The transcription factor Atoh1/Hath1 plays crucial roles in the differentiation program of human intestinal epithelium cells (IECs). Although previous studies have indicated that the Notch signal suppresses the differentiation program of IEC, the mechanism by which it does so remains unknown. This study shows that the undifferentiated state is maintained by the suppression of the Hath1 gene in human intestine.
To assess the effect of Notch signaling, doxycycline-induced expression of Notch intracellular domain (NICD) and Hes1 cells were generated in LS174T. Hath1 gene expression was analyzed by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Hath1 promoter region targeted by HES1 was determined by both reporter analysis and ChIP assay. Expression of Hath1 protein in ulcerative colitis (UC) was examined by immunohistochemistry.
Hath1 mRNA expression was increased by Notch signal inhibition. However, Hath1 expression was suppressed by ectopic HES1 expression alone even under Notch signal inhibition. Suppression of the Hath1 gene by Hes1, which binds to the 5′ promoter region of Hath1, resulted in suppression of the phenotypic gene expression for goblet cells. In UC, the cooperation of aberrant expression of HES1 and the disappearance of caudal type homeobox 2 (CDX2) caused Hath1 suppression, resulting in goblet cell depletion.
The present study suggests that Hes1 is essential for Hath1 gene suppression via Notch signaling. Moreover, the suppression of Hath1 is associated with goblet cell depletion in UC. Understanding the regulation of goblet cell depletion may lead to the development of new therapy for UC. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2011;)