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Cancer research

Activation of SOX2 expression by BRD4-NUT oncogenic fusion drives neoplastic transformation in NUT midline carcinoma.


PMID 24736545

Abstract

BRD4 is implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of different cancers. It is also the target of translocation t(15;19) that accounts for the highly aggressive NUT midline carcinoma (NMC). We discovered that t(15;19) NMC cells display the ability to grow into stem cell-like spheres and express an exceptionally high level of the stem cell marker, SOX2. The BRD4-NUT fusion oncogene resulting from t(15;19) translocation is required for the abnormal activation of SOX2, which drives the stem cell-like proliferation and cellular transformation in NMC cells. SOX2 knockdown phenocopies the effects of BRD4-NUT inhibition, whereas ectopic SOX2 expression rescues the phenotype. The BRD4-NUT-induced abnormal SOX2 activation was observed in multiple NMC cell lines as well as in NMC primary tumors. We further demonstrate that BRD4-NUT oncoprotein recruits p300 to stimulate transcription activation and that inhibition of p300 represses SOX2 transcription in NMC cells. These studies identify this stem cell marker as a novel BRD4-NUT target that supports the highly aggressive transforming activity of t(15;19) carcinomas. Our study provides new mechanistic insights for understanding how alteration of BRD4 function by BRD4-NUT oncogene leads to the highly malignant NMC carcinoma. Because abnormal stem cell self-renewal is frequently observed during tumor formation and metastasis, the aberrant stem cell-like proliferation associated with BRD4 dysregulation observed in NMC carcinoma may have implications for studying the oncogenic mechanism of other BRD4-associated tumors.

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