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Transcriptional regulation of SRC by the SP family of factors and histone deacetylase inhibitors



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The SRC gene encodes pp60c-Src, a 60 kDa non-receptor tyrosine kinase that is frequently activated and/or overexpressed in many cancers including colon cancer. In a subset of colon cancer cell lines, it has been shown, that the overexpression of c-Src can be explained, in part, by the transcriptional activation of the SRC gene. As a result, the general goal of this thesis was to further characterize how SRC is transcriptionally regulated in human cancer cell lines. Two highly dissimilar promoters, the housekeeping-like SRC1A promoter, as well as the HIF-1α regulated tissue-specific SRC1α promoter, regulate SRC expression. hnRNP K and the Sp family of factors regulate the SRC1A promoter; however, the true impact of Sp3 on SRC1A activity was not understood. In this thesis, a comprehensive analysis of the effect of Sp3 on SRC1A activity was performed. Physiologically, Sp3 exists as four translational isoforms that, in part, dictate the activation potential of Sp3. In general, the longer forms of Sp3 were modest transcriptional activators of the SRC1A promoter whereas the shorter forms were unable to activate the SRC1A promoter. An analysis of all Sp3 isoforms identified that the shorter Sp3 isoforms could be converted into transcriptional activators of SRC1A if the SUMOylation of a critical lysine residue within the inhibitory domain was prevented. Conversely, SUMOylation of the same isoform had little effect on the activation potential of the longer Sp3 isoforms at the SRC1A promoter. These results suggest that transcriptional activation by Sp3 is promoter context-, isoform- and modification-dependent. SRC is transcriptionally repressed by histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) and despite unsuccessful studies attempting to identify HDI-responsive elements within the SRC promoter regions none could be identified. This finding also suggests that histone deacetylases (HDACs) may be required for SRC expression. Historically, it was believed that HDIs act at the histone level to alter chromatin dynamics through the inactivation of HDACs to result in histone hyperacetylation and increased transcriptional activation. As such, a systematic investigation of the changes in histone H3 and H4 acetylation status at the transcriptionally repressed SRC promoter regions and the transcriptionally activated p21WAF1 promoter region was performed. The p21WAF1 promoter was used as control in this study as p21WAF1 is a classical example of a gene transcriptionally activated by HDIs. Interestingly, similar changes in histone acetylation at the p21WAF1 promoter and both SRC promoter regions were observed. Upon closer examination of acetylation changes at discreet histone residues, it was observed that in the rare case that a particular residue was differentially acetylated upon treatment at the promoter regions analyzed, the SRC1α and p21WAF1 promoter regions demonstrated more similar changes in acetylation as compared to SRC1A. Taken together, these results suggest that histone acetylation status is not an accurate indicator of transcriptional activity following HDI treatment. To further investigate HDI-mediated SRC repression, RNA Pol. II occupancy at the promoter and regions downstream of the promoter were assessed. Despite the continued occupancy of RNA Pol. II at the promoter regions, RNA Pol. II was lost from the 3' UTR upon treatment with HDIs. These findings suggest that RNA Pol. II . may be sequestered at the promoter regions upon treatment with HDIs possibly as a result of impeded transcription initiation and/or elongation. Further analysis of the phosphorylation status of RNA Pol. II identified that transcriptional initiation was indeed occurring despite HDI treatment; however, productive transcriptional elongation could not be confirmed thus suggesting a role for abrogated elongation in HDI mediated SRC repression. Complimentary analysis of the effects of HDACs on SRC expression suggested that while class I HDACs abrogated SRC expression, class II HDACs were required for the maintenance of SRC transcript levels in a promoter-independent fashion. Together, these results provide the basis for a model whereby HDIs repress SRC transcriptional expression through the inhibition of class II HDAC activity to eventually result in curtailed SRC transcriptional elongation.



Sp3, Sp1, RNA Polymerase II, histone deacetylases inhibitors, SRC, acetylation, transcription



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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