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J Biol Chem. 2011 Nov 18;286(46):39893-903. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.257451. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

A complex of nuclear factor I-X3 and STAT3 regulates astrocyte and glioma migration through the secreted glycoprotein YKL-40.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298, USA.


Nuclear factor I-X3 (NFI-X3) is a newly identified splice variant of NFI-X that regulates expression of several astrocyte-specific markers, such as glial fibrillary acidic protein. Here, we identified a set of genes regulated by NFI-X3 that includes a gene encoding a secreted glycoprotein YKL-40. Although YKL-40 expression is up-regulated in glioblastoma multiforme, its regulation and functions in nontransformed cells of the central nervous system are widely unexplored. We find that expression of YKL-40 is activated during brain development and also differentiation of neural progenitors into astrocytes in vitro. Furthermore, YKL-40 is a migration factor for primary astrocytes, and its expression is controlled by both NFI-X3 and STAT3, which are known regulators of gliogenesis. Knockdown of NFI-X3 and STAT3 significantly reduced YKL-40 expression in astrocytes, whereas overexpression of NFI-X3 dramatically enhanced YKL-40 expression in glioma cells. Activation of STAT3 by oncostatin M induced YKL-40 expression in astrocytes, whereas expression of a dominant-negative STAT3 had a suppressive effect. Mechanistically, NFI-X3 and STAT3 form a complex that binds to weak regulatory elements in the YKL-40 promoter and activates transcription. We propose that NFI-X3 and STAT3 control the migration of differentiating astrocytes as well as migration and invasion of glioma cells via regulating YKL-40 expression.

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