Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a member of the KLF zinc-finger containing transcription factor family. Supporting evidence has established that KLF4 is either an oncogene or a tumor suppressor. Reported studies have indicated the involvement of KLF4 in the regulation of apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation of B cells and B-cell malignancies. In contrast to adult lymphomas and solid tumors, recently, we have shown in a TMA the overexpression of KLF4 in pediatric NHL tumor tissues. The KLF4 overexpresion predicted unresponsiveness to CHOP treatment. In addition, we have also reported that the transcription factor Yin Yang 1 (YY1) is overexpressed in B-NHL and is a prognostic factor. We hypothesized that the coexpression of KLF4 and YY1 may result from the transcriptional regulation of KLF4 by YY1. This hypothesis was tested in various experimental designs both in cell lines and tumor tissues derived from patients. Analysis of the B-NHL cell line Ramos revealed that both KLF4 and YY1 are overexpressed compared to normal B cells. The transfection of Ramos with siRNA YY1 showed significant inhibition of KLF4. In silico analyses of the KLF4 promoter identified the presence of four putative binding sites for YY1. We confirmed that the -126 site as the binding site for YY1 by CHIP analysis. We also used a reporter system of the KLF4 promoter and mutated the putative binding site for YY1 (-126) and confirmed it as an important site for the regulation of KLF4. The co-expressions of KLF4 and YY1 were examined in TMA of pediatric lymphomas and showed by IHC that all of the tumor tissues exhibited a positive correlation of the expressions of KLF4 and YY1 and the correlation was markedly significant in the Burkitt subtype. These correlations were consistent with the bioinformatics analyses due by ONCOMINE in several data base. KLF4 acts as a transcriptional activator of epithelial genes and as a repressor of mesenchymal genes. In addition, KLF4 suppresses the extrinsic apoptotic pathway by inhibiting the activation and cleavage of caspases (7, 9, and 3). Thus, the overexpression of KLF4 in lymphoma may be responsible, in part, in the pathogenesis, malignancy, and drug resistance. The putative function of KLF4 was examined by the use of chemical inhibitors for KLF4 (Kenpaullone) and inhibition of KLF4 resulted in the inhibition of cell proliferation and the spontaneous induction of apoptosis. The present findings suggest that both KLF4 and YY1 are prognostic biomarkers for pediatric lymphoma and are also potential therapeutic targets.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.