SOX4 exerts contrasting regulatory effects on labor-associated gene promoters in myometrial cells

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Khader, N.; Shchuka, V. M.; Dorogin, A.; Shynlova, O.; Mitchell, J. A.


The uterine muscular layer, or myometrium, undergoes profound changes in global gene expression during its progression from a quiescent state during pregnancy to a contractile state at the onset of labor. In this study, we investigate the role of SOX family transcription factors in myometrial cells and provide evidence for the role of SOX4 in regulating labor-associated genes. We show that Sox4 has elevated expression in the murine myometrium during a term laboring process and in two mouse models of preterm labor. Additionally, SOX4 differentially affects labor-associated gene promoter activity in cooperation with activator protein 1 (AP-1) dimers. SOX4 exerted no effect on the Gja1 promoter; a JUND-specific activation effect at the Fos promoter; a positive activation effect on the Mmp11 promoter with the AP-1 dimers; and surprisingly, we noted that the reporter expression of the Ptgs2 promoter in the presence of JUND and FOSL2 was repressed by the addition of SOX4. Our data indicate SOX4 may play a diverse role in regulating gene expression in the laboring myometrium in cooperation with AP-1 factors. This study enhances our current understanding of the regulatory network that governs the transcriptional changes associated with the onset of labor and highlights a new molecular player that may contribute to the labor transcriptional program.

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