Gene Summary

Gene:MEF2C; myocyte enhancer factor 2C
Aliases: DEL5q14.3, C5DELq14.3
Summary:This locus encodes a member of the MADS box transcription enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) family of proteins, which play a role in myogenesis. The encoded protein, MEF2 polypeptide C, has both trans-activating and DNA binding activities. This protein may play a role in maintaining the differentiated state of muscle cells. Mutations and deletions at this locus have been associated with severe cognitive disability, stereotypic movements, epilepsy, and cerebral malformation. Alternatively spliced transcript variants have been described. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2010]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2C
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (119)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (4)

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.

  • ras Proteins
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Promoter Regions
  • Up-Regulation
  • Proteomics
  • Soft Tissue Cancers
  • Leukemic Gene Expression Regulation
  • Skin
  • Infant
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Cell Movement
  • Liver Cancer
  • Precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • World Health Organization
  • Chromosome 5
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Signal Transduction
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Breast Cancer
  • MicroRNAs
  • MEF2 Transcription Factors
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Myogenic Regulatory Factors
  • Leukaemia
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Adolescents
  • YY1 Transcription Factor
  • Mutation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MADS Domain Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia
  • p300-CBP Transcription Factors
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transduction
  • Transcription
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

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

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

Latest Publications: MEF2C (cancer-related)

Freire PP, Fernandez GJ, Cury SS, et al.
The Pathway to Cancer Cachexia: MicroRNA-Regulated Networks in Muscle Wasting Based on Integrative Meta-Analysis.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019; 20(8) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cancer cachexia is a multifactorial syndrome that leads to significant weight loss. Cachexia affects 50%-80% of cancer patients, depending on the tumor type, and is associated with 20%-40% of cancer patient deaths. Besides the efforts to identify molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle atrophy-a key feature in cancer cachexia-no effective therapy for the syndrome is currently available. MicroRNAs are regulators of gene expression, with therapeutic potential in several muscle wasting disorders. We performed a meta-analysis of previously published gene expression data to reveal new potential microRNA-mRNA networks associated with muscle atrophy in cancer cachexia. We retrieved 52 differentially expressed genes in nine studies of muscle tissue from patients and rodent models of cancer cachexia. Next, we predicted microRNAs targeting these differentially expressed genes. We also include global microRNA expression data surveyed in atrophying skeletal muscles from previous studies as background information. We identified deregulated genes involved in the regulation of apoptosis, muscle hypertrophy, catabolism, and acute phase response. We further predicted new microRNA-mRNA interactions, such as miR-27a/

Vega-García N, Malatesta R, Estella C, et al.
Paediatric patients with acute leukaemia and KMT2A (MLL) rearrangement show a distinctive expression pattern of histone deacetylases.
Br J Haematol. 2018; 182(4):542-553 [PubMed] Related Publications
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) had emerged as promising drugs in leukaemia, but their toxicity due to lack of specificity limited their use. Therefore, there is a need to elucidate the role of HDACs in specific settings. The study of HDAC expression in childhood leukaemia could help to choose more specific HDACi for selected candidates in a personalized approach. We analysed HDAC1-11, SIRT1, SIRT7, MEF2C and MEF2D mRNA expression in 211 paediatric patients diagnosed with acute leukaemia. There was a global overexpression of HDACs, while specific HDACs correlated with clinical and biological features, and some even predicted outcome. Thus, some HDAC and MEF2C profiles probably reflected the lineage and the maturation of the blasts and some profiles identified specific oncogenic pathways active in the leukaemic cells. Specifically, we identified a distinctive signature for patients with KMT2A (MLL) rearrangement, with high HDAC9 and MEF2D expression, regardless of age, KMT2A partner and lineage. Moreover, we observed an adverse prognostic value of HDAC9 overexpression, regardless of KMT2A rearrangement. Our results provide useful knowledge on the complex picture of HDAC expression in childhood leukaemia and support the directed use of specific HDACi to selected paediatric patients with acute leukaemia.

Lee SR, Choi YD, Cho NH
Association between pathologic factors and ERG expression in prostate cancer: finding pivotal networking.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2018; 144(9):1665-1683 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To evaluate associations between pathologic factors and erythroblast transformation-specific (ETS)-related gene (ERG) expression in prostate cancer patients. Using next-generation sequencing, we identified target genes and regulatory networks.
METHODS: ERG expression in 60 radical prostatectomies was compared with pathological findings by association rule mining with the Apriori algorithm. Whole-exome and RNA sequencing were performed on three formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded ERG-positive and negative prostate cancer samples. A network diagram identifying dominant altered genes was constructed using Cytoscape open-source bioinformatics platform and GeneMania plugin.
RESULTS: Pathologic conditions positive for perineural invasion, apical margins, and Gleason score 3 + 4 = 7 were significantly more likely to be ERG-positive than other pathologic conditions (p = 0.0008), suggesting an association between ERG positivity, perineural invasion, apical margins, and Gleason score 3 + 4 = 7 (Firth's logistic regression: OR 42.565, 95% CI 1.670-1084.847, p = 0.0232). Results of whole-exome and RNA sequencing identified 97 somatic mutations containing common mutated genes. Regulatory network analysis identified NOTCH1, MEF2C, STAT3, LCK, CACNA2D3, PCSK7, MEF2A, PDZD2, TAB1, and ASGR1 as pivotal genes. NOTCH1 appears to function as a hub, because it had the highest node degree and betweenness. NOTCH1 staining was found 8 of 60 specimens (13%), with a significant association between ERG and NOTCH1 positivity (p = 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Evaluating the association between ERG expression and pathologic factors, and identifying the regulatory network and pivotal hub may help to understand the clinical significance of ERG-positive prostate cancer.

Zhang H, Liu W, Wang Z, et al.
MEF2C promotes gefitinib resistance in hepatic cancer cells through regulating MIG6 transcription.
Tumori. 2018; 104(3):221-231 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Mitogen-inducible gene 6 ( MIG6) holds a special position in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) resistance. As MIG6 regulates the activity of EGFR signal pathway negatively, high level of MIG6 can increase the EGFR TKI resistance of cancer cells, and limit the therapeutic action of EGFR TKI, such as gefitinib or erlotinib. Therefore, better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of EGFR TKI resistance holds great value in cancer therapy.
METHODS: In our study, we mainly explored the function of transcription activator, myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C), on MIG6 expression as well as gefitinib-resistant ability of hepatic cancer cells.
RESULTS: Our results indicated that both MEF2C and MIG6 could be upregulated in gefitinib-resistant cancer tissues and cancer cell lines compared with gefitinib-sensitive ones. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay and dual luciferase assay showed that MEF2C could bind to the MEF2C element in the promoter sequence of MIG6 and promote the transcription of MIG6. This effect increased the gefitinib-resistant ability of cancer cells. Therefore, MEF2C knockdown inhibited the gefitinib resistance and limited the proliferation of hepatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, while overexpression of MEF2C showed opposite effect on cancer cell proliferation.
CONCLUSION: Our study provides novel insight into the regulation mechanism of MIG6 and suggests potential implications for the therapeutic strategies of gefitinib resistance through inhibiting MEF2C in hepatic cancer cells.

Lauber C, Klink B, Seifert M
Comparative analysis of histologically classified oligodendrogliomas reveals characteristic molecular differences between subgroups.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):399 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Molecular data of histologically classified oligodendrogliomas are available offering the possibility to stratify these human brain tumors into clinically relevant molecular subtypes.
METHODS: Gene copy number, mutation, and expression data of 193 histologically classified oligodendrogliomas from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) were analyzed by well-established computational approaches (unsupervised clustering, statistical testing, network inference).
RESULTS: We applied hierarchical clustering to tumor gene copy number profiles and revealed three molecular subgroups within histologically classified oligodendrogliomas. We further screened these subgroups for molecular glioma markers (1p/19q co-deletion, IDH mutation, gain of chromosome 7 and loss of chromosome 10) and found that our subgroups largely resemble known molecular glioma subtypes. We excluded glioblastoma-like tumors (7a10d subgroup) and derived a gene expression signature distinguishing histologically classified oligodendrogliomas with concurrent 1p/19q co-deletion and IDH mutation (1p/19q subgroup) from those with predominant IDH mutation alone (IDHme subgroup). Interestingly, many signature genes were part of signaling pathways involved in the regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and cell-cell contacts. We further learned a gene regulatory network associated with the gene expression signature revealing novel putative major regulators with functions in cytoskeleton remodeling (e.g. APBB1IP, VAV1, ARPC1B), apoptosis (CCNL2, CREB3L1), and neural development (e.g. MYTIL, SCRT1, MEF2C) potentially contributing to the manifestation of differences between both subgroups. Moreover, we revealed characteristic expression differences of several HOX and SOX transcription factors suggesting the activity of different glioma stemness programs in both subgroups.
CONCLUSIONS: We show that gene copy number profiles alone are sufficient to derive molecular subgroups of histologically classified oligodendrogliomas that are well-embedded into general glioma classification schemes. Moreover, our revealed novel putative major regulators and characteristic stemness signatures indicate that different developmental programs might be active in these subgroups, providing a basis for future studies.

Tarumoto Y, Lu B, Somerville TDD, et al.
LKB1, Salt-Inducible Kinases, and MEF2C Are Linked Dependencies in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Mol Cell. 2018; 69(6):1017-1027.e6 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The lineage-specific transcription factor (TF) MEF2C is often deregulated in leukemia. However, strategies to target this TF have yet to be identified. Here, we used a domain-focused CRISPR screen to reveal an essential role for LKB1 and its Salt-Inducible Kinase effectors (SIK3, in a partially redundant manner with SIK2) to maintain MEF2C function in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A key phosphorylation substrate of SIK3 in this context is HDAC4, a repressive cofactor of MEF2C. Consequently, targeting of LKB1 or SIK3 diminishes histone acetylation at MEF2C-bound enhancers and deprives leukemia cells of the output of this essential TF. We also found that MEF2C-dependent leukemias are sensitive to on-target chemical inhibition of SIK activity. This study reveals a chemical strategy to block MEF2C function in AML, highlighting how an oncogenic TF can be disabled by targeting of upstream kinases.

Brown FC, Still E, Koche RP, et al.
MEF2C Phosphorylation Is Required for Chemotherapy Resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Cancer Discov. 2018; 8(4):478-497 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chemotherapy resistance remains prevalent and poorly understood. Using functional proteomics of patient AML specimens, we identified MEF2C S222 phosphorylation as a specific marker of primary chemoresistance. We found that

Khachigian LM
The Yin and Yang of YY1 in tumor growth and suppression.
Int J Cancer. 2018; 143(3):460-465 [PubMed] Related Publications
Yin Yang-1 (YY1) is a zinc finger protein and member of the GLI-Kruppel family that can activate or inactivate gene expression depending on interacting partners, promoter context and chromatin structure, and may be involved in the transcriptional control of ∼10% of the total mammalian gene set. A growing body of literature indicates that YY1 is overexpressed in multiple cancer types and that increased YY1 levels correlate with poor clinical outcomes in many cancers. However, the role of YY1 in the promotion or suppression of tumor growth remains controversial and its regulatory effects may be tumor cell type dependent at least in experimental systems. The molecular mechanisms responsible for the apparently conflicting roles of YY1 are not yet fully elucidated. This review highlights recent advances in our understanding of regulatory insights involving YY1 function in a range of cancer types. For example, YY1's roles in tumor growth involve stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor HIF-1α in a p53 independent manner, negative regulation of miR-9 transcription, control of MYCT1 transcription, a novel miR-193a-5p-YY1-APC axis, intracellular ROS and mitochondrial superoxide generation, p53 reduction and EGFR activation, control of genes associated with mitochondrial energy metabolism and miRNA regulatory networks involving miR-7, miR-9, miR-34a, miR-186, miR-381, miR-584-3p and miR-635. On the other hand, tumor suppressor roles of YY1 appear to involve YY1 stimulation of tumor suppressor BRCA1, increased Bax transcription and apoptosis involving cytochrome c release and caspase-3/-7 cleavage, induction of heme oxygenase-1, inhibition of pRb phosphorylation and p21 binding to cyclin D1 and cdk4, reduced expression of long noncoding RNA of SOX2 overlapping transcript, and MUC4/ErbB2/p38/MEF2C-dependent downregulation of MMP-10. YY1 expression is associated with that of cancer stem cell markers SOX2, BMI1 and OCT4 across many cancers suggesting multidynamic regulatory control and groups of cancers with distinct molecular signatures. Greater understanding of the mechanistic roles of YY1 will in turn lead to the development of more specific approaches to modulate YY1 expression and activity with therapeutic potential.

Xiu Y, Dong Q, Li Q, et al.
Stabilization of NF-κB-Inducing Kinase Suppresses MLL-AF9-Induced Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Cell Rep. 2018; 22(2):350-358 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Canonical NF-κB signaling is constitutively activated in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stem cells and is required for maintenance of the self-renewal of leukemia stem cells (LSCs). However, any potential role for NF-κB non-canonical signaling in AML has been largely overlooked. Here, we report that stabilization of NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) suppresses AML. Mechanistically, stabilization of NIK activates NF-κB non-canonical signaling and represses NF-κB canonical signaling. In addition, stabilization of NIK-induced activation of NF-κB non-canonical signaling upregulates Dnmt3a and downregulates Mef2c, which suppresses and promotes AML development, respectively. Importantly, by querying the connectivity MAP using up- and downregulated genes that are present exclusively in NIK-stabilized LSCs, we discovered that verteporfin has anti-AML effects, suggesting that repurposing verteporfin to target myeloid leukemia is worth testing clinically. Our data provide a scientific rationale for developing small molecules to stabilize NIK specifically in myeloid leukemias as an attractive therapeutic option.

Chen B, Jiang L, Zhong ML, et al.
Identification of fusion genes and characterization of transcriptome features in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018; 115(2):373-378 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a clonal malignancy of immature T cells. Recently, the next-generation sequencing approach has allowed systematic identification of molecular features in pediatric T-ALL. Here, by performing RNA-sequencing and other genomewide analysis, we investigated the genomic landscape in 61 adult and 69 pediatric T-ALL cases. Thirty-six distinct gene fusion transcripts were identified, with

Bagla S, Cukovic D, Asano E, et al.
A distinct microRNA expression profile is associated with α[
Neurobiol Dis. 2018; 109(Pt A):76-87 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is characterized by hamartomatous lesions in various organs and arises due to mutations in the TSC1 or TSC2 genes. TSC mutations lead to a range of neurological manifestations including epilepsy, cognitive impairment, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and brain lesions that include cortical tubers. There is evidence that seizures arise at or near cortical tubers, but it is unknown why some tubers are epileptogenic while others are not. We have previously reported increased tryptophan metabolism measured with α[

Colomer-Lahiguera S, Pisecker M, König M, et al.
MEF2C-dysregulated pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is associated with CDKN1B deletions and a poor response to glucocorticoid therapy.
Leuk Lymphoma. 2017; 58(12):2895-2904 [PubMed] Related Publications
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematological disease in which multiple genetic abnormalities cooperate in the malignant transformation of T-lymphoid progenitors. Although in pediatric T-ALL, CDKN1B deletions occur in about 12% of the cases and represent one of the most frequent copy number alterations, neither their association with other genetic alterations nor the clinical characteristics of these patients have been determined yet. In this study, we show that loss of CDKN1B increased the prevalence of cell cycle regulator defects in immature T-ALL, usually only ascribed to CDKN2A/B deletions, and that CDKN1B deletions frequently coincide with expression of MEF2C, considered as one of the driving oncogenes in immature early T-cell precursor (ETP) ALL. However, MEF2C-dysregulation was only partially associated with the immunophenotypic characteristics used to define ETP-ALL. Furthermore, MEF2C expression levels were significantly associated with or may even be predictive of the response to glucocorticoid treatment.

Peruzzo P, Comelli M, Di Giorgio E, et al.
Transformation by different oncogenes relies on specific metabolic adaptations.
Cell Cycle. 2016; 15(19):2656-2668 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metabolic adaptations are emerging as common traits of cancer cells and tumor progression. In vitro transformation of NIH 3T3 cells allows the analysis of the metabolic changes triggered by a single oncogene. In this work, we have compared the metabolic changes induced by H-RAS and by the nuclear resident mutant of histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4). RAS-transformed cells exhibit a dominant aerobic glycolytic phenotype characterized by up-regulation of glycolytic enzymes, reduced oxygen consumption and a defect in complex I activity. In this model of transformation, glycolysis is strictly required for sustaining the ATP levels and the robust cellular proliferation. By contrast, in HDAC4/TM transformed cells, glycolysis is only modestly up-regulated, lactate secretion is not augmented and, instead, mitochondrial oxygen consumption is increased. Our results demonstrate that cellular transformation can be accomplished through different metabolic adaptations and HDAC4/TM cells can represent a useful model to investigate oncogene-driven metabolic changes besides the Warburg effect.

Nagel S, Pommerenke C, Meyer C, et al.
Deregulation of polycomb repressor complex 1 modifier AUTS2 in T-cell leukemia.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(29):45398-45413 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recently, we identified deregulated expression of the B-cell specific transcription factor MEF2C in T-cell acute lymphoid leukemia (T-ALL). Here, we performed sequence analysis of a regulatory upstream section of MEF2C in T-ALL cell lines which, however, proved devoid of mutations. Unexpectedly, we found strong conservation between the regulatory upstream region of MEF2C (located at chromosomal band 5q14) and an intergenic stretch at 7q11 located between STAG3L4 and AUTS2, covering nearly 20 kb. While the non-coding gene STAG3L4 was inconspicuously expressed, AUTS2 was aberrantly upregulated in 6% of T-ALL patients (public dataset GSE42038) and in 3/24 T-ALL cell lines, two of which represented very immature differentiation stages. AUTS2 expression was higher in normal B-cells than in T-cells, indicating lineage-specific activity in lymphopoiesis. While excluding chromosomal aberrations, examinations of AUTS2 transcriptional regulation in T-ALL cells revealed activation by IL7-IL7R-STAT5-signalling and MEF2C. AUTS2 protein has been shown to interact with polycomb repressor complex 1 subtype 5 (PRC1.5), transforming this particular complex into an activator. Accordingly, expression profiling and functional analyses demonstrated that AUTS2 activated while PCGF5 repressed transcription of NKL homeobox gene MSX1 in T-ALL cells. Forced expression and pharmacological inhibition of EZH2 in addition to H3K27me3 analysis indicated that PRC2 repressed MSX1 as well. Taken together, we found that AUTS2 and MEF2C, despite lying on different chromosomes, share strikingly similar regulatory upstream regions and aberrant expression in T-ALL subsets. Our data implicate chromatin complexes PRC1/AUTS2 and PRC2 in a gene network in T-ALL regulating early lymphoid differentiation.

Agatheeswaran S, Chakraborty S
MEF2C and CEBPA: Possible co-regulators in chronic myeloid leukemia disease progression.
Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2016; 77(Pt A):165-170 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a hematopoietic malignancy, characterized initially by a chronic phase (CP) progresses into blast crisis (BC) with the accumulation of secondary abnormalities. We have reported earlier that MEF2C, a target of miR-223, was significantly up regulated in CML and also showed a negative correlation with miR-223. In this study, gene expression arrays were used to identify the genes regulated by MEF2C during myelopoiesis. Statistical tools were used to understand the correlation between MEF2C and the targets in different phases of CML. Different CML cell lines and CML patient samples were treated with imatinib to study the effect of MEF2C on the target genes. We observed that MEF2C targets a set of myeloid genes including the myeloid transcription factor CEBPA. MEF2C and CEBPA expression patterns are negatively correlated in CML patient samples. We further show that the expression of MEF2C and CEBPA along with CSF3R is sufficient to molecularly classify different stages of CML. Imatinib, the drug of choice for CML, abrogates MEF2C expression and reverses CEBPA repression both in the cell line and the primary cells. We report the existence of a MEF2C and CEBPA correlation in CML disease progression.

Zhou S, Fatima S, Ma Z, et al.
Evaluating the Safety of Retroviral Vectors Based on Insertional Oncogene Activation and Blocked Differentiation in Cultured Thymocytes.
Mol Ther. 2016; 24(6):1090-1099 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Insertional oncogenesis due to retroviral (RV) vector integration has caused recurrent leukemia in multiple gene therapy trials, predominantly due to vector integration effects at the LMO2 locus. While currently available preclinical safety models have been used for evaluating vector safety, none have predicted or reproduced the recurrent LMO2 integrations seen in previous X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-SCID) and Wiskott-Aldrich clinical gene therapy trials. We now describe a new assay for assessing vector safety that recapitulates naturally occurring insertions into Lmo2 and other T-cell proto-oncogenes leading to a preleukemic developmental arrest in primary murine thymocytes cultured in vitro. This assay was used to compare the relative oncogenic potential of a variety of gamma-RV and lentiviral vectors and to assess the risk conferred by various transcriptional elements contained in these genomes. Gamma-RV vectors that contained full viral long-terminal repeats were most prone to causing double negative 2 (DN2) arrest and led to repeated cases of Lmo2 pathway activation, while lentiviral vectors containing these same elements were significantly less prone to activate proto-oncogenes or cause DN2 arrest. This work provides a new preclinical assay that is especially relevant for assessing safety in SCID disorders and provides a new tool for designing safer RV vectors.

Wang L, Li J, Zhao H, et al.
Identifying the crosstalk of dysfunctional pathways mediated by lncRNAs in breast cancer subtypes.
Mol Biosyst. 2016; 12(3):711-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
Crosstalk among abnormal pathways widely occurs in human cancer and generally leads to insensitivity to cancer treatment. How long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) participate in the regulation of an abnormal pathway crosstalk in human cancer is largely unknown. Here, we proposed a strategy that integrates mRNA and lncRNA expression profiles for systematic identification of lncRNA-mediated crosstalk among risk pathways in different breast cancer subtypes. We identified 12 to 44 crosstalking pathway pairs mediated by 28 to 49 lncRNAs in four breast cancer subtypes. An LncRNA-mediated crosstalking pathway network in each breast cancer subtype was then constructed. We observed a number of breast cancer subtype-specific crosstalks of risk pathways. These subtype-specific lncRNA-mediated pathway crosstalks largely determined subtype-selective functions. Notably, we observed that lncRNAs mediated the crosstalk of pathways by cooperating with known important protein-coding genes, which play core roles in the deterioration of breast cancer. And we also identified key lncRNAs contributing to the crosstalk network in each subtype. As an example, the low expression of LIFR-AS1 was associated with poor survival in LumB subtype, and its cooperated genes IL1R and TGFBR located at the most upstream of the MAPK signaling pathway shared a common cascade path (p38 MAPKs-MEF2C) that can result in proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. In summary, we offer an effective way to characterize complex crosstalks mediated by lncRNAs in breast cancer subtypes, which can be applied to other diseases and provide useful information for understanding the pathogenesis of human cancer.

Laszlo GS, Alonzo TA, Gudgeon CJ, et al.
High expression of myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) is associated with adverse-risk features and poor outcome in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Children's Oncology Group.
J Hematol Oncol. 2015; 8:115 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Recent studies have identified myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) as cooperating oncogene in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and suggested a contribution to the aggressive nature of at least some subtypes of AML, raising the possibility that MEF2C could serve as marker of poor-risk AML and, therefore, have prognostic significance.
METHODS: To test this hypothesis, we retrospectively quantified MEF2C expression in pretreatment bone marrow specimens in participants of the AAML0531 trial by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and correlated expression levels with disease characteristics and clinical outcome.
RESULTS: In all 751 available patient specimens, MEF2C messenger RNA (mRNA) was detectable and varied >3000-fold relative to β-glucuronidase. Patients with the highest relative MEF2C expression (4th quartile) less likely achieved a complete remission after one course of chemotherapy than the other patients (67 vs. 78 %, P = 0.005). They also had an inferior overall survival (P = 0.014; at 5 years 55 ± 8 vs. 67 ± 4 %), inferior event-free survival (P < 0.001; at 5 years 38 ± 7 vs. 54 ± 4 %), and higher relapse risk than patients within the lower 3 quartiles of MEF2C expression (P < 0.001; at 5 years 53 ± 9 vs. 35 ± 5 %). These differences were accounted for by lower prevalence of cytogenetically/molecularly defined low-risk disease (16 vs. 46 %, P < 0.001) and higher prevalence of standard-risk disease (68 vs. 42 %, P < 0.001) in patients with high MEF2C expression, suggesting that MEF2C cooperates with additional pathogenic abnormalities.
CONCLUSIONS: High MEF2C expression identifies a subset of AML patients with adverse-risk disease features and poor outcome. With confirmation that high MEF2C mRNA expression leads to overexpression of MEF2C protein, these findings provide the rationale for therapeutic targeting of MEF2C transcriptional activation in AML.

Nagel S, Meyer C, Kaufmann M, et al.
Aberrant expression of homeobox gene SIX1 in Hodgkin lymphoma.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(37):40112-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
In Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) we recently identified deregulated expression of homeobox genes MSX1 and OTX2 which are physiologically involved in development of the embryonal neural plate border region. Here, we examined in HL homeobox gene SIX1 an additional regulator of this embryonal region mediating differentiation of placodal precursors. SIX1 was aberrantly activated in 12 % of HL patient samples in silico, indicating a pathological role in a subset of this B-cell malignancy. In addition, SIX1 expression was detected in HL cell lines which were used as models to reveal upstream factors and target genes of this basic developmental regulator. We detected increased copy numbers of the SIX1 locus at chromosome 14q23 correlating with enhanced expression while chromosomal translocations were absent. Moreover, comparative expression profiling data and pertinent gene modulation experiments indicated that the WNT-signalling pathway and transcription factor MEF2C regulate SIX1 expression. Genes encoding the transcription factors GATA2, GATA3, MSX1 and SPIB - all basic lymphoid regulators - were identified as targets of SIX1 in HL. In addition, cofactors EYA1 and TLE4, respectively, contrastingly mediated activation and suppression of SIX1 target gene expression. Thus, the protein domain interfaces may represent therapeutic targets in SIX1-positive HL subsets. Collectively, our data reveal a gene regulatory network with SIX1 centrally deregulating lymphoid differentiation and support concordance of lymphopoiesis/lymphomagenesis and developmental processes in the neural plate border region.

Ferrer-Mayorga G, Alvarez-Díaz S, Valle N, et al.
Cystatin D locates in the nucleus at sites of active transcription and modulates gene and protein expression.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(44):26533-48 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cystatin D is an inhibitor of lysosomal and secreted cysteine proteases. Strikingly, cystatin D has been found to inhibit proliferation, migration, and invasion of colon carcinoma cells indicating tumor suppressor activity that is unrelated to protease inhibition. Here, we demonstrate that a proportion of cystatin D locates within the cell nucleus at specific transcriptionally active chromatin sites. Consistently, transcriptomic analysis show that cystatin D alters gene expression, including that of genes encoding transcription factors such as RUNX1, RUNX2, and MEF2C in HCT116 cells. In concordance with transcriptomic data, quantitative proteomic analysis identified 292 proteins differentially expressed in cystatin D-expressing cells involved in cell adhesion, cytoskeleton, and RNA synthesis and processing. Furthermore, using cytokine arrays we found that cystatin D reduces the secretion of several protumor cytokines such as fibroblast growth factor-4, CX3CL1/fractalkine, neurotrophin 4 oncostatin-M, pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine/CCL18, and transforming growth factor B3. These results support an unanticipated role of cystatin D in the cell nucleus, controlling the transcription of specific genes involved in crucial cellular functions, which may mediate its protective action in colon cancer.

Pon JR, Wong J, Saberi S, et al.
MEF2B mutations in non-Hodgkin lymphoma dysregulate cell migration by decreasing MEF2B target gene activation.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:7953 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Myocyte enhancer factor 2B (MEF2B) is a transcription factor with mutation hotspots at K4, Y69 and D83 in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). To provide insight into the regulatory network of MEF2B, in this study, we analyse global gene expression and DNA-binding patterns. We find that candidate MEF2B direct target genes include RHOB, RHOD, CDH13, ITGA5 and CAV1, and that indirect target genes of MEF2B include MYC, TGFB1, CARD11, MEF2C, NDRG1 and FN1. MEF2B overexpression increases HEK293A cell migration and epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and decreases DLBCL cell chemotaxis. K4E, Y69H and D83V MEF2B mutations decrease the capacity of MEF2B to activate transcription and decrease its' effects on cell migration. The K4E and D83V mutations decrease MEF2B DNA binding. In conclusion, our map of the MEF2B regulome connects MEF2B to drivers of oncogenesis.

Kawashima-Goto S, Imamura T, Tomoyasu C, et al.
BCL2 Inhibitor (ABT-737): A Restorer of Prednisolone Sensitivity in Early T-Cell Precursor-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with High MEF2C Expression?
PLoS One. 2015; 10(7):e0132926 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Early T-cell precursor-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ETP-ALL) has been identified as a high-risk subtype of pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Conventional chemotherapy is not fully effective for this subtype of leukemia; therefore, potential therapeutic targets need to be explored. Analysis of the gene expression patterns of the transcription factors in pediatric T-ALL revealed that MEF2C and FLT3 were expressed at higher levels in ETP-ALL than typical T-ALL. Using human T-ALL and BaF3 cell lines with high expression levels of MEF2C, the present study tested whether the BCL2 inhibitor (ABT-737) restores the sensitivity to prednisolone (PSL), because MEF2C causes PSL resistance, possibly by augmenting the anti-apoptotic activity of BCL2. Treatment with PSL and ABT-737 caused a significant reduction in the IC50 of PSL in the MEF2C-expressing LOUCY cells, in addition to the MEF2C-transduced BaF3 cells, but not in the non-MEF2C-expressing Jurkat cells. The combination treatment significantly accelerated the killing of primary leukemic blast cells of ETP-ALL with high expression levels of MEF2C, which were co-cultured with murine stromal cells. These findings suggest that BCL2 inhibitors may be a therapeutic candidate in vivo for patients with ETP-ALL with high expression levels of MEF2C.

Vitali C, Bassani C, Chiodoni C, et al.
SOCS2 Controls Proliferation and Stemness of Hematopoietic Cells under Stress Conditions and Its Deregulation Marks Unfavorable Acute Leukemias.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(11):2387-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) promptly adapt hematopoiesis to stress conditions, such as infection and cancer, replenishing bone marrow-derived circulating populations, while preserving the stem cell reservoir. SOCS2, a feedback inhibitor of JAK-STAT pathways, is expressed in most primitive HSC and is upregulated in response to STAT5-inducing cytokines. We demonstrate that Socs2 deficiency unleashes HSC proliferation in vitro, sustaining STAT5 phosphorylation in response to IL3, thrombopoietin, and GM-CSF. In vivo, SOCS2 deficiency leads to unrestricted myelopoietic response to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and, in turn, induces exhaustion of long-term HSC function along serial bone marrow transplantations. The emerging role of SOCS2 in HSC under stress conditions prompted the investigation of malignant hematopoiesis. High levels of SOCS2 characterize unfavorable subsets of acute myeloid and lymphoblastic leukemias, such as those with MLL and BCR/ABL abnormalities, and correlate with the enrichment of genes belonging to hematopoietic and leukemic stemness signatures. In this setting, SOCS2 and its correlated genes are part of regulatory networks fronted by IKZF1/Ikaros and MEF2C, two transcriptional regulators involved in normal and leukemic hematopoiesis that have never been linked to SOCS2. Accordingly, a comparison of murine wt and Socs2(-/-) HSC gene expression in response to 5-FU revealed a significant overlap with the molecular programs that correlate with SOCS2 expression in leukemias, particularly with the oncogenic pathways and with the IKZF1/Ikaros and MEF2C-predicted targets. Lentiviral gene transduction of murine hematopoietic precursors with Mef2c, but not with Ikzf1, induces Socs2 upregulation, unveiling a direct control exerted by Mef2c over Socs2 expression.

Zheng R, Wang X, Studzinski GP
1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 induces monocytic differentiation of human myeloid leukemia cells by regulating C/EBPβ expression through MEF2C.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015; 148:132-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Myogenic enhancer factor2 (Mef2) consists of a family of transcription factors involved in morphogenesis of skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle cells. Among the four isoforms (Mef2A, 2B, 2C, and 2D), Mef2C was also found to play important roles in hematopoiesis. At myeloid progenitor level, Mef2C expression favors monocytic differentiation. Previous studies from our laboratory demonstrated that ERK5 was activated in 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25D)-induced monocytic differentiation in AML cells and ERK5 activation was accompanied by increased Mef2C phosphorylation. We therefore examined the role of Mef2C in 1,25D-induced monocytic differentiation in AML cell lines (HL60, U937 and THP1) and found that knockdown of Mef2C with small interfering RNA (siRNA) significantly decreases the expression of the monocytic marker, CD14, without affecting the expression of the general myeloid marker, CD11b. CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) β, which can bind to CD14 promoter and increase its transcription, has been shown to be the downstream effector of 1,25D-induced monocytic differentiation in AML cells. When Mef2C was knocked down, expression of C/EBPβ was reduced at both mRNA and protein levels. The protein expression levels of cell cycle regulators, p27(Kip1) and cyclin D1, were not affected by Mef2C knockdown, nor the monopoiesis related transcription factor, ATF2 (activating transcription factor 2). Thus, we conclude that 1,25D-induced monocytic differentiation, and CD14 expression in particular, are mediated through activation of ERK5-Mef2C-C/EBPβ signaling pathway, and that Mef2C does not seem to modulate cell cycle progression.

Zhang M, Zhu B, Davie J
Alternative splicing of MEF2C pre-mRNA controls its activity in normal myogenesis and promotes tumorigenicity in rhabdomyosarcoma cells.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(1):310-24 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. Many cellular disruptions contribute to the progression of this pediatric cancer, including aberrant alternative splicing. The MEF2 family of transcription factors regulates many developmental programs, including myogenesis. MEF2 gene transcripts are subject to alternate splicing to generate protein isoforms with divergent functions. We found that MEF2Cα1 was the ubiquitously expressed isoform that exhibited no myogenic activity and that MEF2Cα2, the muscle-specific MEF2C isoform, was required for efficient differentiation. We showed that exon α in MEF2C was aberrantly alternatively spliced in RMS cells, with the ratio of α2/α1 highly down-regulated in RMS cells compared with normal myoblasts. Compared with MEF2Cα2, MEF2Cα1 interacted more strongly with and recruited HDAC5 to myogenic gene promoters to repress muscle-specific genes. Overexpression of the MEF2Cα2 isoform in RMS cells increased myogenic activity and promoted differentiation in RMS cells. We also identified a serine protein kinase, SRPK3, that was down-regulated in RMS cells and found that expression of SRPK3 promoted the splicing of the MEF2Cα2 isoform and induced differentiation. Restoration of either MEF2Cα2 or SPRK3 inhibited both proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of RMS cells. Together, our findings indicate that the alternative splicing of MEF2C plays an important role in normal myogenesis and RMS development. An improved understanding of alternative splicing events in RMS cells will potentially reveal novel therapeutic targets for RMS treatment.

Zhang JJ, Zhu Y, Xie KL, et al.
Yin Yang-1 suppresses invasion and metastasis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma by downregulating MMP10 in a MUC4/ErbB2/p38/MEF2C-dependent mechanism.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:130 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence indicates an important role of transcription factor Yin Yang-1 (YY1) in human tumorigenesis. However, its function in cancer remains controversial and the relevance of YY1 to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains to be clarified.
METHODS: In this study, we detected YY1 expression in clinical PDAC tissue samples and cell lines using quantitative RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and western blotting. We also detected MUC4 and MMP10 mRNA levels in 108 PDAC samples using qRT-PCR and analyzed the correlations between YY1 and MUC4 or MMP10 expression. The role of YY1 in the proliferation, invasion and metastatic abilities of PDAC cells in vitro was studied by CCK-8 assay, cell migration and invasion assays. In vivo pancreatic tumor growth and metastasis was studied by a xenogenous subcutaneously implant model and a tail vein metastasis model. The potential mechanisms underlying YY1 mediated tumor progression in PDAC were explored by digital gene expression (DGE) sequencing, signal transduction pathways blockage experiments and luciferase assays. Statistical analysis was performed using the SPSS 15.0 software.
RESULTS: We found that the expression of YY1 in PDACs was higher compared with their adjacent non-tumorous tissues and normal pancreas tissues. However, PDAC patients with high level overexpression of YY1 had better outcome than those with low level overexpression. YY1 expression levels were statistically negatively correlated with MMP10 expression levels, but not correlated with MUC4 expression levels. YY1 overexpression suppressed, whereas YY1 knockdown enhanced, the proliferation, invasion and metastatic properties of BXPC-3 cells, both in vitro and in vivo. YY1 suppresses invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells by downregulating MMP10 in a MUC4/ErbB2/p38/MEF2C-dependent mechanism.
CONCLUSIONS: The present study suggested that YY1 plays a negative role, i.e. is a tumor suppressor, in PDAC, and may become a valuable diagnostic and prognostic marker of PDAC.

McGirt LY, Adams CM, Baerenwald DA, et al.
miR-223 regulates cell growth and targets proto-oncogenes in mycosis fungoides/cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
J Invest Dermatol. 2014; 134(4):1101-1107 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The pathogenesis of the cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), mycosis fungoides (MF), is unclear. MicroRNA (miRNA) are small noncoding RNAs that target mRNA leading to reduced mRNA translation. Recently, specific miRNA were shown to be altered in CTCL. We detected significantly reduced expression of miR-223 in early-stage MF skin, and further decreased levels of miR-223 in advanced-stage disease. CTCL peripheral blood mononuclear cells and cell lines also had reduced miR-223 as compared with controls. Elevated expression of miR-223 in these cell lines reduced cell growth and clonogenic potential, whereas inhibition of miR-223 increased cell numbers. Investigations into putative miR-223 targets with oncogenic function, including E2F1 and MEF2C, and the predicted miR-223 target, TOX, revealed that all three were targeted by miR-223 in CTCL. E2F1, MEF2C, and TOX proteins were decreased with miR-223 overexpression, whereas miR-223 inhibition led to increased protein levels in CTCL. In addition, we showed that the 3'-UTR of TOX mRNA was a genuine target of miR-223. Therefore, reduced levels of miR-223 in MF/CTCL lead to increased expression of E2F1, MEF2C, and TOX, which likely contributes to the development and/or progression of CTCL. Thus, miR-223 and its targets may be useful for the development of new therapeutics for MF/CTCL.

Wang X, Pesakhov S, Harrison JS, et al.
ERK5 pathway regulates transcription factors important for monocytic differentiation of human myeloid leukemia cells.
J Cell Physiol. 2014; 229(7):856-67 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are important transducers of external signals for cell growth, survival, and other cellular responses including cell differentiation. Several MAPK cascades are known with the MEK1/2-ERK1/2, JNK, and p38MAPKs receiving most attention, but the role of MEK5-ERK5 in intracellular signaling deserves more scrutiny, as this pathway transmits signals that can complement ERK/2 signaling. We hypothesized that the ERK5 pathway plays a role in the control of monocytic differentiation, which is disturbed in myeloid leukemia. We therefore examined the cellular phenotype and key molecular events which occur when human myeloid leukemia cells, acute (AML) or chronic (CML), are forced to differentiate by vitamin D derivatives (VDDs). This study was performed using established cell lines HL60 and U937, and primary cultures of blasts from 10 patients with ML. We found that ERK5 and its direct downstream target transcription factor MEF2C are upregulated by 1,25D in parallel with monocytic differentiation. Further, inhibition of ERK5 activity by specific pharmacological agents BIX02189 and XMD8-92 alters the phenotype of these cells by reducing the abundance of the VDD-induced surface monocytic marker CD14, and concomitantly increasing surface expression of the general myeloid marker CD11b. Similar results were obtained when the expression of ERK5 was reduced by siRNA or short hairpin (sh) RNA. ERK5 inhibition resulted in an expected decrease in MEF2C activation. We also found that in AML cells the transcription factor C/EBPβ is positively regulated, while C/EBPα is negatively regulated by ERK5. These findings provide new understanding of dysregulated differentiation in human myeloid leukemia.

He Y, Meng XM, Huang C, et al.
Long noncoding RNAs: Novel insights into hepatocelluar carcinoma.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 344(1):20-27 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recent advances in non-protein coding part of human genome analysis have discovered extensive transcription of large RNA transcripts that lack of coding protein function, termed long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). It is becoming evident that lncRNAs may be an important class of pervasive genes involved in carcinogenesis and metastasis. However, the biological and molecular mechanisms of lncRNAs in diverse diseases are not yet fully understood. Thus, it is anticipated that more efforts should be made to clarify the lncRNAs world. Moreover, accumulating studies have demonstrated that a class of lncRNAs are dysregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC) and closely related with tumorigenesis, metastasis, prognosis or diagnosis. In this review, we will briefly discuss the regulation and functional role of lncRNAs in HCC, therefore evaluating the potential of lncRNAs as prospective novel therapeutic targets in HCC.

Zuurbier L, Gutierrez A, Mullighan CG, et al.
Immature MEF2C-dysregulated T-cell leukemia patients have an early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia gene signature and typically have non-rearranged T-cell receptors.
Haematologica. 2014; 99(1):94-102 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Three distinct immature T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia entities have been described including cases that express an early T-cell precursor immunophenotype or expression profile, immature MEF2C-dysregulated T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cluster cases based on gene expression analysis (immature cluster) and cases that retain non-rearranged TRG@ loci. Early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases exclusively overlap with immature cluster samples based on the expression of early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia signature genes, indicating that both are featuring a single disease entity. Patients lacking TRG@ rearrangements represent only 40% of immature cluster cases, but no further evidence was found to suggest that cases with absence of bi-allelic TRG@ deletions reflect a distinct and even more immature disease entity. Immature cluster/early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases are strongly enriched for genes expressed in hematopoietic stem cells as well as genes expressed in normal early thymocyte progenitor or double negative-2A T-cell subsets. Identification of early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases solely by defined immunophenotypic criteria strongly underestimates the number of cases that have a corresponding gene signature. However, early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia samples correlate best with a CD1 negative, CD4 and CD8 double negative immunophenotype with expression of CD34 and/or myeloid markers CD13 or CD33. Unlike various other studies, immature cluster/early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients treated on the COALL-97 protocol did not have an overall inferior outcome, and demonstrated equal sensitivity levels to most conventional therapeutic drugs compared to other pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients.

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