Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling plays key regulatory roles in embryonic development and postnatal homeostasis and repair. Modulation of the Shh pathway is known to cause malformations and malignancies associated with dysregulated tissue growth. However, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which Shh regulates cellular proliferation is incomplete. Here, using mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we demonstrate that the Forkhead box gene Foxd1 is transcriptionally regulated by canonical Shh signaling and required for downstream proliferative activity. We show that Foxd1 deletion abrogates the proliferative response to SHH ligand while FOXD1 overexpression alone is sufficient to induce cellular proliferation. The proliferative response to both SHH ligand and FOXD1 overexpression was blocked by pharmacologic inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase signaling. Time-course experiments revealed that Shh pathway activation of Foxd1 is followed by downregulation of Cdkn1c, which encodes a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor. Consistent with a direct transcriptional regulation mechanism, we found that FOXD1 reduces reporter activity of a Fox enhancer sequence in the second intron of Cdkn1c. Supporting the applicability of these findings to specific biological contexts, we show that Shh regulation of Foxd1 and Cdkn1c is recapitulated in cranial neural crest cells and provide evidence that this mechanism is operational during upper lip morphogenesis. These results reveal a novel Shh-Foxd1-Cdkn1c regulatory circuit that drives the mitogenic action of Shh signaling and may have broad implications in development and disease.
Cellular Signalling – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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