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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The MEF2B regulatory network Pon, Julia


Myocyte enhancer factor 2B (MEF2B) is a transcription factor with somatic mutation hotspots at K4, Y69 and D83 in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and follicular lymphoma. The recurrence of these mutations indicates that they may drive lymphoma development. However, inferring the mechanisms by which they may drive lymphoma development was complicated by our limited understanding of MEF2B’s normal functions. To expand our understanding of the cellular activities of wildtype and mutant MEF2B, I developed and addressed two hypotheses: (1) identifying genes regulated by wildtype MEF2B will allow identification of cellular phenotypes affected by MEF2B activity and (2) contrasting the DNA binding sites, effects on gene expression and effects on cellular phenotypes of mutant and wildtype MEF2B will indicate mechanisms through which MEF2B mutations may contribute to lymphoma development. To address these hypotheses, I first identified genome-wide MEF2B binding sites and transcriptome-wide gene expression changes mediated by MEF2B. Using these data I identified and validated novel MEF2B target genes. I found that target genes of MEF2B included the cancer genes MYC, TGFB1, CARD11, NDRG1, RHOB, BCL2 and JUN. The identification of target genes led to findings that MEF2B promotes expression of mesenchymal markers, promotes HEK293A cell migration, and inhibits DLBCL cell chemotaxis. I then investigated how K4E, Y69H and D83V mutations change MEF2B’s activity. I found that K4E, Y69H and D83V mutations decreased MEF2B’s capacity to promote gene expression in both HEK293A and DLBCL cells. These mutations also reduced MEF2B’s capacity to alter HEK293A and DLBCL cell movement. Overall, these data support the concept that MEF2B mutations may promote lymphoma development by reducing expression of MEF2B target genes that would otherwise function to help confine germinal centre B-cells to germinal centres. My research demonstrates how observations from genome-scale data can aid in the functional characterization of candidate driver mutations. Moreover, my work provides a unique resource for exploring the role of MEF2B in cell biology. I map for the first time the MEF2B regulome, demonstrating connections between a relatively understudied transcription factor and genes significant to oncogenesis.

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