Analysis of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 bivalent promotors in HER2+ breast cancer cell lines reveals variations depending on estrogen receptor status and significantly correlates with gene expression.
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Background: The role of histone modifications is poorly characterized in breast cancer, especially within the major subtypes. While epigenetic modifications may enhance the adaptability of a cell to both therapy and the surrounding environment, the mechanisms by which this is accomplished remains unclear. In this study we focus on the HER2 subtype and investigate two histone trimethylations that occur on the histone 3; the trimethylation located at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) found in active promoters and the trimethylation located at lysine 27 (H3K27me3) that correlates with gene repression. A bivalency state is the result of the co-presence of these two marks at the same promoter.
Methods: In this study we investigated the relationship between these histone modifications in promoter regions and their proximal gene expression in HER2+ breast cancer cell lines. In addition, we assessed these patterns with respect to the presence or absence of the estrogen receptor (ER). To do this, we utilized ChIP-seq and matching RNA-seq from publicly available data for the AU565, SKBR3, MB361 and UACC812 cell lines. In order to visualize these relationships, we used KEGG pathway enrichment analysis, and Kaplan-Meyer plots.
Results: We found that the correlation between the three types of promoter trimethylation statuses (H3K4me3, H3K27me3 or both) and the expression of the proximal genes was highly significant overall, while roughly a third of all genes are regulated by this phenomenon. We also show that there are several pathways related to cancer progression and invasion that are associated with the bivalent status of the gene promoters, and that there are specific differences between ER+ and ER- HER2+ breast cancer cell lines. These specific differences that are differentially trimethylated are also shown to be differentially expressed in patient samples. One of these genes, HIF1AN, significantly correlates with patient outcome.
Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of looking at epigenetic markings at a subtype specific level by characterizing the relationship between the bivalent promoters and gene expression. This provides a deeper insight into a mechanism that could lead to future targets for treatment and prognosis, along with oncogenesis and response to therapy of HER2+ breast cancer patients.
CommentsThe original article is available at www.biomedcentral.com
Published CitationKaukonen D, Kaukonen R, Polit L, Hennessy BT, Lund R, Madden SF. Analysis of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 bivalent promotors in HER2+ breast cancer cell lines reveals variations depending on estrogen receptor status and significantly correlates with gene expression. BMC Medical Genomics. 2020; 13:92
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