GRHL2-controlled gene expression networks in luminal breast cancer

Zi Wang, Bircan Coban, Haoyu Wu, Jihed Chouaref, Lucia Daxinger, Michelle T. Paulsen, Mats Ljungman, Marcel Smid, John W.M. Martens, Erik H.J. Danen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Grainyhead like 2 (GRHL2) is an essential transcription factor for development and function of epithelial tissues. It has dual roles in cancer by supporting tumor growth while suppressing epithelial to mesenchymal transitions (EMT). GRHL2 cooperates with androgen and estrogen receptors (ER) to regulate gene expression. We explore genome wide GRHL2 binding sites conserved in three ER⍺/GRHL2 positive luminal breast cancer cell lines by ChIP-Seq. Interaction with the ER⍺/FOXA1/GATA3 complex is observed, however, only for a minor fraction of conserved GRHL2 peaks. We determine genome wide transcriptional dynamics in response to loss of GRHL2 by nascent RNA Bru-seq using an MCF7 conditional knockout model. Integration of ChIP- and Bru-seq pinpoints candidate direct GRHL2 target genes in luminal breast cancer. Multiple connections between GRHL2 and proliferation are uncovered, including transcriptional activation of ETS and E2F transcription factors. Among EMT-related genes, direct regulation of CLDN4 is corroborated but several targets identified in other cells (including CDH1 and ZEB1) are ruled out by both ChIP- and Bru-seq as being directly controlled by GRHL2 in luminal breast cancer cells. Gene clusters correlating positively (including known GRHL2 targets such as ErbB3, CLDN4/7) or negatively (including TGFB1 and TGFBR2) with GRHL2 in the MCF7 knockout model, display similar correlation with GRHL2 in ER positive as well as ER negative breast cancer patients. Altogether, this study uncovers gene sets regulated directly or indirectly by GRHL2 in luminal breast cancer, identifies novel GRHL2-regulated genes, and points to distinct GRHL2 regulation of EMT in luminal breast cancer cells. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Zi Wang was supported by a Grant from the China Scholarship Council. Bircan Coban was supported by the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Research Grant #10967).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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