Level of FACT defines the transcriptional landscape and aggressive phenotype of breast cancer cells

Oncotarget. 2017 Mar 28;8(13):20525-20542. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.15656.


Although breast cancer (BrCa) may be detected at an early stage, there is a shortage of markers that predict tumor aggressiveness and a lack of targeted therapies. Histone chaperone FACT, expressed in a limited number of normal cells, is overexpressed in different types of cancer, including BrCa. Recently, we found that FACT expression in BrCa correlates with markers of aggressive BrCa, which prompted us to explore the consequences of FACT inhibition in BrCa cells with varying levels of FACT.FACT inhibition using a small molecule or shRNA caused reduced growth and viability of all BrCa cells tested. Phenotypic changes were more severe in "high- FACT" cells (death or growth arrest) than in "low-FACT" cells (decreased proliferation). Though inhibition had no effect on the rate of general transcription, expression of individual genes was changed in a cell-specific manner. Initially distinct transcriptional profiles of BrCa cells became similar upon equalizing FACT expression. In "high-FACT" cells, FACT supports expression of genes involved in the regulation of cell cycle, DNA replication, maintenance of an undifferentiated cell state and regulated by the activity of several proto-oncogenes. In "low-FACT" cells, the presence of FACT reduces expression of genes encoding enzymes of steroid metabolism that are characteristic of differentiated mammary epithelia.Thus, we propose that FACT is both a marker and a target of aggressive BrCa cells, whose inhibition results in the death of BrCa or convertion of them to a less aggressive subtype.

Keywords: FACT; SPT16; SSRP1; breast cancer; curaxin CBL0137.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / genetics*
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins
  • SSRP1 protein, human
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors