The Journal of biological chemistry

Unbiased screening for transcriptional targets of ZKSCAN3 identifies integrin beta 4 and vascular endothelial growth factor as downstream targets.

PMID 18940803


We previously described the novel zinc finger protein ZKSCAN3 as a new "driver" of colon cancer progression. To investigate the underlying mechanism and because the predicted structural features (tandem zinc fingers) are often present in transcription factors, we hypothesized that ZKSCAN3 regulates the expression of a gene(s) favoring tumor progression. We employed unbiased screening to identify a DNA binding motif and candidate downstream genes. Cyclic amplification and selection of targets using a random oligonucleotide library and ZKSCAN3 protein identified KRDGGG as the DNA recognition motif. In expression profiling, 204 genes were induced 2-29-fold, and 76 genes reduced 2-5-fold by ZKSCAN3. To enrich for direct targets, we eliminated genes under-represented (<3) for the ZKSCAN3 binding motif (identified by CAST-ing) in 2 kilobases of regulatory sequence. Up-regulated putative downstream targets included genes contributing to growth (c-Met-related tyrosine kinase (MST1R), MEK2; the guanine nucleotide exchanger RasGRP2, insulin-like growth factor-2, integrin beta 4), cell migration (MST1R), angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor), and proteolysis (MMP26; cathepsin D; PRSS3 (protease serine 3)). We pursued integrin beta 4 (induced up to 6-fold) as a candidate target because it promotes breast cancer tumorigenicity and stimulates phosphatidyl 3-kinase implicated in colorectal cancer progression. ZKSCAN3 overexpression/silencing modulated integrin beta 4 expression, confirming the array analysis. Moreover, ZKSCAN3 bound to the integrin beta 4 promoter in vitro and in vivo, and the integrin beta 4-derived ZKSCAN3 motif fused upstream of a tk-Luc reporter conferred ZKSCAN3 sensitivity. Integrin beta 4 knockdown by short hairpin RNA countered ZKSCAN3-augmented anchorage-independent colony formation. We also demonstrate vascular endothelial growth factor as a direct ZKSCAN3 target. Thus, ZKSCAN3 regulates the expression of several genes favoring tumor progression including integrin beta 4.