Gene Summary

Gene:GFI1; growth factor independent 1 transcriptional repressor
Aliases: SCN2, GFI-1, GFI1A, ZNF163
Summary:This gene encodes a nuclear zinc finger protein that functions as a transcriptional repressor. This protein plays a role in diverse developmental contexts, including hematopoiesis and oncogenesis. It functions as part of a complex along with other cofactors to control histone modifications that lead to silencing of the target gene promoters. Mutations in this gene cause autosomal dominant severe congenital neutropenia, and also dominant nonimmune chronic idiopathic neutropenia of adults, which are heterogeneous hematopoietic disorders that cause predispositions to leukemias and infections. Multiple alternatively spliced variants, encoding the same protein, have been identified for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:zinc finger protein Gfi-1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Mutation
  • Gene Enhancer Elements
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • Gene Expression
  • Signal Transduction
  • Young Adult
  • Xenograft Models
  • U937 Cells
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
  • Disease Progression
  • Leukemic Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromosome 1
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Virus Integration
  • Repressor Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Base Sequence
  • Knockout Mice
  • Promoter Regions
  • GFI1
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3
  • Adolescents
  • Epigenetics
  • p53 Protein
  • Transcription
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Neutropenia
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Transcription Factors
  • Apoptosis
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • TNF
Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (1)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
LeukaemiaGFI1 and Leukaemia View Publications41

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: GFI1 (cancer-related)

Lee C, Rudneva VA, Erkek S, et al.
Lsd1 as a therapeutic target in Gfi1-activated medulloblastoma.
Nat Commun. 2019; 10(1):332 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Drugs that modify the epigenome are powerful tools for treating cancer, but these drugs often have pleiotropic effects, and identifying patients who will benefit from them remains a major clinical challenge. Here we show that medulloblastomas driven by the transcription factor Gfi1 are exquisitely dependent on the enzyme lysine demethylase 1 (Kdm1a/Lsd1). We demonstrate that Lsd1 physically associates with Gfi1, and that these proteins cooperate to inhibit genes involved in neuronal commitment and differentiation. We also show that Lsd1 is essential for Gfi1-mediated transformation: Gfi1 proteins that cannot recruit Lsd1 are unable to drive tumorigenesis, and genetic ablation of Lsd1 markedly impairs tumor growth in vivo. Finally, pharmacological inhibitors of Lsd1 potently inhibit growth of Gfi1-driven tumors. These studies provide important insight into the mechanisms by which Gfi1 contributes to tumorigenesis, and identify Lsd1 inhibitors as promising therapeutic agents for Gfi1-driven medulloblastoma.

Liang L, Zeng JH, Qin XG, et al.
Distinguishable Prognostic Signatures of Left- and Right-Sided Colon Cancer: a Study Based on Sequencing Data.
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018; 48(2):475-490 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Left- and right-sided colon cancers are considered to be two different diseases and have altered outcomes. However, specific molecules to predict the prognosis of left- and right-sided colon cancers are currently lacking.
METHODS: Expression profiling of colon cancer were downloaded from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) of left- and right-sided colon cancers were compared by DESeq analysis. The prognostic values of DEGs were assessed by univariate and multivariate Cox regression. Prognostic index models of two side colon cancers were conducted with prognostic values genes, respectively. Interaction of DEGs was then analyzed by the protein-protein interaction (PPI). Different biology function of two sides of colon cancer was assessed by Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA).
RESULTS: A total of 167 DEGs were identified between left- and right-sided colon cancers based on TCGA data. Using univariate COX regression analysis, five genes (PHACTR3, CKMT2, CYP2W1, ERFE, HOXC4) were related to overall survival in left-sided, and eight distinguishable genes (EREG, ERFE, HOXC6, SLC22A31, TFF1, GFI1, ZG16, RASL10B) in right-sided. Further, left-sided prognostic model was established with PHACTR3 and CKMT2 (HR=2.040; 95%CI=1.004-4.145; P=0.049). Distinguishable prognostic signature for right-sided colon cancer was established based on EREG, ERFE, GFI1, and RASL10B (HR=3.530; 95%CI: 1.934-6.444; P< 0.001) in multivariate analysis. PPI analysis of 167 DEGs showed that CCL5, GNG4, GNLY, GZMH, DRD2, and FASLG genes were at the core of interaction network. In GSEA function analysis, four pathways, including antigen processing and presentation, natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity, intestinal immune network for Iga production, and type I diabetes mellitus, were significantly enriched in the DEGs of the right-sided colon cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: This study constructs a panel of potential prognostic model of left- and right-sided colon cancers, respectively. We also provide molecular biological alterations between left- and right-sided colon cancers.

Cheng B, Tang S, Zhe N, et al.
Low expression of GFI-1 Gene is associated with Panobinostat-resistance in acute myeloid leukemia through influencing the level of HO-1.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2018; 100:509-520 [PubMed] Related Publications
To improve the treatment outcomes of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), epigenetic modification has been widely tested and used in recent years. However, drug-resistance is still a choke point to cure the malignancy. The growth factor independent 1 transcriptional repressor (GFI-1), as a zinc-finger transcriptional repressor, can bind histone deacetylases to allow the transcriptional repression. According to the finding of our study, AML patients with low level of GFI-1 not only implicated poor prognosis but also caused Panobinostat-resistance. In our prevent study revealed that heme oxygenase-1(HO-1) was one of the main factors leading to chemotherapy sensitivity to AML. Thus, this study tried to test the correlation between GFI-1 and HO-1. Our study discovered that AML patients with lower expression of GFI-1 had higher level of HO-1, HDAC1, HDAC2 and HDAC3, which resulted in poor prognosis in AML. The results of the in vitro study were the same. Panobinostat is a promising new class of anti-cancer drugs in AML. However, knocking down GFI-1 by siRNA could eliminate the Panobinostat-induced cell apoptosis. Subsequently, we utilized ZnPP to down regulate the level of HO-1, finding that the Panobinostat-resistance between the low level of GFI-1 and empty vector had eased. After further exploring the mechanism, it could be found that with knock down GFI-1, the phosphorylation of Akt and PI3K could be activated. Subsequently, Akt pathway and HO-1 inhibitor were utilized respectively and the resistance was reversed. It suggested that the resistance of Panobinostat to AML cells at low level of GFI-1 was mainly due to up-regulated level of HO-1 through the PI3K-Akt pathway.

Hönes JM, Thivakaran A, Botezatu L, et al.
Enforced GFI1 expression impedes human and murine leukemic cell growth.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):15720 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The differentiation of haematopoietic cells is regulated by a plethora of so-called transcription factors (TFs). Mutations in genes encoding TFs or graded reduction in their expression levels can induce the development of various malignant diseases such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Growth Factor Independence 1 (GFI1) is a transcriptional repressor with key roles in haematopoiesis, including regulating self-renewal of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) as well as myeloid and lymphoid differentiation. Analysis of AML patients and different AML mouse models with reduced GFI1 gene expression levels revealed a direct link between low GFI1 protein level and accelerated AML development and inferior prognosis. Here, we report that upregulated expression of GFI1 in several widely used leukemic cell lines inhibits their growth and decreases the ability to generate colonies in vitro. Similarly, elevated expression of GFI1 impedes the in vitro expansion of murine pre-leukemic cells. Using a humanized AML model, we demonstrate that upregulation of GFI1 expression leads to myeloid differentiation morphologically and immunophenotypically, increased level of apoptosis and reduction in number of cKit

Volpe G, Walton DS, Grainger DE, et al.
Prognostic significance of high GFI1 expression in AML of normal karyotype and its association with a FLT3-ITD signature.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):11148 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Growth Factor Independence 1 (GFI1) is a transcriptional repressor that plays a critical role during both myeloid and lymphoid haematopoietic lineage commitment. Several studies have demonstrated the involvement of GFI1 in haematological malignancies and have suggested that low expression of GFI1 is a negative indicator of disease progression for both myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). In this study, we have stratified AML patients into those defined as having a normal karyotype (CN-AML). Unlike the overall pattern in AML, those patients with CN-AML have a poorer survival rate when GFI1 expression is high. In this group, high GFI1 expression is paralleled by higher FLT3 expression, and, even when the FLT3 gene is not mutated, exhibit a FLT3-ITD signature of gene expression. Knock-down of GFI1 expression in the human AML Fujioka cell line led to a decrease in the level of FLT3 RNA and protein and to the down regulation of FLT3-ITD signature genes, thus linking two major prognostic indicators for AML.

Yuan C, Xu L, Du P, Pang J
miRNA-650 exerts anti-leukemia activity by inhibiting cell proliferation through Gfi1 targeting.
Tumori. 2018; 104(5):369-374 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND:: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common malignancy of the bone marrow with a high mortality. Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing have led to the identification of various miRNAs implicated in the pathogenesis of AML. We found in this study that miR-650, a miRNA that was traditionally considered to participate in the onset of hepatocellular carcinoma, might play a significant role in AML development and progression.
METHODS:: qRT-PCR was used to detect the expression of miR-650 and Gfi1 in AML patients and healthy controls. Next, a luciferase assay was conducted to verify the target effect of miR-650 on Gfi1. Moreover, the CCK-8 assay was performed to evaluate the effect of miR-650 on the proliferation of AML cells in the presence and absence of Gfi1.
RESULTS:: miR-650 was downregulated in AML whereas Gfi1 was upregulated. miR-650 could negatively regulate Gfi1 via direct targeting of its 3'-UTR, which was confirmed by luciferase assay. In addition, overexpression of miR-650 reduced cell proliferation in K562 cells, whereas an increase in cell proliferation was observed when K562 cells were transfected with miR-650 inhibitor, which was compromised in response to the knockdown of Gfi1.
CONCLUSIONS:: Our research demonstrated that miR-650 modulates cell proliferation in AML through affecting the expression of Gfi1, which occurs by direct target action.

Xing W, Xiao Y, Lu X, et al.
GFI1 downregulation promotes inflammation-linked metastasis of colorectal cancer.
Cell Death Differ. 2017; 24(5):929-943 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Inflammation is frequently associated with initiation, progression, and metastasis of colorectal cancer (CRC). Here, we unveil a CRC-specific metastatic programme that is triggered via the transcriptional repressor, GFI1. Using data from a large cohort of clinical samples including inflammatory bowel disease and CRC, and a cellular model of CRC progression mediated by cross-talk between the cancer cell and the inflammatory microenvironment, we identified GFI1 as a gating regulator responsible for a constitutively activated signalling circuit that renders CRC cells competent for metastatic spread. Further analysis of mouse models with metastatic CRC and human clinical specimens reinforced the influence of GFI1 downregulation in promoting CRC metastatic spread. The novel role of GFI1 is uncovered for the first time in a human solid tumour such as CRC. Our results imply that GFI1 is a potential therapeutic target for interfering with inflammation-induced CRC progression and spread.

Sugino N, Kawahara M, Tatsumi G, et al.
A novel LSD1 inhibitor NCD38 ameliorates MDS-related leukemia with complex karyotype by attenuating leukemia programs via activating super-enhancers.
Leukemia. 2017; 31(11):2303-2314 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) regulates gene expression by affecting histone modifications and is a promising target for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with specific genetic abnormalities. Novel LSD1 inhibitors, NCD25 and NCD38, inhibited growth of MLL-AF9 leukemia as well as erythroleukemia, megakaryoblastic leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) overt leukemia cells in the concentration range that normal hematopoiesis was spared. NCD25 and NCD38 invoked the myeloid development programs, hindered the MDS and AML oncogenic programs, and commonly upregulated 62 genes in several leukemia cells. NCD38 elevated H3K27ac level on enhancers of these LSD1 signature genes and newly activated ~500 super-enhancers. Upregulated genes with super-enhancer activation in erythroleukemia cells were enriched in leukocyte differentiation. Eleven genes including GFI1 and ERG, but not CEBPA, were identified as the LSD1 signature with super-enhancer activation. Super-enhancers of these genes were activated prior to induction of the transcripts and myeloid differentiation. Depletion of GFI1 attenuated myeloid differentiation by NCD38. Finally, a single administration of NCD38 causes the in vivo eradication of primary MDS-related leukemia cells with a complex karyotype. Together, NCD38 derepresses super-enhancers of hematopoietic regulators that are silenced abnormally by LSD1, attenuates leukemogenic programs and consequently exerts anti-leukemic effect against MDS-related leukemia with adverse outcome.

Adamik J, Jin S, Sun Q, et al.
EZH2 or HDAC1 Inhibition Reverses Multiple Myeloma-Induced Epigenetic Suppression of Osteoblast Differentiation.
Mol Cancer Res. 2017; 15(4):405-417 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
In multiple myeloma, osteolytic lesions rarely heal because of persistent suppressed osteoblast differentiation resulting in a high fracture risk. Herein, chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses reveal that multiple myeloma cells induce repressive epigenetic histone changes at the

Xian G, Zhao J, Qin C, et al.
Simvastatin attenuates macrophage-mediated gemcitabine resistance of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma by regulating the TGF-β1/Gfi-1 axis.
Cancer Lett. 2017; 385:65-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly lethal malignancy with an intrinsic resistance to almost all chemotherapeutic drugs, including gemcitabine. An abundance of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), which can promote the resistance of PDAC to gemcitabine, has been observed in the microenvironments of several tumors. In this study, we confirmed that incubation in TAM-conditioned medium (TAM-CM) reduces the gemcitabine-induced apoptosis of PDAC cells. Simvastatin attenuated the TAM-mediated resistance of PDAC cells to gemcitabine. Further investigation found that simvastatin reversed the TAM-mediated down-regulation of Gfi-1 and up-regulation of CTGF and HMGB1. Simvastatin induced Gfi-1 expression, which increased the sensitivity of PDAC cells to gemcitabine by decreasing TGF-β1 secretion by TAMs. A luciferase reporter assay and ChIP assay revealed that Gfi-1 directly repressed the transcription of CTGF and HMGB1. Simvastatin also reversed the effects of gemcitabine on the expression of TGF-β1 and Gfi-1 and reduced the resistance of PDAC to gemcitabine in vivo. These results provide the first evidence that simvastatin attenuates the TAM-mediated gemcitabine resistance of PDAC by blocking the TGF-β1/Gfi-1 axis. These findings suggest the TGF-β1/Gfi-1 axis as a novel therapeutic target for treating PDAC.

Gui X, Meng Z, McConnell YJ, et al.
Differing expression profiles of Notch/enterocyte and Wnt/secretory lineage signallings are associated with morphological diversity of appendiceal tumours.
J Clin Pathol. 2017; 70(1):40-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Tumours of appendix, including classic carcinoid tumour (CCT), goblet cell carcinoid (GCC), low-grade appendiceal mucinous neoplasm, high-grade appendiceal mucinous neoplasm/mucinous carcinoma (MCA) and non-mucinous adenocarcinoma (NMA), show different and sometimes mixed morphological features. It was hypothesised that these tumours originate from common tumour stem cell(s) with potential of various cell lineage differentiation. In normal intestinal epithelium, absorptive lineage (enterocytes) differentiation is driven by Notch-Hes1 pathway, while secretory lineage is driven by Wnt-Math1 pathway and further separated by different downstream signallings into three sublineages (Gfi1-Klf4/Elf3 for goblet cells, Gfi1-Sox9 for Paneth cells and Ngn3-Pdx1/Beta2/Pax4 for enteroendocrine cells).
METHODS: The expressions of various signalling proteins in different appendiceal tumours were detected by immunohistochemistry on tumour tissue microarray.
RESULTS: CCT showed reduced Hes1/Elf3 and Sox9/Klf4 coupled with elevated Math1, in keeping with endocrine phenotype. As compared with CCT, GCC showed higher Klf4 and similar Ngn3/Pax4, indicative of a shift of differentiation towards goblet cells as well as endocrine cells. GCC displayed a Notch signalling similar to adenocarcinoma. Mucinous tumours showed lower Elf3 than normal appendiceal epithelium and higher Math1/Gfi1/Klf4, suggestive of a differentiation towards less enterocytes but more goblet cells. NMA showed Notch signalling similar to other glandular tumours, but lower Klf4. However, some seemingly paradoxical changes were also observed, probably suggesting gene mutations and/or our incomplete understanding of the intestinal cell differentiation.
CONCLUSIONS: Wnt/secretory lineage protein and Notch/absorptive lineage protein expression profiles are generally associated with the tumour cell differentiation and morphological diversity of common appendiceal tumours.

Botezatu L, Michel LC, Helness A, et al.
Epigenetic therapy as a novel approach for GFI136N-associated murine/human AML.
Exp Hematol. 2016; 44(8):713-726.e14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epigenetic changes can contribute to development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a malignant disease of the bone marrow. A single-nucleotide polymorphism of transcription factor growth factor independence 1 (GFI1) generates a protein with an asparagine at position 36 (GFI1(36N)) instead of a serine at position 36 (GFI1(36S)), which is associated with de novo AML in humans. However, how GFI1(36N) predisposes to AML is poorly understood. To explore the mechanism, we used knock-in mouse strains expressing GFI1(36N) or GFI1(36S). Presence of GFI1(36N) shortened the latency and increased the incidence of AML in different murine models of myelodysplastic syndrome/AML. On a molecular level, GFI1(36N) induced genomewide epigenetic changes, leading to expression of AML-associated genes. On a therapeutic level, use of histone acetyltransferase inhibitors specifically impeded growth of GFI1(36N)-expressing human and murine AML cells in vitro and in vivo. These results establish, as a proof of principle, how epigenetic changes in GFI1(36N)-induced AML can be targeted.

Jiang X, Hu C, Arnovitz S, et al.
miR-22 has a potent anti-tumour role with therapeutic potential in acute myeloid leukaemia.
Nat Commun. 2016; 7:11452 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
MicroRNAs are subject to precise regulation and have key roles in tumorigenesis. In contrast to the oncogenic role of miR-22 reported in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and breast cancer, here we show that miR-22 is an essential anti-tumour gatekeeper in de novo acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) where it is significantly downregulated. Forced expression of miR-22 significantly suppresses leukaemic cell viability and growth in vitro, and substantially inhibits leukaemia development and maintenance in vivo. Mechanistically, miR-22 targets multiple oncogenes, including CRTC1, FLT3 and MYCBP, and thus represses the CREB and MYC pathways. The downregulation of miR-22 in AML is caused by TET1/GFI1/EZH2/SIN3A-mediated epigenetic repression and/or DNA copy-number loss. Furthermore, nanoparticles carrying miR-22 oligos significantly inhibit leukaemia progression in vivo. Together, our study uncovers a TET1/GFI1/EZH2/SIN3A/miR-22/CREB-MYC signalling circuit and thereby provides insights into epigenetic/genetic mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of AML, and also highlights the clinical potential of miR-22-based AML therapy.

Sera Y, Yamasaki N, Oda H, et al.
Identification of cooperative genes for E2A-PBX1 to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Cancer Sci. 2016; 107(7):890-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
E2A-PBX1 is a chimeric gene product detected in t(1;19)-bearing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with B-cell lineage. To investigate the leukemogenic process, we generated conditional knock-in (cKI) mice for E2A-PBX1, in which E2A-PBX1 is inducibly expressed under the control of the endogenous E2A promoter. Despite the induced expression of E2A-PBX1, no hematopoietic disease was observed, strongly suggesting that additional genetic alterations are required to develop leukemia. To address this possibility, retroviral insertional mutagenesis was used. Virus infection efficiently induced T-cell, B-cell, and biphenotypic ALL in E2A-PBX1 cKI mice. Inverse PCR identified eight retroviral common integration sites, in which enhanced expression was observed in the Gfi1, Mycn, and Pim1 genes. In addition, it is of note that viral integration and overexpression of the Zfp521 gene was detected in one tumor with B-cell lineage; we previously identified Zfp521 as a cooperative gene with E2A-HLF, another E2A-involving fusion gene with B-lineage ALL. The cooperative oncogenicity of E2A-PBX1 with overexpressed Zfp521 in B-cell tumorigenesis was indicated by the finding that E2A-PBX1 cKI, Zfp521 transgenic compound mice developed B-lineage ALL. Moreover, upregulation of ZNF521, the human counterpart of Zfp521, was found in several human leukemic cell lines bearing t(1;19). These results indicate that E2A-PBX1 cooperates with additional gene alterations to develop ALL. Among them, enhanced expression of ZNF521 may play a clinically relevant role in E2A fusion genes to develop B-lineage ALL.

Hönes JM, Botezatu L, Helness A, et al.
GFI1 as a novel prognostic and therapeutic factor for AML/MDS.
Leukemia. 2016; 30(6):1237-45 [PubMed] Related Publications
Genetic and epigenetic aberrations contribute to the initiation and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). GFI1, a zinc-finger transcriptional repressor, exerts its function by recruiting histone deacetylases to target genes. We present data that low expression of GFI1 is associated with an inferior prognosis of AML patients. To elucidate the mechanism behind this, we generated a humanized mouse strain with reduced GFI1 expression (GFI1-KD). Here we show that AML development induced by onco-fusion proteins such as MLL-AF9 or NUP98-HOXD13 is accelerated in mice with low human GFI1 expression. Leukemic cells from animals that express low levels of GFI1 show increased H3K9 acetylation compared to leukemic cells from mice with normal human GFI1 expression, resulting in the upregulation of genes involved in leukemogenesis. We investigated a new epigenetic therapy approach for this subgroup of AML patients. We could show that AML blasts from GFI1-KD mice and from AML patients with low GFI1 levels were more sensitive to treatment with histone acetyltransferase inhibitors than cells with normal GFI1 expression levels. We suggest therefore that GFI1 has a dose-dependent role in AML progression and development. GFI1 levels are involved in epigenetic regulation, which could open new therapeutic approaches for AML patients.

Möröy T, Vassen L, Wilkes B, Khandanpour C
From cytopenia to leukemia: the role of Gfi1 and Gfi1b in blood formation.
Blood. 2015; 126(24):2561-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The DNA-binding zinc finger transcription factors Gfi1 and Gfi1b were discovered more than 20 years ago and are recognized today as major regulators of both early hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cells. Both proteins function as transcriptional repressors by recruiting histone-modifying enzymes to promoters and enhancers of target genes. The establishment of Gfi1 and Gfi1b reporter mice made it possible to visualize their cell type-specific expression and to understand their function in hematopoietic lineages. We now know that Gfi1 is primarily important in myeloid and lymphoid differentiation, whereas Gfi1b is crucial for the generation of red blood cells and platelets. Several rare hematologic diseases are associated with acquired or inheritable mutations in the GFI1 and GFI1B genes. Certain patients with severe congenital neutropenia carry mutations in the GFI1 gene that lead to the disruption of the C-terminal zinc finger domains. Other mutations have been found in the GFI1B gene in families with inherited bleeding disorders. In addition, the Gfi1 locus is frequently found to be a proviral integration site in retrovirus-induced lymphomagenesis, and new, emerging data suggest a role of Gfi1 in human leukemia and lymphoma, underlining the role of both factors not only in normal hematopoiesis, but also in a wide spectrum of human blood diseases.

Zhang Q, Qin J, Zhong L, et al.
CCL5-Mediated Th2 Immune Polarization Promotes Metastasis in Luminal Breast Cancer.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(20):4312-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
The tumor-promoting chemokine CCL5 has been implicated in malignant transformation of breast epithelial cells, with studies to date focusing mainly on basal-type breast cancers. In this study, we investigated the consequences of CCL5 deletion in the MMTV-PyMT transgenic mouse model of luminal breast cancer. In this model, primary tumor burden and pulmonary metastases were reduced significantly in CCL5-deficient subjects, an effect found to be associated with a deficit of Th2 (IL4⁺CD4⁺ T) cells. Mechanistic investigations revealed that CCL5 activates CCR3, a highly expressed chemokine receptor on CD4⁺ T cells, and also boosts Gfi1 expression to promote the differentiation of Th2 cells, which enhance the prometastatic activity of tumor-associated myeloid cells. Clinically, polarization toward this immunosuppressive Th2 phenotype was also evident in patients with advanced luminal breast cancer. Thus, our findings showed that CCL5/CCR3 signaling promotes metastasis by inducing Th2 polarization of CD4⁺ T cells, with implications for prognosis and immunotherapy of luminal breast cancer.

Wang C, Yun Z, Zhao T, et al.
MiR-495 is a Predictive Biomarker that Downregulates GFI1 Expression in Medulloblastoma.
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2015; 36(4):1430-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Alterations in the expression level of miR-495 were recently observed in various tumours. Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumour in children. However, the clinical significance of miR-495 in medulloblastomas remains unclear.
METHODS: The expression levels of miR-495 was examined in 62 archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) medulloblastoma specimens using TaqMan Real-time Quantitative PCR arrays. Immunohistochemistry was used to determine the expression of Gfi1 in medulloblastoma tissues, and a luciferase reporter assay was carried out to confirm whether Gfi1 is a direct target of miR-495.
RESULTS: MiR-495 expression is repressed in medulloblastoma samples compared with normal cerebellum tissues. Furthermore, patients with a low level of miR- 495 showed significantly poorer survival, as determined by the log-rank test (P = 0.033). The multivariate analysis results showed that the miR-495 expression levels were an independent predictor of overall survival in medulloblastoma patients (P = 0.027; hazard ratio = 0.267). Our study provides the first demonstration that miR-495 directly interacts with the Gfi1 3’UTR to regulate Gfi1 at a post-transcriptional level and that the expression level of miR-495 is inversely correlated with the Gfi1 protein level in medulloblastoma specimens.
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that miR-495 may be a prognostic predictor in medulloblastoma and that Gfi1 is a potential functional target of miR-495.

Bachas C, Schuurhuis GJ, Zwaan CM, et al.
Gene expression profiles associated with pediatric relapsed AML.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(4):e0121730 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Development of relapse remains a problem for further improvements in the survival of pediatric AML patients. While virtually all patients show a good response to initial treatment, more patients respond poorly when treated at relapse. The cellular characteristics of leukemic blast cells that allow survival of initial treatment, relapse development and subsequent resistance to salvage treatment remain largely elusive. Therefore, we studied if leukemic blasts at relapse biologically resemble their initial diagnosis counterparts. We performed microarray gene expression profiling on paired initial and relapse samples of 23 pediatric AML patients. In 11 out of 23 patients, gene expression profiles of initial and corresponding relapse samples end up in different clusters in unsupervised analysis, indicating altered gene expression profiles. In addition, shifts in type I/II mutational status were found in 5 of these 11 patients, while shifts were found in 3 of the remaining 12 patients. Although differentially expressed genes varied between patients, they were commonly related to hematopoietic differentiation, encompassed genes involved in chromatin remodeling and showed associations with similar transcription factors. The top five were CEBPA, GFI1, SATB1, KLF2 and TBP. In conclusion, the leukemic blasts at relapse are biologically different from their diagnosis counterparts. These differences may be exploited for further development of novel treatment strategies.

Friedman AD
C/EBPα in normal and malignant myelopoiesis.
Int J Hematol. 2015; 101(4):330-41 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
CCAAT/enhancer binding protein α (C/EBPα) dimerizes via its leucine zipper (LZ) domain to bind DNA via its basic region and activate transcription via N-terminal trans-activation domains. The activity of C/EBPα is modulated by several serine/threonine kinases and via sumoylation, its gene is activated by RUNX1 and additional transcription factors, its mRNA stability is modified by miRNAs, and its mRNA is subject to translation control that affects AUG selection. In addition to inducing differentiation, C/EBPα inhibits cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Within hematopoiesis, C/EBPα levels increase as long-term stem cells progress to granulocyte-monocyte progenitors (GMP). Absence of C/EBPα prevents GMP formation, and higher levels are required for granulopoiesis compared to monopoiesis. C/EBPα interacts with AP-1 proteins to bind hybrid DNA elements during monopoiesis, and induction of Gfi-1, C/EBPε, KLF5, and miR-223 by C/EBPα enables granulopoiesis. The CEBPA ORF is mutated in approximately 10 % of acute myeloid leukemias (AML), leading to expression of N-terminally truncated C/EBPαp30 and C-terminal, in-frame C/EBPαLZ variants, which inhibit C/EBPα activities but also play additional roles during myeloid transformation. RUNX1 mutation, CEBPA promoter methylation, Trib1 or Trib2-mediated C/EBPαp42 degradation, and signaling pathways leading to C/EBPα serine 21 phosphorylation reduce C/EBPα expression or activity in additional AML cases.

Kim JS, Kim SY, Lee M, et al.
Radioresistance in a human laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma cell line is associated with DNA methylation changes and topoisomerase II α.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2015; 16(4):558-66 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Accumulating evidence suggests that changes in methylation patterns may help mediate the sensitivity or resistance of cancer cells to ionizing radiation. The present study provides evidence for the involvement of radioresistance-induced DNA methylation changes in tumor radioresistance. We established radioresistant laryngeal cancer cells via long-term fractionated irradiation, and examined differences in DNA methylation between control and radioresistant laryngeal cancer cells. Interestingly, we found that the promoter-CpG islands of 5 previously identified radioresistance-related genes (TOPO2A, PLXDC2, ETNK2, GFI1, and IL12B) were significantly altered in the radioresistant laryngeal cancer cells. Furthermore, the demethylation of these gene promoters with a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor (5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine) increased their transcription levels. Treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine also sensitized the radioresistant laryngeal cancer cells to irradiation, indicating that changes in DNA methylation contributed to their radioresistance. Of the tested genes, the expression and activity levels of TOPO2A were tightly associated with the radioresistant phenotype in our system, suggesting that the hypermethylation of TOPO2A might be involved in this radioresistance. Collectively, our data suggest that radiation-induced epigenetic changes can modulate the radioresistance of laryngeal cancer cells, and thus may prove useful as prognostic indicators for radiotherapy.

Lebel A, Yacobovich J, Krasnov T, et al.
Genetic analysis and clinical picture of severe congenital neutropenia in Israel.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015; 62(1):103-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The relative frequency of mutated genes among patients with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN) may differ between various ethnic groups. To date, few population-based genetic studies have been reported. This study describes the genetic analysis of 32 Israeli patients with SCN.
PROCEDURES: Clinical data were retrieved from the prospective Israeli Inherited Bone Marrow Failure Registry. Recruitment included living and deceased patients who were diagnosed between 1982 and 2012, for whom molecular diagnosis was performed. ELANE, HAX1 and G6PC3 genes were sequenced in all patients, and GFI-1 and WAS genes were sequenced if other genes were wildtype.
RESULTS: Eleven patients (34%) had heterozygous mutations in ELANE (10 kindreds), eight (25%) had homozygous mutations in G6PC3 (5 kindreds) and 13 (41%) had no detected mutations. No patients had mutations in HAX1 or WAS. Four of the eight patients with G6PC3 mutations had congenital anomalies. The probability of survival for all patients was 50% at age of 18. Deaths were mainly due to sepsis (5 patients, 4/5 not responding to G-CSF, none with G6PC3 mutation). Two patients developed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and one myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), none with G6PC3 mutation.
CONCLUSIONS: We found a unique pattern of SCN mutations in Israel with homozygous G6PC3 mutations in eight (25%) patients, the highest frequency described so far. HAX1 mutations, reported mainly in Sweden and Iran, were absent. Patients with G6PC3 mutations had congenital anomalies, appeared to have a better response to G-CSF, and so far have not developed AML or MDS.

Chen J, Weiss WA
When deletions gain functions: commandeering epigenetic mechanisms.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 26(2):160-1 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recurrent chromosomal deletions in cancer are typically thought to harbor tumor suppressors. In a recent publication in Nature, Northcott and colleagues identify a novel region of structural variation in medulloblastoma that leads to oncogenic activation of GFI1B and GFI1 by repositioning these genes next to super-enhancers.

Inoue T, Swain A, Nakanishi Y, Sugiyama D
Multicolor analysis of cell surface marker of human leukemia cell lines using flow cytometry.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(8):4539-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Leukemia cell lines are utilized as tools for molecular analysis. Their implementation in therapy will require standards for quality control, including appropriate selection criteria for functional analysis and efficacy determination.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Characteristics of six human leukemia cell lines -Kasumi-1, NB-4, MOLM-13, MV-4-11, K562, and Jurkat cells-were investigated using multiple color analysis of surface antigen expression and comparative analysis of gene expression.
RESULTS: Differentiation states of Kasumi-1 and MOLM-13 cells are colony-forming units-granulocyte/macrophage equivalent cells to myeloblasts with comparatively high Growth factor independent-1(GFI1) and Transcription factor PU.1 (PU.1) expression, respectively. NB4 and MV-4-11 express high levels of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-alpha (CEBPα) and differentiate from myeloblasts to pro-monocytes and myeloblasts, respectively. K562 cells are colony-forming units-erythroid equivalent cells to erythroblasts, with the highest expression of GATA-binding factor 2 (GATA2), GATA1 and Friend of gata-1 (FOG1). Jurkat cells are pro-T to mature T-cells with the highest Neurogenic locus notch-1 homolog protein 1 (NOTCH1) expression.
CONCLUSION: Our study gives a useful guideline of standards for appropriate usage of leukemia cell lines for examining novel targets in vitro.

Northcott PA, Lee C, Zichner T, et al.
Enhancer hijacking activates GFI1 family oncogenes in medulloblastoma.
Nature. 2014; 511(7510):428-34 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Medulloblastoma is a highly malignant paediatric brain tumour currently treated with a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, posing a considerable burden of toxicity to the developing child. Genomics has illuminated the extensive intertumoral heterogeneity of medulloblastoma, identifying four distinct molecular subgroups. Group 3 and group 4 subgroup medulloblastomas account for most paediatric cases; yet, oncogenic drivers for these subtypes remain largely unidentified. Here we describe a series of prevalent, highly disparate genomic structural variants, restricted to groups 3 and 4, resulting in specific and mutually exclusive activation of the growth factor independent 1 family proto-oncogenes, GFI1 and GFI1B. Somatic structural variants juxtapose GFI1 or GFI1B coding sequences proximal to active enhancer elements, including super-enhancers, instigating oncogenic activity. Our results, supported by evidence from mouse models, identify GFI1 and GFI1B as prominent medulloblastoma oncogenes and implicate 'enhancer hijacking' as an efficient mechanism driving oncogene activation in a childhood cancer.

Huser CA, Gilroy KL, de Ridder J, et al.
Insertional mutagenesis and deep profiling reveals gene hierarchies and a Myc/p53-dependent bottleneck in lymphomagenesis.
PLoS Genet. 2014; 10(2):e1004167 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Retroviral insertional mutagenesis (RIM) is a powerful tool for cancer genomics that was combined in this study with deep sequencing (RIM/DS) to facilitate a comprehensive analysis of lymphoma progression. Transgenic mice expressing two potent collaborating oncogenes in the germ line (CD2-MYC, -Runx2) develop rapid onset tumours that can be accelerated and rendered polyclonal by neonatal Moloney murine leukaemia virus (MoMLV) infection. RIM/DS analysis of 28 polyclonal lymphomas identified 771 common insertion sites (CISs) defining a 'progression network' that encompassed a remarkably large fraction of known MoMLV target genes, with further strong indications of oncogenic selection above the background of MoMLV integration preference. Progression driven by RIM was characterised as a Darwinian process of clonal competition engaging proliferation control networks downstream of cytokine and T-cell receptor signalling. Enhancer mode activation accounted for the most efficiently selected CIS target genes, including Ccr7 as the most prominent of a set of chemokine receptors driving paracrine growth stimulation and lymphoma dissemination. Another large target gene subset including candidate tumour suppressors was disrupted by intragenic insertions. A second RIM/DS screen comparing lymphomas of wild-type and parental transgenics showed that CD2-MYC tumours are virtually dependent on activation of Runx family genes in strong preference to other potent Myc collaborating genes (Gfi1, Notch1). Ikzf1 was identified as a novel collaborating gene for Runx2 and illustrated the interface between integration preference and oncogenic selection. Lymphoma target genes for MoMLV can be classified into (a) a small set of master regulators that confer self-renewal; overcoming p53 and other failsafe pathways and (b) a large group of progression genes that control autonomous proliferation in transformed cells. These findings provide insights into retroviral biology, human cancer genetics and the safety of vector-mediated gene therapy.

Velu CS, Chaubey A, Phelan JD, et al.
Therapeutic antagonists of microRNAs deplete leukemia-initiating cell activity.
J Clin Invest. 2014; 124(1):222-36 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) subtypes that result from oncogenic activation of homeobox (HOX) transcription factors are associated with poor prognosis. The HOXA9 transcription activator and growth factor independent 1 (GFI1) transcriptional repressor compete for occupancy at DNA-binding sites for the regulation of common target genes. We exploited this HOXA9 versus GFI1 antagonism to identify the genes encoding microRNA-21 and microRNA-196b as transcriptional targets of HOX-based leukemia oncoproteins. Therapeutic inhibition of microRNA-21 and microRNA-196b inhibited in vitro leukemic colony forming activity and depleted in vivo leukemia-initiating cell activity of HOX-based leukemias, which led to leukemia-free survival in a murine AML model and delayed disease onset in xenograft models. These data establish microRNA as functional effectors of endogenous HOXA9 and HOX-based leukemia oncoproteins, provide a concise in vivo platform to test RNA therapeutics, and suggest therapeutic value for microRNA antagonists in AML.

Purizaca J, Contreras-Quiroz A, Dorantes-Acosta E, et al.
Lymphoid progenitor cells from childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia are functionally deficient and express high levels of the transcriptional repressor Gfi-1.
Clin Dev Immunol. 2013; 2013:349067 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most frequent malignancy of childhood. Substantial progress on understanding the cell hierarchy within ALL bone marrow (BM) has been recorded in the last few years, suggesting that both primitive cell fractions and committed lymphoid blasts with immature stem cell-like properties contain leukemia-initiating cells. Nevertheless, the biology of the early progenitors that initiate the lymphoid program remains elusive. The aim of the present study was to investigate the ability of lymphoid progenitors from B-cell precursor ALL BM to proliferate and undergo multilineage differentiation. By phenotype analyses, in vitro proliferation assays, and controlled culture systems, the lymphoid differentiation potentials were evaluated in BM primitive populations from B-cell precursor ALL pediatric patients. When compared to their normal counterparts, functional stem and progenitor cell contents were substantially reduced in ALL BM. Moreover, neither B nor NK or dendritic lymphoid-cell populations developed recurrently from highly purified ALL-lymphoid progenitors, and their proliferation and cell cycle status revealed limited proliferative capacity. Interestingly, a number of quiescence-associated transcription factors were elevated, including the transcriptional repressor Gfi-1, which was highly expressed in primitive CD34⁺ cells. Together, our findings reveal major functional defects in the primitive hematopoietic component of ALL BM. A possible contribution of high levels of Gfi-1 expression in the regulation of the stem/progenitor cell biology is suggested.

Zhao L, Ye P, Gonda TJ
The MYB proto-oncogene suppresses monocytic differentiation of acute myeloid leukemia cells via transcriptional activation of its target gene GFI1.
Oncogene. 2014; 33(35):4442-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The MYB gene is a master regulator of hematopoiesis and contributes to leukemogenesis in several species including humans. Although it is clear that MYB can promote proliferation, suppress apoptosis and block differentiation, the identities of the MYB target genes that mediate these effects have only been partially elucidated. Several studies, including our own, have collectively identified substantial numbers of MYB target genes, including candidates for each of these activities; however, functional validation, particularly in the case of differentiation suppression, has lagged well behind. Here we show that GFI1, which encodes an important regulator of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function and granulocytic differentiation, is a direct target of MYB in myeloid leukemia cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and reporter studies identified a functional MYB-binding site in the promoter region of GFI, whereas ectopic expression and small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of MYB resulted in concomitant increases and decreases, respectively, in GFI1 expression. We also demonstrate that GFI1, like MYB, can block the induced monocytic differentiation of a human acute myeloid leukemia cell line, and most importantly, that GFI1 is essential for MYB's ability to block monocytic differentiation. Thus, we have identified a target of MYB that is a likely mediator of its myeloid differentiation-blocking activity, and which may also be involved in MYB's activities in regulating normal HSC function and myeloid differentiation.

Lee MC, Kuo YY, Chou WC, et al.
Gfi-1 is the transcriptional repressor of SOCS1 in acute myeloid leukemia cells.
J Leukoc Biol. 2014; 95(1):105-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
Silencing of SOCS1, a TSG, has been detected in various malignancies, including AML. However, the underlying mechanism of SOCS1 inactivation remains elusive. In this study, we explored the role of histone methylation in SOCS1 expression in AML cells. By ChIP assay, we demonstrated that G9a and SUV39H1, two enzymes catalyzing H3K9 methylation, were physically associated with the SOCS1 promoter, and treatment with chaetocin, a histone methyltransferase inhibitor, suppressed H3K9 methylation on the SOCS1 promoter and enhanced SOCS1 expression. Furthermore, knockdown of G9a and SUV39H1 by siRNA could also induce SOCS1 expression. On the other hand, SOCS1 knockdown by shRNA eliminated chaetocin-induced cell apoptosis. To investigate further whether any transcription factor was involved in H3K9 methylation-related SOCS1 repression, we scanned the sequences of the SOCS1 gene promoter and found two binding sites for Gfi-1, a transcription repressor. By DNA pull-down and ChIP assays, we showed that Gfi-1 directly bound the SOCS1 promoter, and ectopic Gfi-1 expression suppressed STAT5-induced SOCS1 promoter activation. In contrast, Gfi-1 knockdown by shRNA enhanced SOCS1 expression and inhibited STAT5 expression. Moreover, the knockdown of G9a completely rescued the repressive effect of Gfi-1 on STAT5A-induced SOCS1 promoter activation. Collectively, our study indicates that the expression of Gfi-1 contributes to SOCS1 silencing in AML cells through epigenetic modification, and suppression of histone methyltransferase can provide new insight in AML therapy.

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