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1.  Genetic predisposition to neuroblastoma mediated by a LMO1 super-enhancer polymorphism 
Nature  2015;528(7582):418-421.
Neuroblastoma is a pediatric malignancy that typically arises in early childhood and is derived from the developing sympathetic nervous system. Clinical phenotypes range from localized tumors with excellent outcomes to widely metastatic disease where long-term survival is approximately 40% despite intensive therapy1. A previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified common polymorphisms at the LMO1 gene locus that are highly associated with neuroblastoma susceptibility and oncogenic addiction to LMO1 in the tumor cells2. Here we sought to discover the causal DNA variant at this locus and the mechanism by which it leads to neuroblastoma tumorigenesis. We first imputed all possible genotypes across the LMO1 locus and then mapped highly associated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) to areas of chromatin accessibility, evolutionary conservation, and transcription factor binding sites. SNP rs2168101 G>T was the most highly associated variant (combined P=7.47×10-29, Odds Ratio 0.65, 95% CI: 0.60-0.70) and resided in a super-enhancer defined by extensive acetylation of histone H3 lysine 27 within the first intron of LMO1. The ancestral G-allele that is associated with tumor formation resides in a conserved GATA transcription factor binding motif. We show that the newly evolved protective TATA allele is associated with decreased total LMO1 expression (P=0.028) in neuroblastoma primary tumors and ablates GATA3 binding (P<0.0001). We demonstrate allelic imbalance favoring the G-containing strand in tumors heterozygous for this SNP as demonstrated both by RNA sequencing (P<0.0001) and reporter assays (P=0.002). These findings show that a recently evolved polymorphism within a super-enhancer element in the first intron of LMO1 influences neuroblastoma susceptibility through differential GATA transcription factor binding and direct modulation of LMO1 expression in cis, and this leads to an oncogenic dependency in tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC4775078  PMID: 26560027
2.  LMO1 gene polymorphisms contribute to decreased neuroblastoma susceptibility in a Southern Chinese population 
Oncotarget  2016;7(16):22770-22778.
Neuroblastoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed extracranial solid tumors in infancy; however, the etiology of neuroblastoma remains largely unknown. Previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) indicated that several common genetic variations (rs110419 A > G, rs4758051 G > A, rs10840002 A > G and rs204938 A > G) in the LIM domain only 1 (LMO1) gene were associated with neuroblastoma susceptibility. The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between the four GWAS-identified LMO1 gene polymorphisms and neuroblastoma risk in a Southern Chinese population. We genotyped the four polymorphisms in 256 neuroblastoma cases and 531 controls. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to evaluate the strength of the associations. False-positive report probability was calculated for all significant findings. We found that the rs110419 A > G polymorphism was associated with a significantly decreased neuroblastoma risk (AG vs. AA: adjusted OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.47–0.91; GG vs. AA: adjusted OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.36–0.91; AG/GG vs. AA: adjusted OR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.46–0.86), and the protective effect was more predominant in children of age > 18 months, males, subgroups with tumor in adrenal gland and mediastinum, and patients in clinical stages III/IV. These results suggested that LMO1 gene rs110419 A > G polymorphism may contribute to protection against neuroblastoma. Our findings call for further validation studies with larger sample size.
PMCID: PMC5008399  PMID: 27009839
neuroblastoma; LMO1; polymorphism; genetic susceptibility
3.  Candidate Gene Association Analysis of Neuroblastoma in Chinese Children Strengthens the Role of LMO1 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0127856.
Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extra-cranial solid tumor in children and the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the first year of life. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of Caucasian and African populations have shown that common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in several genes are associated with the risk of developing NB, while few studies have been performed on Chinese children. Herein, we examined the association between the genetic polymorphisms in candidate genes and the risk of NB in Chinese children. In total, 127 SNPs in nine target genes, revealed by GWAS studies of other ethnic groups and four related lincRNAs, were genotyped in 549 samples (244 NB patients and 305 healthy controls). After adjustment for gender and age, there were 21 SNPs associated with NB risk at the two-sided P < 0.05 level, 11 of which were located in LMO1. After correction for multiple comparisons, only rs204926 in LMO1 remained significantly different between cases and controls (OR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.31–0.65, adjusted P = 0.003). In addition, 16 haplotypes in four separate genes were significantly different between case and control groups at an unadjusted P value < 0.05, 11 of which were located in LMO1. A major haplotype, ATC, containing rs204926, rs110420, and rs110419, conferred a significant increase in risk for NB (OR = 1.82, 95% CI: 1.41–2.36, adjusted P < 0.001). The major finding of our study was obtained for risk alleles within the LMO1 gene. Our data suggest that genetic variants in LMO1 are associated with increased NB risk in Chinese children.
PMCID: PMC4452511  PMID: 26030754
4.  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
5.  Decreased expression of LMO7 and its clinicopathological significance in human lung adenocarcinoma 
LIM-domain only protein 7 (LMO7) has been suggested to act as a tumor suppressor for murine lung adenocarcinoma, while its splice variant p100 LMO7/#16 is associated with invasion and metastasis of rat AH130W1 cells. However, the importance of LMO7 in human lung cancer is unknown. We investigated LMO7 protein expression by immunohistochemistry in tumor tissues obtained from 57 patients with adenocarcinoma of the lung using a rabbit anti-LMO7 antibody. Signals for LMO7 were localized to the apical surface of the bronchial epithelium and to the cell membranes of pneumocytes in non-cancerous pulmonary tissues, but were noted circumferentially around the plasma membrane of cancer cells in all 57 patients with adenocarcinoma. The LMO7-positive group (24 patients, 42%) showed equivocal to strong expression of LMO7 in more than 50% cancer cells, while the remaining 33 patients (58%) showed LMO7 expression in less than 50% of their cancer cells. The latter group had significantly more advanced disease than the LMO7-positive group with regard to T factor (p=0.011), nodal involvement (p=0.026) and p-stage (p=0.010; χ2 test). Multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model showed that LMO7 expression was independently associated with the T factor (p=0.041). Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that a poor prognosis was associated with low expression of LMO7 (p=0.036; log-rank test). Our findings are consistent with earlier observations and demonstrate that LMO7 is inversely correlated with the development and prognosis of human lung adenocarcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3440790  PMID: 22977619
LIM-domain only protein 7; immunohistochemistry; human lung adenocarcinoma
6.  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
7.  The LIM-domain only protein 4 contributes to lung epithelial cell proliferation but is not essential for tumor progression 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):67.
The lung is constantly exposed to environmental challenges and must rapidly respond to external insults. Mechanisms involved in the repair of the damaged lung involve expansion of different epithelial cells to repopulate the injured cellular compartment. However, factors regulating cell proliferation following lung injury remain poorly understood. Here we studied the role of the transcriptional regulator Lmo4 during lung development, in the regulation of adult lung epithelial cell proliferation following lung damage and in the context of oncogenic transformation.
To study the role of Lmo4 in embryonic lung development, lung repair and tumorigenesis, we used conditional knock-out mice to delete Lmo4 in lung epithelial cells from the first stages of lung development. The role of Lmo4 in lung repair was evaluated using two experimental models of lung damage involving chemical and viral injury. The role of Lmo4 in lung tumorigenesis was measured using a mouse model of lung adenocarcinoma in which the oncogenic K-Ras protein has been knocked into the K-Ras locus. Overall survival difference between genotypes was tested by log rank test. Difference between means was tested using one-way ANOVA after assuring that assumptions of normality and equality of variance were satisfied.
We found that Lmo4 was not required for normal embryonic lung morphogenesis. In the adult lung, loss of Lmo4 reduced epithelial cell proliferation and delayed repair of the lung following naphthalene or flu-mediated injury, suggesting that Lmo4 participates in the regulation of epithelial cell expansion in response to cellular damage. In the context of K-RasG12D-driven lung tumor formation, Lmo4 loss did not alter overall survival but delayed initiation of lung hyperplasia in K-RasG12D mice sensitized by naphthalene injury. Finally, we evaluated the expression of LMO4 in tissue microarrays of early stage non-small cell lung cancer and observed that LMO4 is more highly expressed in lung squamous cell carcinoma compared to adenocarcinoma.
Together these results show that the transcriptional regulator Lmo4 participates in the regulation of lung epithelial cell proliferation in the context of injury and oncogenic transformation but that Lmo4 depletion is not sufficient to prevent lung repair or tumour formation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-015-0228-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4475329  PMID: 26048572
Lung injury; Progenitor cells; Lung cancer; LMO4
8.  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
9.  The LIM-only transcription factor LMO2 determines tumorigenic and angiogenic traits in glioma stem cells 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2015;22(9):1517-1525.
Glioblastomas (GBMs) maintain their cellular heterogeneity with glioma stem cells (GSCs) producing a variety of tumor cell types. Here we interrogated the oncogenic roles of Lim domain only 2 (LMO2) in GBM and GSCs in mice and human. High expression of LMO2 was found in human patient-derived GSCs compared with the differentiated progeny cells. LMO2 is required for GSC proliferation both in vitro and in vivo, as shRNA-mediated LMO2 silencing attenuated tumor growth derived from human GSCs. Further, LMO2 is sufficient to induce stem cell characteristics (stemness) in mouse premalignant astrocytes, as forced LMO2 expression facilitated in vitro and in vivo growth of astrocytes derived from Ink4a/Arf null mice and acquisition of GSC phenotypes. A subset of mouse and human GSCs converted into vascular endothelial-like tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo, which phenotype was attenuated by LMO2 silencing and promoted by LMO2 overexpression. Mechanistically, the action of LMO2 for induction of glioma stemness is mediated by transcriptional regulation of Jagged1 resulting in activation of the Notch pathway, whereas LMO2 directly occupies the promoter regions of the VE-cadherin gene for a gain of endothelial cellular phenotype. Subsequently, selective ablation of human GSC-derived VE-cadherin-expressing cells attenuated vascular formation in mouse intracranial tumors, thereby significantly prolonging mouse survival. Clinically, LMO2 expression was elevated in GBM tissues and inversely correlated with prognosis of GBM patients. Taken together, our findings describe novel dual roles of LMO2 to induce tumorigenesis and angiogenesis, and provide potential therapeutic targets in GBMs.
PMCID: PMC4532780  PMID: 25721045
10.  Identification of Components of the Sigma B Regulon in Listeria monocytogenes That Contribute to Acid and Salt Tolerance ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(22):6848-6858.
Sigma B (σB) is an alternative sigma factor that controls the transcriptional response to stress in Listeria monocytogenes and is also known to play a role in the virulence of this human pathogen. In the present study we investigated the impact of a sigB deletion on the proteome of L. monocytogenes grown in a chemically defined medium both in the presence and in the absence of osmotic stress (0.5 M NaCl). Two new phenotypes associated with the sigB deletion were identified using this medium. (i) Unexpectedly, the strain with the ΔsigB deletion was found to grow faster than the parent strain in the growth medium, but only when 0.5 M NaCl was present. This phenomenon was independent of the carbon source provided in the medium. (ii) The ΔsigB mutant was found to have unusual Gram staining properties compared to the parent, suggesting that σB contributes to the maintenance of an intact cell wall. A proteomic analysis was performed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, using cells growing in the exponential and stationary phases. Overall, 11 proteins were found to be differentially expressed in the wild type and the ΔsigB mutant; 10 of these proteins were expressed at lower levels in the mutant, and 1 was overexpressed in the mutant. All 11 proteins were identified by tandem mass spectrometry, and putative functions were assigned based on homology to proteins from other bacteria. Five proteins had putative functions related to carbon utilization (Lmo0539, Lmo0783, Lmo0913, Lmo1830, and Lmo2696), while three proteins were similar to proteins whose functions are unknown but that are known to be stress inducible (Lmo0796, Lmo2391, and Lmo2748). To gain further insight into the role of σB in L. monocytogenes, we deleted the genes encoding four of the proteins, lmo0796, lmo0913, lmo2391, and lmo2748. Phenotypic characterization of the mutants revealed that Lmo2748 plays a role in osmotolerance, while Lmo0796, Lmo0913, and Lmo2391 were all implicated in acid stress tolerance to various degrees. Invasion assays performed with Caco-2 cells indicated that none of the four genes was required for mammalian cell invasion. Microscopic analysis suggested that loss of Lmo2748 might contribute to the cell wall defect observed in the ΔsigB mutant. Overall, this study highlighted two new phenotypes associated with the loss of σB. It also demonstrated clear roles for σB in both osmotic and low-pH stress tolerance and identified specific components of the σB regulon that contribute to the responses observed.
PMCID: PMC2583506  PMID: 18806006
11.  A DNA-binding mutant of TAL1 cooperates with LMO2 to cause T cell leukemia in mice 
Oncogene  2010;30(10):1252-1260.
The most common translocation in childhood T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) involves the LMO2 locus, resulting in ectopic expression of the LMO2 gene in human thymocytes. The LMO2 gene was also activated in patients with X-linked Severe Combined Immune Deficiency treated with gene therapy because of retroviral insertion in the LMO2 locus. The LMO2 insertions predisposed these children to T-ALL, yet how LMO2 contributes to T cell transformation remains unclear. The LIM (Lin 11, Isl-1, Mec-3) domain containing LMO2 protein regulates erythropoiesis as part of a large transcriptional complex consisting of LMO2, TAL1, E47, GATA1 and LDB1 that recognizes bipartite E-box-GATA1 sites on target genes. Similarly, a TAL1/E47/LMO2/LDB1 complex is observed in human T-ALL and Tal1 and Lmo2 expression in mice results in disease acceleration. To address the mechanism(s) of Tal1/Lmo2 synergy in leukemia, we generated Lmo2 transgenic mice and mated them with mice that express wild-type Tal1 or a DNA-binding mutant of TAL1. Tal1/Lmo2 and MutTAL1/Lmo2 bitransgenic mice exhibit perturbations in thymocyte development due to reduced E47/HEB transcriptional activity and develop leukemia with identical kinetics. These data demonstrate that the DNA-binding activity of Tal1 is not required to cooperate with Lmo2 to cause leukemia in mice and suggest that Lmo2 may cooperate with Tal1 to interfere with E47/HEB function(s).
PMCID: PMC3691994  PMID: 21057528
TAL1; Lmo2; E47; HEB; T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)
12.  Common genetic variants in NEFL influence gene expression and neuroblastoma risk 
Cancer research  2014;74(23):6913-6924.
The genetic etiology of sporadic neuroblastoma is still largely obscure. In a genome-wide association study, we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with neuroblastoma at the LINC00340, BARD1, LMO1, DUSP12, HSD17B12, HACE1 and LIN28B gene loci, but these explain only a small fraction of neuroblastoma heritability. Other neuroblastoma susceptibility genes are likely hidden among signals discarded by the multiple testing corrections. In this study, we evaluated 8 additional genes selected as candidates for further study based on proven involvement in neuroblastoma differentiation. SNP at these candidate genes were tested for association with disease susceptibility in 2101 cases and 4202 controls, with the associations found replicated in an independent cohort of 459 cases and 809 controls. Replicated associations were further studied for cis-effect using gene expression, transient overexpression, silencing and cellular differentiation assays. The neurofilament gene NEFL harbored three SNP associated with neuroblastoma (rs11994014; Pcombined=0.0050; OR=0.88, rs2979704; Pcombined=0.0072; OR=0.87, rs105911; Pcombined=0.0049; OR=0.86). The protective allele of rs1059111 correlated with increased NEFL expression. Biological investigations showed that ectopic overexpression of NEFL inhibited cell growth specifically in neuroblastoma cells carrying the protective allele. NEFL overexpression also enhanced differentiation and impaired the proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of cells with protective allele and basal NEFL expression, while impairing invasiveness and proliferation of cells homozygous for the risk genotype. Clinically, high levels of NEFL expression in primary neuroblastoma specimens was associated with better overall survival (P=0.03; HR=0.68). Our results show that common variants of NEFL influence neuroblastoma susceptibility and they establish that NEFL expression influences disease initiation and progression.
PMCID: PMC4253722  PMID: 25312269
neuroblastoma; SNP; NEFL; genetic association; GWAS
13.  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
14.  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
15.  SCL, LMO1 and Notch1 Reprogram Thymocytes into Self-Renewing Cells 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004768.
The molecular determinants that render specific populations of normal cells susceptible to oncogenic reprogramming into self-renewing cancer stem cells are poorly understood. Here, we exploit T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) as a model to define the critical initiating events in this disease. First, thymocytes that are reprogrammed by the SCL and LMO1 oncogenic transcription factors into self-renewing pre-leukemic stem cells (pre-LSCs) remain non-malignant, as evidenced by their capacities to generate functional T cells. Second, we provide strong genetic evidence that SCL directly interacts with LMO1 to activate the transcription of a self-renewal program coordinated by LYL1. Moreover, LYL1 can substitute for SCL to reprogram thymocytes in concert with LMO1. In contrast, inhibition of E2A was not sufficient to substitute for SCL, indicating that thymocyte reprogramming requires transcription activation by SCL-LMO1. Third, only a specific subset of normal thymic cells, known as DN3 thymocytes, is susceptible to reprogramming. This is because physiological NOTCH1 signals are highest in DN3 cells compared to other thymocyte subsets. Consistent with this, overexpression of a ligand-independent hyperactive NOTCH1 allele in all immature thymocytes is sufficient to sensitize them to SCL-LMO1, thereby increasing the pool of self-renewing cells. Surprisingly, hyperactive NOTCH1 cannot reprogram thymocytes on its own, despite the fact that NOTCH1 is activated by gain of function mutations in more than 55% of T-ALL cases. Rather, elevating NOTCH1 triggers a parallel pathway involving Hes1 and Myc that dramatically enhances the activity of SCL-LMO1 We conclude that the acquisition of self-renewal and the genesis of pre-LSCs from thymocytes with a finite lifespan represent a critical first event in T-ALL. Finally, LYL1 and LMO1 or LMO2 are co-expressed in most human T-ALL samples, except the cortical T subtype. We therefore anticipate that the self-renewal network described here may be relevant to a majority of human T-ALL.
Author Summary
Deciphering the initiating events in lymphoid leukemia is important for the development of new therapeutic strategies. In this manuscript, we define oncogenic reprogramming as the process through which non-self-renewing progenitors are converted into pre-leukemic stem cells with sustained self-renewal capacities. We provide strong genetic evidence that this step is rate-limiting in leukemogenesis and requires the activation of a self-renewal program by oncogenic transcription factors, as exemplified by SCL and LMO1. Furthermore, NOTCH1 is a pathway that drives cell fate in the thymus. We demonstrate that homeostatic NOTCH1 levels that are highest in specific thymocyte subsets determine their susceptibilities to oncogenic reprogramming by SCL and LMO1. Our data provide novel insight into the acquisition of self-renewal as a critical first step in lymphoid cell transformation, requiring the synergistic interaction of oncogenic transcription factors with a cellular context controlled by high physiological NOTCH1.
PMCID: PMC4270438  PMID: 25522233
16.  Increased behavioral responses to ethanol in Lmo3 knockout mice 
Genes, brain, and behavior  2014;13(8):777-783.
LIM-domain only 3 (LMO3) is a transcriptional regulator involved in central nervous system development and neuroblastoma. Our previous studies implicated a potential role for LMO3 in regulating ethanol sensitivity and consumption. Here, we examined behavioral responses to ethanol in a line of Lmo3 null (Lmo3Z) mice, utilizing the ethanol-induced loss-of-righting-reflex (LORR) test, 2-bottle choice ethanol consumption, and the drinking in the dark (DID) test, which models binge-like ethanol consumption. We found that Lmo3Z mice exhibited increased sedation time in response to ethanol in the LORR test and drank significantly more ethanol in the DID test compared to their wild-type counterparts, but showed no differences in 2-bottle choice ethanol consumption. To explore where LMO3 may be acting in the brain to produce an ethanol phenotype, we also examined reporter gene (β-galactosidase, β-gal) expression in heterozygous Lmo3Z mice and found strong expression in subcortical areas, particularly in those areas implicated in drug abuse, including the nucleus accumbens (Acb), cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. We also examined Lmo3 expression in the brains of wild-type mice who had undergone the DID test and found a negative correlation between Lmo3 expression in the Acb and the amount of ethanol consumed, consistent with the increased binge-like drinking observed in Lmo3Z mice. These results support a role for LMO3 in regulating behavioral responses to ethanol, potentially through its actions in the Acb.
PMCID: PMC4442799  PMID: 25176312
LMO3; ethanol; binge drinking; sedation
17.  The Structure of an LIM-Only Protein 4 (LMO4) and Deformed Epidermal Autoregulatory Factor-1 (DEAF1) Complex Reveals a Common Mode of Binding to LMO4 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109108.
LIM-domain only protein 4 (LMO4) is a widely expressed protein with important roles in embryonic development and breast cancer. It has been reported to bind many partners, including the transcription factor Deformed epidermal autoregulatory factor-1 (DEAF1), with which LMO4 shares many biological parallels. We used yeast two-hybrid assays to show that DEAF1 binds both LIM domains of LMO4 and that DEAF1 binds the same face on LMO4 as two other LMO4-binding partners, namely LIM domain binding protein 1 (LDB1) and C-terminal binding protein interacting protein (CtIP/RBBP8). Mutagenic screening analysed by the same method, indicates that the key residues in the interaction lie in LMO4LIM2 and the N-terminal half of the LMO4-binding domain in DEAF1. We generated a stable LMO4LIM2-DEAF1 complex and determined the solution structure of that complex. Although the LMO4-binding domain from DEAF1 is intrinsically disordered, it becomes structured on binding. The structure confirms that LDB1, CtIP and DEAF1 all bind to the same face on LMO4. LMO4 appears to form a hub in protein-protein interaction networks, linking numerous pathways within cells. Competitive binding for LMO4 therefore most likely provides a level of regulation between those different pathways.
PMCID: PMC4195752  PMID: 25310299
18.  LIM Domain Only 2 Regulates Endothelial Proliferation, Angiogenesis, and Tissue Regeneration 
LIM domain only 2 (LMO2, human gene) is a key transcription factor that regulates hematopoiesis and vascular development. However, its role in adult endothelial function has been incompletely characterized.
Methods and Results
In vitro loss‐ and gain‐of‐function studies on LMO2 were performed in human umbilical vein endothelial cells with lentiviral overexpression or short hairpin RNA knockdown (KD) of LMO2, respectively. LMO2 KD significantly impaired endothelial proliferation. LMO2 controls endothelial G1/S transition through transcriptional regulation of cyclin‐dependent kinase 2 and 4 as determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR), western blot, and chromatin immunoprecipitation, and also influences the expression of Cyclin D1 and Cyclin A1. LMO2 KD also impaired angiogenesis by reducing transforming growth factor‐β (TGF‐β) expression, whereas supplementation of exogenous TGF‐β restored defective network formation in LMO2 KD human umbilical vein endothelial cells. In a zebrafish model of caudal fin regeneration, RT‐PCR revealed that the lmo2 (zebrafish gene) gene was upregulated at day 5 postresection. The KD of lmo2 by vivo‐morpholino injections in adult Tg(fli1:egfp) y1 zebrafish reduced 5‐bromo‐2′‐deoxyuridine incorporation in endothelial cells, impaired neoangiogenesis in the resected caudal fin, and substantially delayed fin regeneration.
The transcriptional factor LMO2 regulates endothelial proliferation and angiogenesis in vitro. Furthermore, LMO2 is required for angiogenesis and tissue healing in vivo. Thus, LMO2 is a critical determinant of vascular and tissue regeneration.
PMCID: PMC5121509  PMID: 27792641
angiogenesis; endothelial cell; LIM domain only 2; proliferation; regeneration; transcription factors; Vascular Biology
19.  Lmo4 in the Basolateral Complex of the Amygdala Modulates Fear Learning 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34559.
Pavlovian fear conditioning is an associative learning paradigm in which mice learn to associate a neutral conditioned stimulus with an aversive unconditioned stimulus. In this study, we demonstrate a novel role for the transcriptional regulator Lmo4 in fear learning. LMO4 is predominantly expressed in pyramidal projection neurons of the basolateral complex of the amygdala (BLC). Mice heterozygous for a genetrap insertion in the Lmo4 locus (Lmo4gt/+), which express 50% less Lmo4 than their wild type (WT) counterparts display enhanced freezing to both the context and the cue in which they received the aversive stimulus. Small-hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of Lmo4 in the BLC, but not the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus recapitulated this enhanced conditioning phenotype, suggesting an adult- and brain region-specific role for Lmo4 in fear learning. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed an increase in the number of c-Fos positive puncta in the BLC of Lmo4gt/+ mice in comparison to their WT counterparts after fear conditioning. Lastly, we measured anxiety-like behavior in Lmo4gt/+ mice and in mice with BLC-specific downregulation of Lmo4 using the elevated plus maze, open field, and light/dark box tests. Global or BLC-specific knockdown of Lmo4 did not significantly affect anxiety-like behavior. These results suggest a selective role for LMO4 in the BLC in modulating learned but not unlearned fear.
PMCID: PMC3317997  PMID: 22509321
20.  A Selective Role for Lmo4 in Cue–Reward Learning 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2015;35(26):9638-9647.
The ability to use environmental cues to predict rewarding events is essential to survival. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) plays a central role in such forms of associative learning. Aberrant cue–reward learning is thought to underlie many psychopathologies, including addiction, so understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms can inform strategies for intervention. The transcriptional regulator LIM-only 4 (LMO4) is highly expressed in pyramidal neurons of the BLA, where it plays an important role in fear learning. Because the BLA also contributes to cue–reward learning, we investigated the role of BLA LMO4 in this process using Lmo4-deficient mice and RNA interference. Lmo4-deficient mice showed a selective deficit in conditioned reinforcement. Knockdown of LMO4 in the BLA, but not in the nucleus accumbens, recapitulated this deficit in wild-type mice. Molecular and electrophysiological studies identified a deficit in dopamine D2 receptor signaling in the BLA of Lmo4-deficient mice. These results reveal a novel, LMO4-dependent transcriptional program within the BLA that is essential to cue–reward learning.
PMCID: PMC4589569  PMID: 26134647
basolateral amygdala; conditioned reinforcement; motivation; reward; transcription
21.  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
22.  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
23.  Cyclic di-GMP-dependent Signaling Pathways in the Pathogenic Firmicute Listeria monocytogenes 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(8):e1004301.
We characterized key components and major targets of the c-di-GMP signaling pathways in the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, identified a new c-di-GMP-inducible exopolysaccharide responsible for motility inhibition, cell aggregation, and enhanced tolerance to disinfectants and desiccation, and provided first insights into the role of c-di-GMP signaling in listerial virulence. Genome-wide genetic and biochemical analyses of c-di-GMP signaling pathways revealed that L. monocytogenes has three GGDEF domain proteins, DgcA (Lmo1911), DgcB (Lmo1912) and DgcC (Lmo2174), that possess diguanylate cyclase activity, and three EAL domain proteins, PdeB (Lmo0131), PdeC (Lmo1914) and PdeD (Lmo0111), that possess c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase activity. Deletion of all phosphodiesterase genes (ΔpdeB/C/D) or expression of a heterologous diguanylate cyclase stimulated production of a previously unknown exopolysaccharide. The synthesis of this exopolysaccharide was attributed to the pssA-E (lmo0527-0531) gene cluster. The last gene of the cluster encodes the fourth listerial GGDEF domain protein, PssE, that functions as an I-site c-di-GMP receptor essential for exopolysaccharide synthesis. The c-di-GMP-inducible exopolysaccharide causes cell aggregation in minimal medium and impairs bacterial migration in semi-solid agar, however, it does not promote biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. The exopolysaccharide also greatly enhances bacterial tolerance to commonly used disinfectants as well as desiccation, which may contribute to survival of L. monocytogenes on contaminated food products and in food-processing facilities. The exopolysaccharide and another, as yet unknown c-di-GMP-dependent target, drastically decrease listerial invasiveness in enterocytes in vitro, and lower pathogen load in the liver and gallbladder of mice infected via an oral route, which suggests that elevated c-di-GMP levels play an overall negative role in listerial virulence.
Author Summary
Listeria monocytogenes is ubiquitously present in the environment, highly adaptable and tolerant to various stresses. L. monocytogenes is also a foodborne pathogen associated with the largest foodborne outbreaks in recent US history. Signaling pathways involving the second messenger c-di-GMP play important roles in increased stress survival of proteobacteria and mycobacteria, yet roles of c-di-GMP signaling pathways in L. monocytogenes have remained unexplored. Here, we identified and systematically characterized functions of the proteins involved in c-di-GMP synthesis, degradation and sensing. We show that elevated c-di-GMP levels in L. monocytogenes result in synthesis of a previously unknown exopolysaccharide that promotes cell aggregation, inhibits motility in semi-solid media, and importantly, enhances bacterial tolerance to commonly used disinfectants as well as desiccation. These properties of the exopolysaccharide may increase listerial survival in food processing plants as well as on produce during transportation and storage. Elevated c-di-GMP levels also grossly diminish listerial invasiveness in enterocytes in vitro, and impair bacterial accumulation in selected mouse organs during oral infection.
PMCID: PMC4125290  PMID: 25101646
24.  Lmo2 induces hematopoietic stem cell like features in T-cell progenitor cells prior to leukemia 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2013;31(5):882-894.
LIM domain Only 2 (Lmo2) is frequently deregulated in sporadic and gene therapy-induced acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) where its overexpression is an important initiating mutational event. In transgenic and retroviral mouse models, Lmo2 expression can be enforced in multiple hematopoietic lineages but leukemia only arises from T cells. These data suggest that Lmo2 confers clonal growth advantage in T-cell progenitors. We analyzed proliferation, differentiation, and cell death in CD2-Lmo2 transgenic thymic progenitor cells to understand the cellular effects of enforced Lmo2 expression. Most impressively, Lmo2 transgenic T-cell progenitor cells were blocked in differentiation, quiescent, and immortalized in vitro on OP9-DL1 stromal cells. These cellular effects were concordant with a transcriptional signature in Lmo2 transgenic T-cell progenitor cells that is also present in hematopoietic stem cells and Early T-cell Precursor ALL. These results are significant in light of the crucial role of Lmo2 in the maintenance of the hematopoietic stem cell. The cellular effects and transcriptional effects have implications for LMO2-dependent leukemogenesis and the treatment of LMO2-induced T-ALL.
PMCID: PMC3652616  PMID: 23378057
T cells; hematopoiesis; stem cells; leukemia
25.  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

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