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Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Aug;31(16):3223-40. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01365-10. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

LMO7 mediates cell-specific activation of the Rho-myocardin-related transcription factor-serum response factor pathway and plays an important role in breast cancer cell migration.

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Department of Cancer and Cell Biology, Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0521, USA.


Serum response factor (SRF) is a ubiquitously expressed transcription factor that regulates cell-specific functions such as muscle development and breast cancer metastasis. The myocardin-related transcription factors (MRTFs), which are transcriptional coactivators mediating cell-specific functions of SRF, are also ubiquitously expressed. How MRTFs and SRF drive cell-specific transcription is still not fully understood. Here we show that LIM domain only 7 (LMO7) is a cell-specific regulator of MRTFs and plays an important role in breast cancer cell migration. LMO7 activates MRTFs by relieving actin-mediated inhibition in a manner that requires, and is synergistic with, Rho GTPase. Whereas Rho is required for LMO7 to activate full-length MRTFs that have three RPEL actin-binding motifs, the disruption of individual actin-RPEL interactions is sufficient to eliminate the Rho dependency and to allow the strong Rho-independent function of LMO7. Mechanistically, we show that LMO7 colocalizes with F-actin and reduces the G-actin/F-actin ratio via a Rho-independent mechanism. The knockdown of LMO7 in HeLa and MDA-MB-231 cells compromises both basal and Rho-stimulated MRTF activities and impairs the migration of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. We also show that LMO7 is upregulated in the stroma of invasive breast carcinoma in a manner that correlates with the increased expression of SRF target genes that regulate muscle and actin cytoskeleton functions. Together, this study reveals a novel cell-specific mechanism regulating Rho-MRTF-SRF signaling and breast cancer cell migration and identifies a role for actin-RPEL interactions in integrating Rho and cell-specific signals to achieve both the synergistic and Rho-dependent activation of MRTFs.

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