuronal differentiation markers NFL and GAP43. In addition, we show that induced expression of retrovirally delivered anti-MYCN shRNA inhibits cell proliferation by increasing the fraction of MNA neuroblastoma cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle and that the clonogenic growth potential of these cells was also dramatically reduced.
We have developed an efficient MYCN-knockdown in vitro model system to study neuronal differentiation in MNA neuroblastomas.
PMCID: PMC3022612  PMID: 21194500
25.  Two Novel Type II Restriction-Modification Systems Occupying Genomically Equivalent Locations on the Chromosomes of Listeria monocytogenes Strains 
Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for the potentially life-threatening food-borne disease listeriosis. One epidemic-associated clonal group of L. monocytogenes, epidemic clone I (ECI), harbors a Sau3AI-like restriction-modification (RM) system also present in the same genomic region in certain strains of other lineages. In this study, we identified and characterized two other, novel type II RM systems, LmoJ2 and LmoJ3, at this same locus. LmoJ2 and LmoJ3 appeared to recognize GCWGC (W = A or T) and GCNGC, respectively. Both RM systems consisted of genes with GC content below the genome average and were in the same genomic region in strains of different serotypes and lineages, suggesting site-specific horizontal gene transfer. Genomic DNA from the LmoJ2 and LmoJ3 strains grown at various temperatures (4 to 42°C) was resistant to digestion with restriction enzymes recognizing GCWGC or GCNGC, indicating that the methyltransferases were expressed under these conditions. Phages propagated in an LmoJ2-harboring strain exhibited moderately increased infectivity for this strain at 4 and 8°C but not at higher temperatures, while phages propagated in an LmoJ3 strain had dramatically increased infectivity for this strain at all temperatures. Among the sequenced Listeria phages, lytic phages possessed significantly fewer recognition sites for these RM systems than lysogenic phages, suggesting that in lytic phages sequence content evolved toward reduced susceptibility to such RM systems. The ability of LmoJ2 and LmoJ3 to protect against phages may affect the efficiency of phages as biocontrol agents for L. monocytogenes strains harboring these RM systems.
PMCID: PMC3318782  PMID: 22327591

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