FOXM1 is a key transcription factor regulating cell cycle progression, DNA damage response, and a host of other hallmark cancer features, but the role of the FOXM1 cistrome in driving estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) versus estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer clinical outcomes remains undefined. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) coupled with RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) analyses was used to identify FOXM1 target genes in breast cancer cells (MCF-7) where FOXM1 expression was either induced by cell proliferation or repressed by p53 upregulation. The prognostic performance of these FOXM1 target genes was assessed relative to FOXM transcript levels and a 61-gene proliferation score (PS) for their ability to dichotomize a pooled cohort of 683 adjuvant chemotherapy-naïve, node-negative breast cancer cases (447 ER+, 236 ER-). Differences in distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) between the dichotomized expression groups were determined by Cox proportional hazard modeling. Proliferation-associated FOXM1 upregulation induced a set of 145 differentially bound and expressed genes (direct targets), and these demonstrated minimal overlap with differentially bound and expressed genes following FOXM1 repression by p53 upregulation. This proliferation-associated FOXM1 cistrome was not only better at significantly predicting metastatic outcome of ER+ breast cancers (HR: 2.8 (2.0-3.8), p = 8.13E-10), but was the only parameter trending toward significance in predicting ER- metastatic outcome (HR: 1.6 (0.9-2.9), p = 0.087). Our findings demonstrate that FOXM1 target genes are highly dependent on the cellular context in which FOXM1 expression is modulated, and a newly identified proliferation-associated FOXM1 cistromic signature best predicts breast cancer metastatic outcome.
Keywords: Breast cancer FOXM1 genomic targets; FOXM1 ChIP-Seq; FOXM1 gene expression.