Investigation into Early growth response 1 in colorectal disease: a study of EGR1 expression in colorectal tissue and novel protein interactions in cancer cells
Gernon, Grainne Mary
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Introduction: Early growth response 1 (EGR1) is a zinc-finger transcription factor involved in the regulation of cell growth. It can act as either a tumour suppressor or a tumour promoter with a role in the induction of apoptosis in cancer cells by various pathways and is likely to play a role in colorectal cancer (CRC). EGR1 also appears to play a significant role in inflammatory pathways, therefore a possible role in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is hypothesised. Patients with IBD have a greater risk of developing CRC, which is increased with duration of symptoms and severity of inflammation and dysplasia. The aim of this study is to determine whether EGR1 is differentially expressed in diseased colon tissue and to investigate novel EGR1-protein interactions in CRC cell lines. Methods: The relative EGR1 expression in CRC cell lines and in normal mucosa and tumours of colorectal cancer patients was determined by qRT-PCR. IBD patient samples were also examined for differential EGR1 expression levels by qRT-PCR, before and after stimulation with inflammatory mediators. Statistical analysis of the data was performed using ‘R’ statistical package, with the mixed-model ANOVA. Statistical significance was set at < 0.05. The genotype of three EGR1 variants was determined in the samples using PCR and sequencing, and the methylation status of regions of the EGR1 promoter was determined using bisulfite sequencing. A yeasttwo hybrid screen was conducted with EGR1 as bait, and screened against a SW480 CRC cell line library. Interesting novel interactions were investigated using immunocytochemistry and immunoprecipitation, as was the novel interaction between EGR1 and NOD2 and between EGR1 and components of the cytoskeleton. Results: Investigation into the relative EGR1 mRNA expression in CRC has shown that there is differential expression of EGR1 between matched normal mucosa and tumour. EGR1 expression is decreased in IBD patients compared with healthy controls. Induction of EGR1 by inflammatory stimuli also appears to be aberrant in these patients. The differential expression of EGR1 was not associated with aberrant methylation of a large region of the EGR1 promoter in either the CRC or IBD patients or with the genotype of EGR1 variants. EGR1 localises to both the cytoplasm and the nucleus in CRC cell lines and this study demonstrate interactions with the IBD susceptibility protein NOD2 and with components of the cyotskeleton. A yeast-two hybrid screen conducted with EGR1 as bait using a CRC cell line library has identified several other novel protein interactions of EGR1 in CRC cell lines. Conclusion: EGR1 is differentially expressed in both CRC and IBD, and in the case of IBD shows aberrant activity, suggesting that EGR1 may play a role in both colorectal diseases. EGR1 interacts with the IBD protein NOD2, and components of the cytoskeleton in CRC cells. Several novel protein interactions with EGR1 have been identified and warrant further study.