SRF co-factors control the balance between cell proliferation and contractility

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The ERK-regulated ternary complex factors (TCFs) act with the transcription factor serum response factor (SRF) to activate mitogen-induced transcription. However, the extent of their involvement in the immediate-early transcriptional response, and their wider functional significance, has remained unclear. We show that, in MEFs, TCF inactivation significantly inhibits over 60% of TPA-inducible gene transcription and impairs cell proliferation. Using integrated SRF ChIP-seq and Hi-C data, we identified over 700 TCF-dependent SRF direct target genes involved in signaling, transcription, and proliferation. These also include a significant number of cytoskeletal gene targets for the Rho-regulated myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF) SRF cofactor family. The TCFs act as general antagonists of MRTF-dependent SRF target gene expression, competing directly with the MRTFs for access to SRF. As a result, TCF-deficient MEFs exhibit hypercontractile and pro-invasive behavior. Thus, competition between TCFs and MRTFs for SRF determines the balance between antagonistic proliferative and contractile programs of gene expression.

Journal details

Journal Molecular Cell
Volume 64
Issue number 6
Pages 1048-1061
Available online
Publication date