Simon C. et al.
The unmethylated CpG island-binding protein SAMD1 is upregulated in many human cancer types, but its cancer-related role has not yet been investigated. Here, we used the hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2 as a cancer model and investigated the cellular and transcriptional roles of SAMD1 using ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq. SAMD1 targets several thousand gene promoters, where it acts predominantly as a transcriptional repressor. HepG2 cells with SAMD1 deletion showed slightly reduced proliferation, but strongly impaired clonogenicity. This phenotype was accompanied by the decreased expression of pro-proliferative genes, including MYC target genes. Consistently, we observed a decrease in the active H3K4me2 histone mark at most promoters, irrespective of SAMD1 binding. Conversely, we noticed an increase in interferon response pathways and a gain of H3K4me2 at a subset of enhancers that were enriched for IFN-stimulated response elements (ISREs). We identified key transcription factor genes, such as , , and , that were directly repressed by SAMD1. Moreover, SAMD1 deletion also led to the derepression of the PI3K-inhibitor , contributing to diminished mTOR signaling and ribosome biogenesis pathways. Our work suggests that SAMD1 is involved in establishing a pro-proliferative setting in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Inhibiting SAMD1's function in liver cancer cells may therefore lead to a more favorable gene signature.