Downregulation of EZH2 decreases growth of estrogen receptor-negative invasive breast carcinoma and requires BRCA1.
ABSTRACT: Increased levels of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2), a critical regulator of cellular memory, are associated with negative estrogen receptor (ER) expression and disease progression in breast cancer. High levels of EZH2 signal the presence of metastasis and poor outcome in breast cancer patients. To test the hypothesis that deregulation of EZH2 contributes to ER-negative breast cancer progression, EZH2 expression was inhibited in ER-negative breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231 and CAL51 using a lentivirus system. EZH2 knockdown decreased proliferation and delayed the G(2)/M cell-cycle transition, although not affecting apoptosis. In vivo, EZH2 downregulation significantly decreased breast xenograft growth and improved survival. EZH2 knockdown upregulated BRCA1 protein. Of note, BRCA1 knockdown was sufficient to rescue the effects of EZH2 downregulation on proliferation, G(2)/M arrest, and on the levels of hyperphosphorylated mitotic Cdc25C and Cyclin B1 proteins, crucial for entry into mitosis. Invasive ER-negative breast carcinomas show significant overexpression of EZH2 and downregulation of BRCA1 proteins. Taken together, we show that EZH2 is important in ER-negative breast cancer growth in vivo and in vitro, and that BRCA1 is required for the proliferative effects of EZH2. Blockade of EZH2 may provide a prime target to prevent and/or halt ER-negative breast cancer progression.
Project description:Increased levels of EZH2, a critical regulator of cellular memory, signal the presence of metastasis and poor outcome in breast cancer patients. High levels of EZH2 are associated with nuclear pleomorphism, lack of estrogen receptor expression, and decreased nuclear levels of BRCA1 tumor suppressor protein in invasive breast carcinomas. The mechanism by which EZH2 overexpression promotes the growth of poorly differentiated invasive carcinomas remains to be defined. Here, we show that EZH2 controls the intracellular localization of BRCA1 protein. Conditional doxycycline-induced upregulation of EZH2 in benign mammary epithelial cells results in nuclear export of BRCA1 protein, aberrant mitoses with extra centrosomes, and genomic instability. EZH2 inhibition in CAL51 breast cancer cells induces BRCA1 nuclear localization and rescues defects in ploidy and mitosis. Mechanistically, EZH2 overexpression is sufficient for activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/Akt) pathway specifically through activation of Akt isoform 1. EZH2-induced BRCA1 nuclear export, aneuploidy, and mitotic defects were prevented by treatment with the PI3K inhibitors LY294002 or wortmannin. Targeted inhibition of Akt-1, Akt-2, and Akt-3 isoforms revealed that the EZH2-induced phenotype requires specific activation of Akt-1. The relevance of our studies to human breast cancer is highlighted by the finding that high EZH2 protein levels are associated with upregulated expression of phospho-Akt-1 (Ser473) and decreased nuclear expression of phospho-BRCA1 (Ser1423) in 39% of invasive breast carcinomas. These results enable us to pinpoint one mechanism by which EZH2 regulates BRCA1 expression and genomic stability mediated by the PI3K/Akt-1 pathway.
Project description:FOXA1 expression correlates with the breast cancer luminal subtype and patient survival. RNA and protein analysis of a panel of breast cancer cell lines revealed that BRCA1 deficiency is associated with the downregulation of FOXA1 expression. Knockdown of BRCA1 resulted in the downregulation of FOXA1 expression and enhancement of FOXA1 promoter methylation in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, whereas the reconstitution of BRCA1 in Brca1-deficent mouse mammary epithelial cells (MMECs) promoted Foxa1 expression and methylation. These data suggest that BRCA1 suppresses FOXA1 hypermethylation and silencing. Consistently, the treatment of MMECs with the DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycitydine induced Foxa1 mRNA expression. Furthermore, treatment with GSK126, an inhibitor of EZH2 methyltransferase activity, induced FOXA1 expression in BRCA1-deficient but not in BRCA1-reconstituted MMECs. Likewise, the depletion of EZH2 by small interfering RNA enhanced FOXA1 mRNA expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis demonstrated that BRCA1, EZH2, DNA methyltransferases (DNMT)1/3a/3b and H3K27me3 are recruited to the endogenous FOXA1 promoter, further supporting the hypothesis that these proteins interact to modulate FOXA1 methylation and repression. Further co-immunoprecipitation and ChIP analysis showed that both BRCA1 and DNMT3b form complexes with EZH2 but not with each other, consistent with the notion that BRCA1 binds to EZH2 and negatively regulates its methyltransferase activity. We also found that EZH2 promotes and BRCA1 impairs the deposit of the gene silencing histone mark H3K27me3 on the FOXA1 promoter. These associations were validated in a familial breast cancer patient cohort. Integrated analysis of the global gene methylation and expression profiles of a set of 33 familial breast tumours revealed that FOXA1 promoter methylation is inversely correlated with the transcriptional expression of FOXA1 and that BRCA1 mutation breast cancer is significantly associated with FOXA1 methylation and downregulation of FOXA1 expression, providing physiological evidence to our findings that FOXA1 expression is regulated by methylation and chromatin silencing and that BRCA1 maintains FOXA1 expression through suppressing FOXA1 gene methylation in breast cancer.
Project description:BRCA1 mutation or depletion correlates with basal-like phenotype and poor prognosis in breast cancer but the underlying reason remains elusive. RNA and protein analysis of a panel of breast cancer cell lines revealed that BRCA1 deficiency is associated with downregulation of the expression of the pleiotropic tumour suppressor FOXO3. Knockdown of BRCA1 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) resulted in downregulation of FOXO3 expression in the BRCA1-competent MCF-7, whereas expression of BRCA1 restored FOXO3 expression in BRCA1-defective HCC70 and MDA-MB-468 cells, suggesting a role of BRCA1 in the control of FOXO3 expression. Treatment of HCC70 and MDA-MB-468 cells with either the DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycitydine, the N-methyltransferase enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2) inhibitor GSK126 or EZH2 siRNA induced FOXO3 mRNA and protein expression, but had no effect on the BRCA1-competent MCF-7 cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis demonstrated that BRCA1, EZH2, DNMT1/3a/b and histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) are recruited to the endogenous FOXO3 promoter, further advocating that these proteins interact to modulate FOXO3 methylation and expression. In addition, ChIP results also revealed that BRCA1 depletion promoted the recruitment of the DNA methyltransferases DNMT1/3a/3b and the enrichment of the EZH2-mediated transcriptional repressive epigenetic marks H3K27me3 on the FOXO3 promoter. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation assays also confirmed increased CpG methylation of the FOXO3 gene on BRCA1 depletion. Analysis of the global gene methylation profiles of a cohort of 33 familial breast tumours revealed that FOXO3 promoter methylation is significantly associated with BRCA1 mutation. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry further suggested that FOXO3 expression was significantly associated with BRCA1 status in EZH2-positive breast cancer. Consistently, high FOXO3 and EZH2 mRNA levels were significantly associated with good and poor prognosis in breast cancer, respectively. Together, these data suggest that BRCA1 can prevent and reverse FOXO3 suppression via inhibiting EZH2 and, consequently, its ability to recruit the transcriptional repressive H3K27me3 histone marks and the DNA methylases DNMT1/3a/3b, to induce DNA methylation and gene silencing on the FOXO3 promoter.
Project description:Estrogen promotes breast cancer development and progression mainly through estrogen receptor (ER). However, blockage of estrogen production or action prevents development of and suppresses progression of ER-negative breast cancers. How estrogen promotes ER-negative breast cancer development and progression is poorly understood. We previously discovered that deletion of cell cycle inhibitors p16Ink4a (p16) or p18Ink4c (p18) is required for development of Brca1-deficient basal-like mammary tumors, and that mice lacking p18 develop luminal-type mammary tumors.A genetic model system with three mouse strains, one that develops ER-positive mammary tumors (p18 single deletion) and the others that develop ER-negative tumors (p16;Brca1 and p18;Brca1 compound deletion), human BRCA1 mutant breast cancer patient-derived xenografts, and human BRCA1-deficient and BRCA1-proficient breast cancer cells were used to determine the role of estrogen in activating epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), stimulating cell proliferation, and promoting ER-negative mammary tumor initiation and metastasis.Estrogen stimulated the proliferation and tumor-initiating potential of both ER-positive Brca1-proficient and ER-negative Brca1-deficient tumor cells. Estrogen activated EMT in a subset of Brca1-deficient mammary tumor cells that maintained epithelial features, and enhanced the number of cancer stem cells, promoting tumor progression and metastasis. Estrogen activated EMT independent of ER in Brca1-deficient, but not Brca1-proficient, tumor cells. Estrogen activated the AKT pathway in BRCA1-deficient tumor cells independent of ER, and pharmaceutical inhibition of AKT activity suppressed EMT and cell proliferation preventing BRCA1 deficient tumor progression.This study reveals for the first time that estrogen promotes BRCA1-deficient tumor initiation and progression by stimulation of cell proliferation and activation of EMT, which are dependent on AKT activation and independent of ER.
Project description:The progression from preinvasive lesion to invasive carcinoma is a critical step contributing to breast cancer lethality. We identified downregulation of milk fat globule-EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8) as a contributor to breast cancer progression using microarray analysis of laser capture microdissected (LCM) tissues. We first identified MFG-E8 downregulation in invasive lesions in transgenic mammary tumor models, which were confirmed in LCM-isolated human invasive ductal carcinomas compared with patient-matched normal tissues. In situ analyses of MFG-E8 expression in estrogen receptor (ER) positive cases confirmed its downregulation during breast cancer progression and small inhibitory MFG-E8 RNAs accelerated ER(+) breast cancer cell proliferation. MFG-E8 also decreased in erbB2(+) human cancers and erbB2 transgenic mice lacking MFG-E8 showed accelerated tumor formation. In contrast, MFG-E8 expression was present at high levels in triple-negative (ER(-), PgR(-), erbB2(-)) breast cancers, cell lines, and patient sera. Knockdown, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and reporter assays all showed that p63 regulates MFG-E8 expression, and MFG-E8 knockdowns sensitized triple-negative breast cancers to cisplatin treatment. Taken together, our results show that MFG-E8 is expressed in triple-negative breast cancers as a target gene of the p63 pathway, but may serve a suppressive function in ER(+) and erbB2(+) breast cancers. Its potential use as a serum biomarker that contributes to the pathogenesis of triple-negative breast cancers urges continued evaluation of its differential functions.
Project description:Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) catalyzes trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) and its demethylation is catalyzed by UTX. EZH2 levels are frequently elevated in breast cancer and have been proposed to control gene expression through regulating repressive H3K27me3 marks. However, it is not fully established whether breast cancers with different levels of H3K27me3, EZH2 and UTX exhibit different biological behaviors. Levels of H3K27me3, EZH2 and UTX and their prognostic significance were evaluated in 146 cases of breast cancer. H3K27me3 levels were higher in HER2-negative samples. EZH2 expression was higher in cancers that were LN+, size?>?20mm, and with higher tumor grade and stage. Using a Cox regression model, H3K27me3 levels and EZH2 expression were identified as independent prognostic factors for overall survival for all the breast cancers studied as well as the ER-positive subgroup. The combination of low H3K27me3 and high EZH2 expression levels were significantly associated with shorter survival. UTX expression was not significantly associated with prognosis and there were no correlations between H3K27me3 levels and EZH2/UTX expression. To determine if EZH2 is required to establish H3K27me3 marks in mammary cancer, Brca1 and Ezh2 were deleted in mammary stem cells in mice. Brca1-deficient mammary cancers with unaltered H3K27me3 levels developed in the absence of EZH2, demonstrating that EZH2 is not a mandatory H3K27 methyltransferase in mammary neoplasia and providing genetic evidence for biological independence between H3K27me3 and EZH2 in this tissue.
Project description:Treatment of breast cancer is becoming more individualized with the recognition of tumor subgroups that respond differently to available therapies. Breast cancer 1 gene (BRCA1)-deficient tumors are usually of the basal subtype and associated with poor survival rates, highlighting the need for more effective therapy.We investigated a mouse model that closely mimics breast cancer arising in BRCA1-mutation carriers to better understand the molecular mechanism of tumor progression and tested whether targeting of the Polycomb-group protein EZH2 would be a putative therapy for BRCA1-deficient tumors.Gene expression analysis demonstrated that EZH2 is overexpressed in BRCA1-deficient mouse mammary tumors. By immunohistochemistry we show that an increase in EZH2 protein levels is also evident in tumors from BRCA1-mutation carriers. EZH2 is responsible for repression of genes driving differentiation and could thus be involved in the undifferentiated phenotype of these tumors. Importantly, we show that BRCA1-deficient cancer cells are selectively dependent on their elevated EZH2 levels. In addition, a chemical inhibitor of EZH2, 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep), is about 20-fold more effective in killing BRCA1-deficient cells compared to BRCA1-proficient mammary tumor cells.We demonstrate by specific knock-down experiments that EZH2 overexpression is functionally relevant in BRCA1-deficient breast cancer cells. The effectiveness of a small molecule inhibitor indicates that EZH2 is a druggable target. The overexpression of EZH2 in all basal-like breast cancers warrants further investigation of the potential for targeting the genetic make-up of this particular breast cancer type.
Project description:Both EZH2 and NF-?B contribute to aggressive breast cancer, yet whether the two oncogenic factors have functional cross-talk in breast cancer is largely unknown. Here, we uncover an unexpected role of EZH2 in conferring the constitutive activation of NF-?B target gene expression in ER-negative basal-like breast cancer cells. This function of EZH2 is independent of its histone methyltransferase activity but requires the physical interaction with RelA/RelB to promote the expression of NF-?B targets. Intriguingly, EZH2 acts oppositely in repressing NF-?B targets in ER-positive luminal-like breast cancer cells by interacting with ER and directing repressive histone methylation. Thus, EZH2 function as a double-facet molecule in breast cancers, functioning either as a transcriptional activator or repressor of NF-?B targets, in a cell context-dependent manner. These findings reveals an additional mechanism by which EZH2 promotes breast cancer progression and also underscore the need for developing context-specific strategy for therapeutic targeting of EZH2 in breast cancers. 12 samples were analyzed including three replicates of siNC CTRL and siEZH2 CTRL.
Project description:The Polycomb-repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is important for maintenance of stem cell pluripotency and suppression of cell differentiation by promoting histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) and transcriptional repression of differentiation genes. Here we show that the tumour-suppressor protein BRCA1 interacts with the Polycomb protein EZH2 in mouse embryonic stem (ES) and human breast cancer cells. The BRCA1-binding region in EZH2 overlaps with the noncoding RNA (ncRNA)-binding domain, and BRCA1 expression inhibits the binding of EZH2 to the HOTAIR ncRNA. Decreased expression of BRCA1 causes genome-wide EZH2 re-targeting and elevates H3K27me3 levels at PRC2 target loci in both mouse ES and human breast cancer cells. BRCA1 deficiency blocks ES cell differentiation and enhances breast cancer migration and invasion in an EZH2-dependent manner. These results reveal that BRCA1 is a key negative modulator of PRC2 and that loss of BRCA1 inhibits ES cell differentiation and enhances an aggressive breast cancer phenotype by affecting PRC2 function.
Project description:BRCA1-deficient breast cancer is a very well-known hereditary cancer. However, except for resection of normal mammary glands and ovaries, there is no acceptable measure for proactively preventing tumor development. Importantly, inherited BRCA1 mutations are closely associated with tumors in hormone-responsive tissues. Here, we examined the effects of estrogen on the accumulation of genetic instabilities upon loss of BRCA1, and assessed the contribution of estrogen signaling to the incidence and progression of Brca1-mutated mammary tumors. Our in vitro studies showed that treatment of BRCA1-depleted breast cancer cells with estrogen induced proliferation. Additionally, estrogen reduced the ability of these BRCA1-knockdown cells to sense radiation-induced DNA damage and also facilitated G1/S progression. Moreover, long-term treatment of Brca1-mutant (Brca1co/coMMTV-Cre) mice with the selective estrogen receptor (ER)-? degrader, fulvestrant, decreased the tumor formation rate from 64% to 36%, and also significantly reduced mammary gland density in non-tumor-bearing mice. However, in vivo experiments showed that fulvestrant treatment did not alter the progression of ER-positive Brca1-mutant tumors, which were frequently identified in the aged population and showed less aggressive tendencies. These findings enhance our understanding of how ER-? signaling contributes to BRCA1-deficient mammary tumors and provide evidence suggesting that targeted inhibition of ER-? signaling may be useful for the prevention of BRCA1-mutated breast cancer.