Endocrine regulation of uterine biology is critical for embryo receptivity and human reproduction. Uterine endometrium depends on extrinsic sex steroid input and hence likely has mechanisms that enable adaptation to hormonal variation. Emerging evidence suggests that sex steroid bioavailability in the endometrium is determined by adjusting their metabolic rate and fate via regulation of cytochrome (CYP) p450 enzymes. The CYP enzymes are targeted by ubiquitously expressed Sp/Krüppel-like (Sp/KLF) transcription factors. Specifically, KLF11 is highly expressed in reproductive tissues, regulates an array of endocrine/metabolic pathways via epigenetic histone-based mechanisms and, when aberrantly expressed, is associated with diabetes and reproductive tract diseases, such as leiomyoma and endometriosis. Using KLF11 as a model to investigate epigenetic regulation of endometrial first-pass metabolism, we evaluated the expression of a comprehensive array of metabolic enzymes in Ishikawa cells. KLF11 repressed most endometrial CYP enzymes. To characterize KLF11-recruited epigenetic regulatory mechanisms, we focused on the estrogen-metabolizing enzyme CYP3A4. KLF11 expression declined in secretory phase endometrial epithelium associated with increased CYP3A4 expression. Additionally, KLF11 bound to CYP3A4 promoter GC elements and thereby repressed promoter, message, protein as well as enzymatic function. This repression was epigenetically mediated, because KLF11 colocalized with and recruited the corepressor SIN3A/histone deacetylase resulting in selective deacetylation of the CYP3A4 promoter. Repression was reversed by a mutation in KLF11 that abrogated cofactor recruitment and binding. This repression was also pharmacologically reversible with an histone deacetylase inhibitor. Pharmacological alteration of endometrial metabolism could have long-term translational implications on human reproduction and uterine disease.
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