Eutherians are often mistakenly termed 'placental mammals', but marsupials also have a placenta to mediate early embryonic development. Lactation is necessary for both infant and fetal development in eutherians and marsupials, although marsupials have a far more complex milk repertoire that facilitates morphogenesis of developmentally immature young. In this study, we demonstrate that the anatomically simple tammar placenta expresses a dynamic molecular program that is reminiscent of eutherian placentation, including both fetal and maternal signals. Further, we provide evidence that genes facilitating fetal development and nutrient transport display convergent co-option by placental and mammary gland cell types to optimize offspring success.
The molecular mechanisms underlying the opposing functions of glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and estrogen receptor α (ERα) in breast cancer development remain poorly understood. Here we report that, in breast cancer cells, liganded GR represses a large ERα-activated transcriptional program by binding, in trans, to ERα-occupied enhancers. This abolishes effective activation of these enhancers and their cognate target genes, and it leads to the inhibition of ERα-dependent binding of components of the MegaTrans complex. Consistent with the effects of SUMOylation on other classes of nuclear receptors, dexamethasone (Dex)-induced trans-repression of the estrogen E2 program appears to depend on GR SUMOylation, which leads to stable trans-recruitment of the GR-N-CoR/SMRT-HDAC3 corepressor complex on these enhancers. Together, these results uncover a mechanism by which competitive recruitment of DNA-binding nuclear receptors/transcription factors in trans to hot spot enhancers serves as an effective biological strategy for trans-repression, with clear implications for breast cancer and other diseases.