Tumor fibroblasts are active partners in tumor progression, but the genes and pathways that mediate this collaboration are ill-defined. Previous work demonstrates that Ets2 function in stromal cells significantly contributes to breast tumor progression. Conditional mouse models were used to study the function of Ets2 in both mammary stromal fibroblasts and epithelial cells. Conditional inactivation of Ets2 in stromal fibroblasts in PyMT and ErbB2 driven tumors significantly reduced tumor growth, however deletion of Ets2 in epithelial cells in the PyMT model had no significant effect. Analysis of gene expression in fibroblasts revealed a tumor- and Ets2-dependent gene signature that was enriched in genes important for ECM remodeling, cell migration, and angiogenesis in both PyMT and ErbB2 driven-tumors. Consistent with these results, PyMT and ErbB2 tumors lacking Ets2 in fibroblasts had fewer functional blood vessels, and Ets2 in fibroblasts elicited changes in gene expression in tumor endothelial cells consistent with this phenotype. An in vivo angiogenesis assay revealed the ability of Ets2 in fibroblasts to promote blood vessel formation in the absence of tumor cells. Importantly, the Ets2-dependent gene expression signatures from both mouse models were able to distinguish human breast tumor stroma from normal stroma, and correlated with patient outcomes in two whole tumor breast cancer data sets. The data reveals a key function for Ets2 in tumor fibroblasts in signaling to endothelial cells to promote tumor angiogenesis. The results highlight the collaborative networks that orchestrate communication between stromal cells and tumor cells, and suggest that targeting tumor fibroblasts may be an effective strategy for developing novel anti-angiogenic therapies.
The endocycle is a variant cell cycle consisting of successive DNA synthesis and Gap phases that yield highly polyploid cells. Although essential for metazoan development, relatively little is known about its control or physiologic role in mammals. Using novel lineage-specific cre mice we identified two opposing arms of the E2F program, one driven by canonical transcription activation (E2F1, E2F2 and E2F3) and the other by atypical repression (E2F7 and E2F8), that converge on the regulation of endocycles in vivo. Ablation of canonical activators in the two endocycling tissues of mammals, trophoblast giant cells in the placenta and hepatocytes in the liver, augmented genome ploidy, whereas ablation of atypical repressors diminished ploidy. These two antagonistic arms coordinate the expression of a unique G2/M transcriptional program that is critical for mitosis, karyokinesis and cytokinesis. These results provide in vivo evidence for a direct role of E2F family members in regulating non-traditional cell cycles in mammals.
The evolutionarily ancient arm of the E2f family of transcription factors consisting of the two atypical members E2f7 and E2f8 is essential for murine embryonic development. However, the critical tissues, cellular processes and molecular pathways regulated by these two factors remain unknown. Using a series of fetal and placental lineage-specific cre mice we show that E2F7/E2F8 functions in extra-embryonic trophoblast lineages are both necessary and sufficient to carry fetuses to term. Expression profiling and biochemical approaches exposed the canonical E2F3a activator as a key family member that antagonizes E2F7/E2F8 functions. Remarkably, the concomitant loss of E2f3a normalized placental gene expression programs, corrected placental defects and fostered the survival of E2f7/E2f8 deficient embryos to birth. In summary, we identified a placental transcriptional network tightly coordinated by activation and repression through two distinct arms of the E2F family that is essential for extra-embryonic cell proliferation, placental development and fetal viability.
Placenta formation during pregnancy requires chorioallantoic branching morphogenesis that involves establishing an amplifying feedback loop between Frizzled5 and Gcm1 to regulate branching initiation and trophoblast differentiation.
Chorioallantoic branching morphogenesis is a key milestone during placental development, creating the large surface area for nutrient and gas exchange, and is therefore critical for the success of term pregnancy. Several Wnt pathway molecules have been shown to regulate placental development. However, it remains largely unknown how Wnt-Frizzled (Fzd) signaling spatiotemporally interacts with other essential regulators, ensuring chorionic branching morphogenesis and angiogenesis during placental development. Employing global and trophoblast-specific Fzd5-null and Gcm1-deficient mouse models, combining trophoblast stem cell lines and tetraploid aggregation assay, we demonstrate here that an amplifying signaling loop between Gcm1 and Fzd5 is essential for normal initiation of branching in the chorionic plate. While Gcm1 upregulates Fzd5 specifically at sites where branching initiates in the basal chorion, this elevated Fzd5 expression via nuclear β-catenin signaling in turn maintains expression of Gcm1. Moreover, we show that Fzd5-mediated signaling induces the disassociation of cell junctions for branching initiation via downregulating ZO-1, claudin 4, and claudin 7 expressions in trophoblast cells at the base of the chorion. In addition, Fzd5-mediated signaling is also important for upregulation of Vegf expression in chorion trophoblast cells. Finally, we demonstrate that Fzd5-Gcm1 signaling cascade is operative during human trophoblast differentiation. These data indicate that Gcm1 and Fzd5 function in an evolutionary conserved positive feedback loop that regulates trophoblast differentiation and sites of chorionic branching morphogenesis.
Abnormal placental development during pregnancy is associated with conditions such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and even fetal death in humans. Here we focus on the earliest steps of placenta formation, which involves the development of the labyrinthine layer, a specialized epithelium that sits between the maternal blood and fetal blood vessels and facilitates the exchange of nutrients, gases, and wastes between the mother and fetus. Pivotal to the development of a functional labyrinth layer are the processes of folding and branching of a flat sheet of trophoblast cells (originally the outer layer of the blastocyst), and of trophoblast cell differentiation. Here, we show in mice that Frizzled5, a receptor component of the Wnt signaling pathway, and Gcm1, an important transcription factor for labyrinth development, form a positive feedback loop that directs normal placental development. We find that Gcm1 up-regulates Fzd5 specifically at branching sites and that elevated Fzd5 expression in turn maintains expression of Gcm1. Moreover, Fzd5-mediated signaling is required for the disassociation of cell junctions and for the up-regulation of Vegf expression in trophoblast cells. Finally, with implications for human disease, we demonstrate that the FZD5-GCM1 signaling cascade operates in primary cultures of human trophoblasts undergoing differentiation.
Mutations of the retinoblastoma tumour suppressor gene (RB1) or components regulating the RB pathway have been identified in almost every human malignancy. The E2F transcription factors function in cell cycle control and are intimately regulated by RB. Studies of model organisms have revealed conserved functions for E2Fs during development, suggesting that the cancer-related proliferative roles of E2F family members represent a recent evolutionary adaptation. However, given that some human tumours have concurrent RB1 inactivation and E2F amplification and overexpression, we propose that there are alternative tumour-promoting activities for the E2F family, which are independent of cell cycle regulation.
S100A7/Psoriasin, a member of the epidermal differentiation complex, is widely overexpressed in invasive ER-negative (ERα-) breast cancers. However, it has not been established whether S100A7 contributes to breast cancer growth or metastasis. Here, we report the consequences of its expression on inflammatory pathways that impact breast cancer growth. Overexpression of human S100A7 or its murine homolog mS100a7a15, enhanced cell proliferation and upregulated various pro-inflammatory molecules in ERα- breast cancer cells. To examine in vivo effects, we generated mice with an inducible form of mS100a7a15 (MMTV-mS100a7a15 mice). Orthotopic implantation of MVT-1 breast tumor cells into the mammary glands of these mice enhanced tumor growth and metastasis. Compared to uninduced transgenic control mice, the mammary glands of mice where mS100a7a15 was induced exhibited increased ductal hyperplasia and expression of molecules involved in proliferation, signaling, tissue remodeling and macrophage recruitment. Furthermore, tumors and lung tissues obtained from these mice showed further increases in pro-metastatic gene expression and recruitment of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Notably, in vivo depletion of TAM inhibited the effects of mS100a7a15 induction on tumor growth and angiogenesis. Further, introduction of soluble hS100A7 or mS100a7a15 enhanced chemotaxis of macrophages via activation of RAGE receptors. In summary, our work employed a powerful new model system to demonstrate that S100A7 enhances breast tumor growth and metastasis by activating proinflammatory and metastatic pathways.
The development of a broad repertoire of T cells, which is essential for effective immune function, occurs in the thymus. Although some data suggest that T cell development can occur extrathymically, many researchers remain skeptical that extrathymic T cell development has an important role in generating the T cell repertoire in healthy individuals. However, it may be important in the setting of poor thymic function or congenital deficit and in the context of autoimmunity, cancer, or regenerative medicine. Here, we report evidence that a stepwise program of T cell development occurs within the human tonsil. We identified 5 tonsillar T cell developmental intermediates: (a) CD34+CD38dimLin– cells, which resemble multipotent progenitors in the bone marrow and thymus; (b) more mature CD34+CD38brightLin– cells; (c) CD34+CD1a+CD11c– cells, which resemble committed T cell lineage precursors in the thymus; (d) CD34–CD1a+CD3–CD11c– cells, which resemble CD4+CD8+ double-positive T cells in the thymus; and (e) CD34–CD1a+CD3+CD11c– cells. The phenotype of each subset closely resembled that of its thymic counterpart. The last 4 populations expressed RAG1 and PTCRA, genes required for TCR rearrangement, and all 5 subsets were capable of ex vivo T cell differentiation. TdT+ cells found within the tonsillar fibrous scaffold expressed CD34 and/or CD1a, indicating that this distinct anatomic region contributes to pre–T cell development, as does the subcapsular region of the thymus. Thus, we provide evidence of a role for the human tonsil in a comprehensive program of extrathymic T cell development.
Solid human tumors and their surrounding microenvironment are hypothesized to co-evolve in a manner that promotes tumor growth, invasiveness and spread. Mouse models of cancer have focused on genetic changes in the epithelial tumor cells and therefore have not robustly tested this hypothesis. We have recently developed a murine breast cancer model that ablates the PTEN tumor suppressor pathway in stromal fibroblasts. Remarkably, the model resembles human breast tumors both at morphologic and molecular levels. We propose that such models reflect subtypes of tumor-stromal co-evolution relevant to human breast cancer, and will therefore be useful in defining the mechanisms that underpin tumor-stroma crosstalk. Additionally, these models should also aid in molecularly classifying human breast tumors based on both the microenvironment subtypes they contain as well as on the tumor subtype.
The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (pRb) regulates cell cycle entry, progression and exit by controlling the activity of the E2F-family of transcription factors. During cell cycle exit pRb acts as a transcriptional repressor by associating with E2F proteins and thereby inhibiting their ability to stimulate the expression of genes required for S phase. Indeed, many tumors harbor mutations in the RB gene and the pRb-E2F pathway is compromised in nearly all types of cancers. In this report we show that both pRb and its interacting partners, the transcriptional factors E2F1-2-3, act as positive modulators of detoxification pathways important for metabolizing and clearing xenobiotics—such as toxins and drugs—from the body. Using a combination of conventional molecular biology techniques and microarray analysis of specific cell populations, we have analyzed the detoxification pathway in murine samples in the presence or absence of pRb and/or E2F1-2-3. In this report, we show that both pRb and E2F1-2-3 act as positive modulators of detoxification pathways in mice, challenging the conventional view of E2F1-2-3 as transcriptional repressors negatively regulated by pRb. These results suggest that mutations altering the pRb-E2F axis may have consequences beyond loss of cell cycle control by altering the ability of tissues to remove toxins and to properly metabolize anticancer drugs, and might help to understand the formation and progression rates of different types of cancer, as well as to better design appropriate therapies based on the particular genetic composition of the tumors.
Dysregulation of protein kinase A (PKA) activity, caused by loss of function mutations in PRKAR1A, is known to induce tumor formation in the inherited tumor syndrome Carney complex (CNC) and is also associated with sporadic tumors of the thyroid and adrenal. We have previously shown that Prkar1a+/− mice develop schwannomas reminiscent of those seen in CNC and that similar tumors are observed in tissue-specific knockouts (KO) of Prkar1a targeted to the neural crest. Within these tumors, we have previously described the presence of epithelial islands, although the nature of these structures was unclear. In this article, we report that these epithelial structures are derived from KO cells originating in the neural crest. Analysis of the mesenchymal marker vimentin revealed that this protein was markedly down-regulated not only from the epithelial islands, but also from the tumor as a whole, consistent with mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). In vitro, Prkar1a null primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts, which display constitutive PKA signaling, also showed evidence for MET, with a loss of vimentin and up-regulation of the epithelial marker E-cadherin. Reduction of vimentin protein occurred at the posttranslational level and was rescued by proteasomal inhibition. Finally, this down-regulation of vimentin was recapitulated in the adrenal nodules of CNC patients, confirming an unexpected and previously unrecognized role for PKA in MET.
Tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) are implicated in breast cancer progression and metastasis, but relatively little is known about the genes pathways in these cells that contribute to malignant phenotypes. The transcription factor Ets2 is a direct target of signaling pathways involved in regulating macrophage functions during inflammation. To test whether Ets2 in TAMs modulated mouse mammary tumor growth and metastasis a genetic approach was used to conditionally delete Ets2 in TAMs. Ets2 deletion in TAMs decreased the frequency and size of mammary tumor metastases to lung in three different metastatic models. Expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays with isolated TAMs established that Ets2 repressed several well characterized inhibitors of angiogenesis. Consistent with these results, Ets2 ablation in TAMs led to decreased tumor angiogenesis and growth. An Ets2-TAM expression signature was identified within human breast cancer expression data and this signature could retrospectively predict overall survival of breast cancer patients in two independent sets of human breast cancer microarray data. In summary, we have identified Ets2 as a critical factor that acts to enhance mammary tumor growth and metastasis by regulating a transcriptional program in TAMs.
Tumor Macrophages; Breast Cancer; Ets2; Metastasis; Angiogenesis
Translational research projects target a wide variety of diseases, test many different kinds of biomedical hypotheses, and employ a large assortment of experimental methodologies. Diverse data, complex execution environments, and demanding security and reliability requirements make the implementation of these projects extremely challenging and require novel e-Science technologies.
The E2F family of transcription factors is critical for the control of cell cycle progression. We now show that the specific inactivation of E2F3 in mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) results in a disruption of the centrosome duplication cycle. Loss of E2F3, but not E2F1, E2F2, E2F4, or E2F5 results in unregulated cyclin E-dependent kinase activity, defects in nucleophosmin B association with centrosomes, and premature centriole separation and duplication. Consequently, this defect leads to centrosome amplification, mitotic spindle defects, and aneuploidy. Our findings implicate the E2F3 transcription factor as an important link that orchestrates DNA and centrosome duplication cycles, ensuring the faithful transmission of genetic material to daughter cells.
The E2F transcription factors have emerged as critical apoptotic effectors. Herein we report that the E2F family member E2F3a can be induced by DNA damage through transcriptional and posttranslational mechanisms. We demonstrate that the posttranslational induction of human E2F3a is dependent on the checkpoint kinases. Moreover, we show that human E2F3a is a substrate for the checkpoint kinases (chk kinases) and that mutation of the chk phosphorylation site eliminates the DNA damage inducibility of the protein. Furthermore, we demonstrate that E2F1 and E2F2 are transcriptionally induced by DNA damage in an E2f3-dependent manner. Finally, using both in vitro and in vivo approaches, we establish that E2f3 is required for DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Thus, our data reveal the novel ability of E2f3 to function as a master regulator of the DNA damage response.
In the classic paradigm of mammalian cell cycle control, Rb functions to restrict cells from entering S phase by sequestering E2F activators (E2f1, E2f2 and E2f3), which are invariably portrayed as the ultimate effectors of a transcriptional program that commit cells to enter and progress through S phase1, 2. Using a panel of tissue-specific cre-transgenic mice and conditional E2f alleles we examine the effects of E2f1, E2f2 and E2f3 triple deficiency in murine ES cells, embryos and small intestines. We show that in normal dividing progenitor cells E2F1-3 function as transcriptional activators, but contrary to current dogma, are dispensable for cell division and instead are necessary for cell survival. In differentiating cells they function in complex with Rb as repressors to silence E2F targets and facilitate exit from the cell cycle. The inactivation of Rb in differentiating cells resulted in a switch of E2F1-3 from repressors to activators, leading to the superactivation of E2F responsive targets and ectopic cell divisions, and loss of E2f1-3 completely suppressed these phenotypes. This work contextualizes the activator versus repressor functions of E2F1-3 in vivo, revealing distinct roles in dividing versus differentiating cells and in normal versus cancer-like cell cycles in vivo.
Small intestine; cell cycle; E2F; retinoblastoma; tumor suppressor
The tumor stroma is believed to contribute to some of the most malignant characteristics of epithelial tumors. However, signaling between stromal and tumor cells is complex and remains poorly understood. Here we show that the genetic inactivation of Pten in stromal fibroblasts of mouse mammary glands accelerated the initiation, progression and malignant transformation of mammary epithelial tumors. This was associated with the massive remodeling of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), innate immune cell infiltration and increased angiogenesis. Loss of Pten in stromal fibroblasts led to increased expression, phosphorylation (T72) and recruitment of Ets2 to target promoters known to be involved in these processes. Remarkably, Ets2 inactivation in Pten stroma-deleted tumors ameliorated disruption of the tumor microenvironment and was sufficient to decrease tumor growth and progression. Global gene expression profiling of mammary stromal cells identified a Pten-specific signature that was highly represented in the tumor stroma of breast cancer patients. These findings identify the Pten-Ets2 axis as a critical stroma-specific signaling pathway that suppresses mammary epithelial tumors.
E2fs 1-3, also known as activating E2fs, are viewed broadly as critical positive cell cycle regulators. They induce transcription and can drive cells out of quiescence. In flies and mammalian fibroblasts removing activating E2fs causes cell cycle arrest, suggesting an obligate proliferative role 1, 2. However, arrest is indirect as it is alleviated by removing the repressive E2f, dE2f2, in flies, or the tumor suppressor p53 in fibroblasts 3–5. Whether activating E2fs are required for division in vivo is thus an area of lively debate 6. Activating E2fs are also well known pro-apoptotic factors, a defense against oncogenesis 7. In some contexts E2f1 limits irradiation-induced apoptosis 8, 9, but in flies this occurs through repression of hid and the mammalian equivalent, Smac/Diablo is induced not repressed by E2f1 10, and in keratinoctyes it occurs indirectly through induction of DNA repair targets 11. Thus, a direct pro-survival function for activating E2fs in mammals has not been established. To address E2f1-3 function in vivo we focused on the mouse retina, a relatively simple CNS component that can be manipulated without compromising viability and has provided considerable insight into development and cancer 12–14. Here, we show that E2f1-3-deficient retinal progenitor cells or activated Muller glia divide. In the absence of activating E2fs, the Myc family drives proliferation. However, down-regulation of Sirt1, a p53 deacetylase, leads to hyperacetylation of p53 and cell death. Thus, activating E2fs are not universally required for mammalian cell division, but have an unexpected prosurvival role in development.
E2f; Neurogenesis; p21Cip1; p57Kip2; Histone deacetylase; Sirtuin; p53; Resveratrol
As major regulators of the cell cycle, apoptosis and differentiation, E2F transcription factors have been studied extensively in a broad range of organisms. The recent identification of atypical E2F family members further expands our structural, functional and molecular view of the cellular E2F activity. Unlike other family members, atypical E2Fs have a duplicated DNA-binding domain and control gene expression without heterodimerization with DP proteins. More recently, knock-out strategies in plants and mammals have pinpointed that atypical E2Fs play a critical role in plant cell size control, endocycle regulation, proliferation, and apoptotic response upon DNA stress. Here, we review the emerging biochemical and genetic data on these unique E2F members and discuss their roles in plant and animal development. Their position at the crossroads between proliferation and DNA stress response marks these novel E2F proteins as interesting study objects in the field of tumor biology.
Angiogenesis is a complex process orchestrated by both growth factors and cell adhesion and is initiated by focal degradation of the vascular basement membrane with subsequent migration and proliferation of endothelial cells. The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway is required for EC function during angiogenesis. Although in vitro studies implicate ERK1 and ERK2 in endothelial cell survival, their precise role in angiogenesis in vivo remains poorly defined. Cre/loxP technology was used to inactivate Erk1 and Erk2 in endothelial cells during murine development, resulting in embryonic lethality due to severely reduced angiogenesis. Deletion of Erk1 and Erk2 in primary endothelial cells resulted in decreased cell proliferation and migration, but not in increased apoptosis. Expression of key cell cycle regulators was diminished in the double knockout cells, and decreased DNA synthesis could be observed in endothelial cells during embryogenesis. Interestingly, both Paxillin and Focal Adhesion Kinase were expressed at lower levels in endothelial cells lacking Erk1 and Erk2 both in vivo and in vitro, leading to defects in the organization of the cytoskeleton and in cell motility. The regulation of Paxillin and Focal Adhesion Kinase expression occurred post-transcriptionally. These results demonstrate that ERK1 and ERK2 coordinate endothelial cell proliferation and migration during angiogenesis.
This paper presents a workflow designed to quantitatively characterize the 3-D structural attributes of macroscopic tissue specimens acquired at a micron level resolution using light microscopy. The specific application is a study of the morphological change in a mouse placenta induced by knocking out the retinoblastoma gene.
This workflow includes four major components: (i) Serial-section image acquisition, (ii) image preprocessing, (iii) image analysis involving 2-D pair-wise registration, 2-D segmentation and 3-D reconstruction, and (iv) visualization and quantification of phenotyping parameters. Several new algorithms have been developed within each workflow component. The results confirm the hypotheses that (i) the volume of labyrinth tissue decreases in mutant mice with the retinoblastoma (Rb) gene knockout and (ii) there is more interdigitation at the surface between the labyrinth and spongiotrophoblast tissues in mutant placenta. Additional confidence stem from agreement in the 3-D visualization and the quantitative results generated.
The source code is available upon request.
Light microscopy; histology staining; genetic phenotyping; mutation; morphometrics image analysis; image registration; segmentation; visualization; imaging workflow
The E2f3 locus encodes two Rb-binding gene products, E2F3a and E2F3b, which are differentially regulated during the cell cycle and are thought to be critical for cell cycle progression. We targeted the individual inactivation of E2f3a or E2f3b in mice and examined their contributions to cell proliferation and development. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and gene expression experiments using mouse embryo fibroblasts deficient in each isoform showed that E2F3a and E2F3b contribute to G1/S-specific gene expression and cell proliferation. Expression of E2f3a or E2f3b was sufficient to support E2F target gene expression and cell proliferation in the absence of other E2F activators, E2f1 and E2f2, suggesting that these isoforms have redundant functions. Consistent with this notion, E2f3a−/− and E2f3b−/− embryos developed normally, whereas embryos lacking both isoforms (E2f3−/−) died in utero. We also find that E2f3a and E2f3b have redundant and nonredundant roles in the context of Rb mutation. Analysis of double-knockout embryos suggests that the ectopic proliferation and apoptosis in Rb−/− embryos is mainly mediated by E2f3a in the placenta and nervous system and by both E2f3a and E2f3b in lens fiber cells. Together, we conclude that the contributions of E2F3a and E2F3b in cell proliferation and development are context dependent.
The novel E2f7 and E2f8 family members are thought to function as transcriptional repressors important for the control of cell proliferation. Here we have analyzed the consequences of inactivating E2f7 and E2f8 in mice and show that their individual loss had no significant effect on development. Their combined ablation, however, resulted in massive apoptosis and dilation of blood vessels, culminating in lethality by embryonic day E11.5. A deficiency in E2f7 and E2f8 led to an increase in E2f1 and p53, as well as in many stress-related genes. Homo- and hetero-dimers of E2F7 and E2F8 were found on target promoters, including E2f1. Importantly, loss of either E2f1 or p53 suppressed the massive apoptosis in double mutant embryos. These results identify E2F7 and E2F8 as a unique repressive arm of the E2F transcriptional network that is critical for embryonic development and control of the E2F1-p53 apoptotic axis.
E2Fs; embryo development; apoptosis; cell cycle; transcriptional regulation
The simian virus 40 large T antigen contributes to neoplastic transformation, in part, by targeting the Rb family of tumor suppressors. There are three known Rb proteins, pRb, p130, and p107, all of which block the cell cycle by preventing the transcription of genes regulated by the E2F family of transcription factors. T antigen interacts directly with Rb proteins and disrupts Rb-E2F complexes both in vitro and in cultured cells. Consequently, T antigen is thought to inhibit transcriptional repression by the Rb family proteins by disrupting their interaction with E2F proteins, thus allowing E2F-dependent transcription and the expression of cellular genes needed for entry into S phase. This model predicts that active E2F-dependent transcription is required for T-antigen-induced transformation. To test this hypothesis, we have examined the status of Rb-E2F complexes in murine enterocytes. Previous studies have shown that T antigen drives enterocytes into S phase, resulting in intestinal hyperplasia, and that the induction of enterocyte proliferation requires T-antigen binding to Rb proteins. In this paper, we show that normal growth-arrested enterocytes contain p130-E2F4 complexes and that T-antigen expression destroys these complexes, most likely by stimulating p130 degradation. Furthermore, unlike their normal counterparts, enterocytes expressing T antigen contain abundant levels of E2F2 and E2F3a. Concomitantly, T-antigen-induced intestinal proliferation is reduced in mice lacking either E2F2 alone or both E2F2 and E2F3a, but not in mice lacking E2F1. These studies support a model in which T antigen eliminates Rb-E2F repressive complexes so that specific activator E2Fs can drive S-phase entry.
The cell cycle regulatory retinoblastoma (Rb) protein is a key regulator of neural precursor proliferation; however, its role has been expanded to include a novel cell-autonomous role in mediating neuronal migration. We sought to determine the Rb-interacting factors that mediate both the cell cycle and migration defects. E2F1 and E2F3 are likely Rb-interacting candidates that we have shown to be deregulated in the absence of Rb. Using mice with compound null mutations of Rb and E2F1 or E2F3, we asked to what extent either E2F1 or E2F3 interacts with Rb in neurogenesis. Here, we report that E2F1 and E2F3 are both functionally relevant targets in neural precursor proliferation, cell cycle exit, and laminar patterning. Each also partially mediates the Rb requirement for neuronal survival. Neuronal migration, however, is specifically mediated through E2F3, beyond its role in cell cycle regulation. This study not only outlines overlapping and distinct functions for E2Fs in neurogenesis but also is the first to establish a physiologically relevant role for the Rb/E2F pathway beyond cell cycle regulation in vivo.