Mieczkowska IK et al.
Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer occurring in women but also rarely develops in men. Recent advances in early diagnosis and development of targeted therapies have greatly improved the survival rate of BC patients. However, the basal-like BC subtype (BLBC), largely overlapping with the triple-negative BC subtype (TNBC), lacks such drug targets and conventional cytotoxic chemotherapies often remain the only treatment option. Thus, the development of resistance to cytotoxic therapies has fatal consequences. To assess the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms and their therapeutic potential increasing cytotoxic drug efficiency, we combined high-throughput RNA- and ChIP-sequencing analyses in BLBC cells. Tumor cells surviving chemotherapy upregulated transcriptional programs of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and stemness. To our surprise, the same cells showed a pronounced reduction of polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) activity via downregulation of its subunits Ezh2, Suz12, Rbbp7 and Mtf2. Mechanistically, loss of PRC2 activity leads to the de-repression of a set of genes through an epigenetic switch from repressive H3K27me3 to activating H3K27ac mark at regulatory regions. We identified Nfatc1 as an upregulated gene upon loss of PRC2 activity and directly implicated in the transcriptional changes happening upon survival to chemotherapy. Blocking NFATc1 activation reduced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, aggressiveness, and therapy resistance of BLBC cells. Our data demonstrate a previously unknown function of PRC2 maintaining low Nfatc1 expression levels and thereby repressing aggressiveness and therapy resistance in BLBC.
Microplex Library Preparation kit
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