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J Cell Physiol. 2013 Apr;228(4):791-800. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24228.

Role of COUP-TFI during retinoic acid-induced differentiation of P19 cells to endodermal cells.

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Departments of Biochemistry, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140, USA.


Retinoic acid (RA) is a positive regulator of P19 cell differentiation. Silencing of pre-B cell leukemia transcription factors (PBXs) expression in P19 cells (AS cells) results in a failure of these cells to differentiate to endodermal cells upon RA treatment. Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter Transcription Factor I (COUP-TFI) is an orphan member of the steroid-thyroid hormone superfamily. RA treatment of wild type P19 cells results in a dramatic increase in the expression of COUP-TFI; however, COUP-TFI mRNA levels fail to be elevated upon RA treatment of AS cells indicating that PBX expression is required for elevation in COUP-TFI expression. To study the role of COUP-TFI during RA-dependent differentiation of P19 cells, AS cells that inducibly express various levels of COUP-TFI were prepared. Exogenous expression of COUP-TFI in AS cells, in a dose-dependent fashion, leads to growth inhibition, modest cell cycle disruption, and early apoptosis. Furthermore, AS cells can overcome the blockage in RA-dependent differentiation to endodermal cells when either pharmacological levels of COUP-TFI are expressed or a combination of both the expression of physiological levels of COUP-TFI and RA treatment. Additionally, the mRNA level of several pluripotency associated genes including OCT-4, DAX-1, and SF-1 in the COUP-TFI expressing AS cells are reduced. Moreover, analysis of the expression of primary RA response genes indicates that COUP-TFI is involved in the regulatory modulation of the expression of at least two genes, CYP26A1 and HoxA1. These studies demonstrate that COUP-TFI functions as a physiologically relevant regulator during RA-mediated endodermal differentiation of P19 cells.

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