HNF4 alpha orchestrates a set of 14 genes to down-regulate cell proliferation in kidney cells.
Abstract Few genes are known to be involved in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) development and progression. The cell-specific transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4 alpha) is down-regulated in RCC and we have shown that HNF4 alpha inhibits cell proliferation in the embryonic kidney cell line HEK293. To clarify the possible tumor suppressor activity of HNF4 alpha we analyzed the whole human expression profile in HEK293 cells upon HNF4 alpha induction. By comparing induced and uninduced cells, we identified 1411 differentially expressed genes. Using RNA interference, we screened 56 HNF4 alpha-regulated genes for their possible role in mediating inhibition of cell proliferation triggered by HNF4 alpha. We demonstrate that 14 of these regulated genes are able to contribute to the inhibitory effect of HNF4 alpha on cell proliferation, including well-known cancer genes, such as CDKN1A (p21), TGFA, MME (NEP) and ADAMTS1. In addition, the genes SEPP1, THEM2, BPHL, DSC2, ANK3, ALDH6A1, EPHX2, NELL2, EFHD1 and PROS1 are also part of the network of HNF4 alpha target genes that regulate proliferation in HEK293 cells. Therefore, we postulate that HNF4 alpha orchestrates, at least, these 14 genes to regulate cell proliferation in HEK293 cells and that down-regulation of HNF4 alpha could contribute to the progression of kidney cancer.