Discovery of novel hexokinase published in Nature Communications

Coordinated regulatory variation associated with gestational hyperglycaemia regulates expression of the novel hexokinase HKDC1

Cong (Karl) Guo, Anton E. Ludvik, Michelle E. Arlotto, M. Geoffrey Hayes, Loren L. Armstrong, Denise M. Scholtens, Christopher D. Brown, Christopher B. Newgard, Thomas C. Becker, Brian T. Layden, William L. Lowe  & Timothy E. Reddy

Maternal glucose levels during pregnancy impact the developing fetus, affecting metabolic health early and later in life. Both genetic and environmental factors influence maternal metabolism, but little is known about the genetic mechanisms that alter glucose metabolism during pregnancy. Here we report that haplotypes previously associated with gestational hyperglycemia in the third trimester disrupt regulatory element activity and reduce expression of the nearby HKDC1 gene. We further find that experimentally reducing or increasing HKDC1 expression reduces or increases hexokinase activity, respectively, in multiple cellular models; and that purified HKDC1 protein has hexokinase activity in vitro. Together, these results suggest a novel mechanism of gestational glucose regulation in which the effects of genetic variants in multiple regulatory elements alter glucose homeostasis by coordinately reducing expression of the novel hexokinase HKDC1.

Link to the full article.

GRHL2 paper published in PNAS

Evidence for multiple roles for grainyheadlike 2 in the establishment and maintenance of human mucociliary airway epithelium.

Gao X, Vockley CM, Pauli F, Newberry KM, Xue Y, Randell SH, Reddy TE, Hogan BL. 

Most of the airways of the human lung are lined by an epithelium made up of ciliated and secretory luminal cells and undifferentiated basal progenitor cells. The integrity of this epithelium and its ability to act as a selective barrier are critical for normal lung function. In other epithelia, there is evidence that transcription factors of the evolutionarily conserved grainyheadlike (GRHL) family play key roles in coordinating multiple cellular processes required for epithelial morphogenesis, differentiation, remodeling, and repair. However, only a few target genes have been identified, and little is known about GRHL function in the adult lung. Here we focus on the role of GRHL2 in primary human bronchial epithelial cells, both as undifferentiated progenitors and as they differentiate in air-liquid interface culture into an organized mucociliary epithelium with transepithelial resistance. Using a dominant-negative protein or shRNA to inhibit GRHL2, we follow changes in epithelial phenotype and gene transcription using RNA sequencing or microarray analysis. We identify several hundreds of genes that are directly or indirectly regulated by GRHL2 in both undifferentiated cells and air-liquid interface cultures. Using ChIP sequencing to map sites of GRHL2 binding in the basal cells, we identify 7,687 potential primary targets and confirm that GRHL2 binding is strongly enriched near GRHL2-regulated genes. Taken together, the results support the hypothesis that GRHL2 plays a key role in regulating many physiological functions of human airway epithelium, including those involving cell morphogenesis, adhesion, and motility.