Transcription factor TAp73 and microRNA-449 complement each other to support multiciliogenesis


Motile cilia serve vital functions in development, homeostasis, and regeneration. We recently demonstrated that TAp73 is an essential transcriptional regulator of respiratory multiciliogenesis. Here, we show that TAp73 is expressed in multiciliated cells (MCCs) of diverse tissues. Analysis of TAp73 mutant animals revealed that TAp73 regulates Foxj1, Rfx2, Rfx3, axonemal dyneins Dnali1 and Dnai1, plays a pivotal role in the generation of MCCs in male and female reproductive ducts, and contributes to fertility. However, the function of MCCs in the brain appears to be preserved despite the loss of TAp73, and robust activity of cilia-related networks is maintained in the absence of TAp73. Notably, TAp73 loss leads to distinct changes in ciliogenic microRNAs: miR34bc expression is reduced, whereas the miR449 cluster is induced in diverse multiciliated epithelia. Among different MCCs, choroid plexus (CP) epithelial cells in the brain display prominent miR449 expression, whereas brain ventricles exhibit significant increase in miR449 levels along with an increase in the activity of ciliogenic E2F4/MCIDAS circuit in TAp73 mutant animals. Conversely, E2F4 induces robust transcriptional response from miR449 genomic regions. To address whether increased miR449 levels in the brain maintain the multiciliogenesis program in the absence of TAp73, we deleted both TAp73 and miR449 in mice. Although loss of miR449 alone led to a mild ciliary defect in the CP, more pronounced ciliary defects and hydrocephalus were observed in the brain lacking both TAp73 and miR449. In contrast, miR449 loss in other MCCs failed to enhance ciliary defects associated with TAp73 loss. Together, our study shows that, in addition to the airways, TAp73 is essential for generation of MCCs in male and female reproductive ducts, whereas miR449 and TAp73 complement each other to support multiciliogenesis and CP development in the brain.

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We thank Tak Mak for providing TAp73 KO mice, Gerd Hasenfuß for support, Matthias Dobbelstein for hosting, and Karola Metze and Verena Siol for assistance. ML is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG Li 2405); HZ by the New York Institute of Technology, Sanford Research, Matthew Larson Foundation, Institutional Development Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences under grant numbers 5P20GM103548, 1P20GM103620-01A1, and the National Cancer Institute (R01CA220551); FB by Wilhelm-Sander-Stiftung (2016.041.1); AKG by the Max Planck Society. We thank Heymut Omran’s group for introduction to cilia microscopy and Travis Stracker for disclosure of nonpublished data.

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MeW and TE characterized cilia defects and gene expression and generated figures. MeW and MaW validated TAp73 targets by WB and ChIP. EE and FB contributed IF analysis of human epididymis. EE performed cilia quantification on tracheae. DR performed electron microscopy analysis. CW and SB maintained mice. CW performed RNA isolations and qPCRs. LV-H and SB contributed to western blot analysis of different tissues. ZH performed RNAscope analysis for TAp73 on diverse tissues. KBG, JZ, LL, and HZ contributed brain analyses. A-KG analyzed ex vivo ciliary beating. OS analyzed small RNA sequencing data. SA contributed to interpretation and supported the group. ML developed the project, interpreted the data, designed and coordinated the experiments to complete this study. MeW, TE, HZ, and ML were major contributors to manuscript preparation.

Correspondence to Haotian Zhao or Muriel Lizé.

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Wildung, M., Esser, T.U., Grausam, K.B. et al. Transcription factor TAp73 and microRNA-449 complement each other to support multiciliogenesis. Cell Death Differ 26, 2740–2757 (2019).

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