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Vineet K Maurya, Maria M Szwarc, Rodrigo Fernandez-Valdivia, David M Lonard, Song Yong, Niraj Joshi, Asgerally T Fazleabas, and John P Lydon

Although a non-malignant gynecological disorder, endometriosis displays some pathogenic features of malignancy, such as cell proliferation, migration, invasion and adaptation to hypoxia. Current treatments of endometriosis include pharmacotherapy and/or surgery, which are of limited efficacy and often associated with adverse side effects. Therefore, to develop more effective therapies to treat this disease, a broader understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms that underpin endometriosis needs to be attained. Using immortalized human endometriotic epithelial and stromal cell lines, we demonstrate that the early growth response 1 (EGR1) transcription factor is essential for cell proliferation, migration and invasion, which represent some of the pathogenic properties of endometriotic cells. Genome-wide transcriptomics identified an EGR1-dependent transcriptome in human endometriotic epithelial cells that potentially encodes a diverse spectrum of proteins that are known to be involved in tissue pathologies. To underscore the utility of this transcriptomic data set, we demonstrate that carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9), a homeostatic regulator of intracellular pH, is not only a molecular target of EGR1 but is also important for maintaining many of the cellular properties of human endometriotic epithelial cells that are also ascribed to EGR1. Considering therapeutic intervention strategies are actively being developed for EGR1 and CAIX in the treatment of other pathologies, we believe EGR1 and its transcriptome (which includes CA9) will offer not only a new conceptual framework to advance our understanding of endometriosis but will also furnish new molecular vulnerabilities to be leveraged as potential therapeutic options in the future treatment of endometriosis.

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Maria M Szwarc, Lan Hai, William E Gibbons, Lisa D White, Qianxing Mo, Ramakrishna Kommagani, Rainer B Lanz, Francesco J DeMayo, Bert W O’Malley, and John P Lydon

Establishment of a successful pregnancy requires not only implantation of a healthy embryo into a receptive uterus but also progesterone receptor (PGR)-dependent transformation of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) into specialized decidual cells. Decidual cells support the developing embryo and are critical for placentation. We have previously shown that a known transcriptional coregulator of the PGR, steroid receptor coactivator-2 (SRC-2), is a critical driver of endometrial decidualization in both human and mouse endometrium. However, the full spectrum of genes transcriptionally controlled by SRC-2 in decidualizing ESCs has not been identified. Therefore, using an RNA- and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing approach, we have identified the transcriptome of decidualizing human ESCs (hESCs) that requires SRC-2. We revealed that the majority of hESC genes regulated by SRC-2 are associated with decidualization. Over 50% of SRC-2-regulated genes are also controlled by the PGR. While ontology analysis showed that SRC-2-dependent genes are functionally linked to signaling processes known to underpin hESC decidualization, cell membrane processes were significantly enriched in this analysis. Follow-up studies showed that retinoid signaling is dependent on SRC-2 during hESC decidualization. Specifically, SRC-2 is required for full induction of the retinol transporter, stimulated by retinoic acid 6 (STRA6), which is essential for hESC decidualization. Together our findings show that a critical subset of genes transcriptionally reprogramed by PGR during hESC decidualization requires SRC-2. Among the multiple genes, pathways and networks that are dependent on SRC-2 during hESC decidualization, first-line analysis supports a critical role for this coregulator in maintaining retinoid signaling during progesterone-driven decidualization.