Genomic analysis of estrogen cascade reveals histone variant H2A.Z associated with breast cancer progression

Mol Syst Biol. 2008:4:188. doi: 10.1038/msb.2008.25. Epub 2008 Apr 15.


We demonstrate an integrated approach to the study of a transcriptional regulatory cascade involved in the progression of breast cancer and we identify a protein associated with disease progression. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation and genome tiling arrays, whole genome mapping of transcription factor-binding sites was combined with gene expression profiling to identify genes involved in the proliferative response to estrogen (E2). Using RNA interference, selected ERalpha and c-MYC gene targets were knocked down to identify mediators of E2-stimulated cell proliferation. Tissue microarray screening revealed that high expression of an epigenetic factor, the E2-inducible histone variant H2A.Z, is significantly associated with lymph node metastasis and decreased breast cancer survival. Detection of H2A.Z levels independently increased the prognostic power of biomarkers currently in clinical use. This integrated approach has accelerated the identification of a molecule linked to breast cancer progression, has implications for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, and can be applied to a wide range of cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Disease Progression
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Genome
  • Histones / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Models, Biological
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • RNA Interference


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromatin
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogens
  • Histones
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc