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Genes Cancer. 2012 Jul;3(7-8):481-90. doi: 10.1177/1947601912463695.

CtBP2 Promotes Human Cancer Cell Migration by Transcriptional Activation of Tiam1.

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Department of Cancer Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA ; Department of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.


The mammalian COOH-terminal binding proteins (CtBPs) CtBP1 and CtBP2 are metabolically regulated transcriptional co-repressors that are degraded upon acute exposure to the alternative reading frame (ARF) tumor suppressor. We reported previously that CtBP stimulates cell migration in certain contexts via repression of PTEN transcription and activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. We have now identified an additional and direct mechanism for CtBP stimulation of cell migration via regulation of T-cell lymphoma invasion and metastasis 1 (Tiam1) protein. Tiam1 is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Rac GTPase that plays a critical role in regulating cell adhesion, invasion, and migration and has been directly implicated in the promotion of cancer progression and metastasis. We noted a strict positive correlation between CtBP2 and Tiam1 expression levels and that CtBP promotion of cell migration required CtBP-dependent transcriptional activation of Tiam1. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown of CtBP2 in human colon or lung carcinoma cells led to decreased Tiam1 protein and mRNA expression, while overexpression of CtBP2 increased Tiam1 expression levels. RNAi and overexpression studies also demonstrated that Tiam1 is a key downstream mediator of CtBP2-mediated cell migration. An analysis of the Tiam1 promoter revealed binding sites for the CtBP-interacting Kruppel-like factor 8 (KLF8), and a Tiam1 promoter luciferase reporter was induced in the presence of both KLF8 and CtBP2, consistent with KLF8-dependent CtBP transactivation of Tiam1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses demonstrated CtBP2 occupancy of the Tiam1 promoter that was dependent on the presence of KLF8. Our results indicate that Tiam1 is a transcriptional activation target of CtBP2 and that this interaction promotes the pro-oncogenic function of CtBP2 leading to cancer cell migration. Transcriptional activation thus plays a role in CtBP pro-oncogenic functions along with the previously characterized CtBP co-repressor function.


CtBP; TIAM; invasion; migration; transactivation

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