MYC transcriptional functions controlling epidermal stem cell self-renewal and differentiation
University of Cambridge
Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Nascimento, E. (2011). MYC transcriptional functions controlling epidermal stem cell self-renewal and differentiation (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.16482
The oncoprotein MYC has long been recognized as an important stem cell regulator, yet its direct biological contributions have been difficult to determine. MYC activation can induce pleiotropic phenotypes and mediates cellular functions as opposing as cell growth and proliferation, metabolism, differentiation and apoptosis. In addition, functional redundancy with MYCL and MYCN proteins as well as dose dependency, complicates the identification of the most relevant biological functions. Studies in tissues with high proliferative capacity and rapid turnover have shown that MYC is a key regulator of homeostasis by balancing stem cell self-renewal, proliferation and differentiation processes. In skin, MYC induces the exit of epidermal stem cells from their niche, increases proliferation of progenitor cells and subsequently stimulates lineage specific differentiation into interfollicular epidermis and sebaceous glands; yet the direct transcriptional roles of MYC in these processes remained elusive. To gain insight into the transcriptional roles of MYC in epidermal stem cell homeostasis, I performed chromatin immunoprecipitation on microarrays (ChIP-on-Chip) using mouse proximal promoter arrays combined with mRNA expression data that was generated using epidermal cells from wild-type and transgenic K14MycER mice, treated in a time-course from zero to six days with tamoxifen, to induce the ‘Myc’ transgene expression in the basal undifferentiated layers of the epidermis. Data analysis revealed that 2187 genes, which corresponds to 15% of the promoter regions covered, were directly regulated by MYC. To identify genes uniquely regulated by MYC in skin, I performed gene expression studies on mouse skin in which MYC was conditionally deleted in the basal layer of the epidermis. Remarkably, I found that 45% of all repressed genes were related to epidermal maintenance and differentiation. To better understand the mechanism of how MYC induces keratinocytes to differentiate specifically into lineages of sebaceous glands and interfollicular epidermis, I analyzed whether MYC might have directly regulated genes involved in skin differentiation. Here, I focused my studies on a single 2.2 Mb locus located on mouse chromosome 3 designated as the epidermal differentiation complex (EDC). To assess how activation of MYC could influence the expression of genes localized to the EDC, I performed ChIP-on-Chip for MYC, H3K4me3, H3K27me3, as well as transcription factors, which have been described to regulate terminal differentiation in skin, such as CEBPα, OVOL-1, KLF4, TCFAP2-γ and SIN3A, among others. I demonstrated that MYC recruits a specific set of tissue-specific transcription factors to the EDC, (e.g. KLF4 and OVOL-1) and thereby prevents binding of a different and distinct set of genomic regulators, (e.g. CEBPα , MXI1 and SIN3A). Using a combination of mouse models and systems biology tools, I then identified SIN3A as a key regulator in this MYC-dependent transcriptional network. I found that MYC and SIN3A form a negative feedback loop, which is required to balance proliferation and differentiation in epidermis, and both factors are essential to maintain skin homeostasis.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.16482