Grainyhead-like 2 inhibits the coactivator p300, suppressing tubulogenesis and the epithelial–mesenchymal transition

Developmental morphogenesis and tumor progression require a transient or stable breakdown of epithelial junctional complexes to permit programmed migration, invasion, and anoikis resistance, characteristics endowed by the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). The epithelial master-regulatory transcription factor Grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2) suppresses and reverses EMT, causing a mesenchymal–epithelial transition to the default epithelial phenotype. Here we investigated the role of GRHL2 in tubulogenesis of Madin–Darby canine kidney cells, a process requiring transient, partial EMT. GRHL2 was required for cystogenesis, but it suppressed tubulogenesis in response to hepatocyte growth factor. Surprisingly, GRHL2 suppressed this process by inhibiting the histone acetyltransferase coactivator p300, preventing the induction of matrix metalloproteases and other p300-dependent genes required for tubulogenesis. A 13–amino acid region of GRHL2 was necessary for inhibition of p300, suppression of tubulogenesis, and interference with EMT. The results demonstrate that p300 is required for partial or complete EMT occurring in tubulogenesis or tumor progression and that GRHL2 suppresses EMT in both contexts through inhibition of p300.