Expression of the hormone secretin in enteroendocrine cells is restricted to the nondividing villus compartment of the intestine, implying that terminal differentiation is linked to cell cycle arrest and that differentiation is repressed in actively proliferating cells. We have shown previously that the basic helix-loop-helix protein, BETA2/NeuroD, induces cell cycle withdrawal in addition to increasing secretin gene expression. A number of transcription factors important for differentiation are repressed by D cyclins. Repression by D cyclins appears to be independent of its effects on the cell cycle. We show that cyclin D1 represses BETA2/NeuroD-dependent transcription of the secretin gene. Examination of cyclin box mutants shows that repression is unrelated to Cdk4 activation. Although cyclin D1 and BETA2 associate in vivo, they do not directly interact. Cyclin D1 may be recruited to BETA2 by binding to the C-terminal domain of the p300 coactivator, downstream from the BETA2-binding site. In the small intestine, cyclin D1 expression occurs only in the actively proliferating crypts of Lieberkuhn but not in villi. Thus repression by cyclin D1 may serve to prevent secretin gene transcription from occurring in relatively immature epithelial progenitor cells.
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