Cell-cell contact regulates the proliferation and differentiation of non-transformed cells, e.g., NIH/3T3 cells show growth arrest at high cell density. However, only a few reports described the dynamic behavior of transcription factors involved in this process. In this study, we showed that the mRNA levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) decreased drastically at high cell density, and that ELK3, a member of the Ets transcription factor family, repressed PAI-1 expression. We also demonstrated that while ELK3 was distributed evenly throughout the cell at low cell density, it accumulated in the nucleus at high cell density, and that binding of DNA by ELK3 at the A domain facilitated its nuclear accumulation. Furthermore, we found that ETS1, a PAI-1 activator, occupied the ELK3-binding site within the PAI-1 promoter at low cell density, while it was released at high cell density. These results suggest that at high cell density, the switching of binding of transcription factors from ETS1 to ELK3 occurs at a specific binding site of the PAI-1 promoter, leading to the cell-density dependent suppression of PAI-1 expression.
2013 by Japan Society for Cell Biology