Comparative gene expression profile analysis of GLI and c-MYC in an epithelial model of malignant transformation

Academic Article


  • Transcription factor oncogenes such as GLI and c-MYC are central to the pathogenesis of human tumors. GLI encodes a zinc finger protein that is activated by Sonic Hedgehog signaling. Mutations in this pathway induce GLI expression in basal cell carcinoma, and expression of GLI in mice is sufficient to induce these skin tumors. We used microarrays to identify transcripts regulated by GLI or c-MYC after retroviral transduction and short-term culture of epithelial RK3E cells. Although each of these oncogenes induces malignant transformation of RK3E, two distinct sets of genes were identified. Of ∼17, 500 transcripts represented on the microarrays, GLI up-regulated the expression of 158 and repressed the expression of 52. In contrast, transcripts regulated by c-MYC were mainly repressed (424 of 682 regulated transcripts). Transcripts induced by the GLI transgene are likewise expressed in association with endogenous GLI in Ptch-deficient murine fibroblasts or in human skin tumors, but are not up-regulated in RK3E cells transformed by c-MYC, KLF4, or HRASI. Unlike these other oncogenes, GLI induced the expression of mesenchymal cell markers including Snail, a zinc finger ringer protein implicated in epithelial-mesenchymal transition in development and during tumor progression. A novel GLI-estrogen receptor fusion protein rapidly induced Snail mRNA expression in a manner like Ptch, a known direct transcriptional target gene. Induction of Snail expression and epithelial-mesenchymal transition by GLI may account for certain histopathological features of basal cell carcinoma, such as the absence of a well-defined, intraepithelial precursor lesion. In addition, consistent expression of the newly identified GLI-induced transcripts within GLI-expressing tumors in vivo indicates that oncogene-specific transcriptional profiles may be useful diagnostic tools for analysis of human tumors.
  • Published In

  • Cancer Research  Journal
  • Author List

  • Louro ID; Bailey EC; Li X; South LS; McKie-Bell PR; Yoder BK; Huang CC; Johnson MR; Hill AE; Johnson RL
  • Start Page

  • 5867
  • End Page

  • 5873
  • Volume

  • 62
  • Issue

  • 20