EMBO J. 2009 Oct 21;28(20):3185-95. Epub 2009 Sep 17.
Center for Integrative Genomics, University of Lausanne, Génopode, Lausanne, Switzerland.
E2F1 is a key positive regulator of human cell proliferation and its activity is altered in essentially all human cancers. Deregulation of E2F1 leads to oncogenic DNA damage and anti-oncogenic apoptosis. The molecular mechanisms by which E2F1 mediates these two processes are poorly understood but are important for understanding cancer progression. During the G1-to-S phase transition, E2F1 associates through a short DHQY sequence with the cell-cycle regulator HCF-1 together with the mixed-lineage leukaemia (MLL) family of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methyltransferases. We show here that the DHQY HCF-1-binding sequence permits E2F1 to stimulate both DNA damage and apoptosis, and that HCF-1 and the MLL family of H3K4 methyltransferases have important functions in these processes. Thus, HCF-1 has a broader role in E2F1 function than appreciated earlier. Indeed, sequence changes in the E2F1 HCF-1-binding site can modulate both up and down the ability of E2F1 to induce apoptosis indicating that HCF-1 association with E2F1 is a regulator of E2F1-induced apoptosis.