Sasse SK, Mailloux CM, Barczak AJ, Wang Q, Altonsy MO, Jain MK, Haldar SM, Gerber AN
The glucocorticoid receptor (GR) regulates adaptive transcriptional programs that alter metabolism in response to stress. Network properties that allow GR to tune gene expression to match specific physiologic demands are poorly understood. We analyzed the transcriptional consequences of GR activation in murine lungs deficient for KLF15, a transcriptional regulator of amino acid metabolism that is induced by glucocorticoids and fasting. Approximately 7% of glucocorticoid-regulated genes had altered expression in Klf15-knockdown (Klf15(-/-)) mice. KLF15 formed coherent and incoherent feed-forward circuits with GR that correlated with the expression dynamics of the glucocorticoid response. Coherent feed-forward gene regulation by GR and KLF15 was characterized by combinatorial activation of linked GR-KLF15 regulatory elements by both factors and increased GR occupancy, while expression of KLF15 reduced GR occupancy at the incoherent target, MT2A. Serum deprivation, which increased KLF15 expression in a GR-independent manner in vitro, enhanced glucocorticoid-mediated induction of feed-forward targets of GR and KLF15, such as the loci for the amino acid-metabolizing enzymes proline dehydrogenase and alpha-aminoadipic semialdehyde synthase. Our results establish feed-forward architecture as an organizational principle for the GR network and provide a novel mechanism through which GR integrates signals and regulates expression dynamics.