MEIS2 has an important role in development and organogenesis, and is implicated in the pathogenesis of human cancer. The molecular basis of MEIS2 action in tumorigenesis is not clear. Here, we show that MEIS2 is highly expressed in human neuroblastoma cell lines and is required for neuroblastoma cell survival and proliferation. Depletion of MEIS2 in neuroblastoma cells leads to M-phase arrest and mitotic catastrophe, whereas ectopic expression of MEIS2 markedly enhances neuroblastoma cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumorigenicity. Gene expression profiling reveals an essential role of MEIS2 in maintaining the expression of a large number of late cell-cycle genes, including those required for DNA replication, G2-M checkpoint control and M-phase progression. Importantly, we identify MEIS2 as a transcription activator of the MuvB-BMYB-FOXM1 complex that functions as a master regulator of cell-cycle gene expression. Further, we show that FOXM1 is a direct target gene of MEIS2 and is required for MEIS2 to upregulate mitotic genes. These findings link a developmentally important gene to the control of cell proliferation and suggest that high MEIS2 expression is a molecular mechanism for high expression of mitotic genes that is frequently observed in cancers of poor prognosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research