SATB family chromatin organizers as master regulators of tumor progression

Oncogene. 2019 Mar;38(12):1989-2004. doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0541-4. Epub 2018 Nov 9.


SATB (Special AT-rich binding protein) family proteins have emerged as key regulators that integrate higher-order chromatin organization with the regulation of gene expression. Studies over the past decade have elucidated the specific roles of SATB1 and SATB2, two closely related members of this family, in cancer progression. SATB family chromatin organizers play diverse and important roles in regulating the dynamic equilibrium of apoptosis, cell invasion, metastasis, proliferation, angiogenesis, and immune modulation. This review highlights cellular and molecular events governed by SATB1 influencing the structural organization of chromatin and interacting with several co-activators and co-repressors of transcription towards tumor progression. SATB1 expression across tumor cell types generates cellular and molecular heterogeneity culminating in tumor relapse and metastasis. SATB1 exhibits dynamic expression within intratumoral cell types regulated by the tumor microenvironment, which culminates towards tumor progression. Recent studies suggested that cell-specific expression of SATB1 across tumor recruited dendritic cells (DC), cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), T regulatory cells (Tregs) and tumor epithelial cells along with tumor microenvironment act as primary determinants of tumor progression and tumor inflammation. In contrast, SATB2 is differentially expressed in an array of cancer types and is involved in tumorigenesis. Survival analysis for patients across an array of cancer types correlated with expression of SATB family chromatin organizers suggested tissue-specific expression of SATB1 and SATB2 contributing to disease prognosis. In this context, it is pertinent to understand molecular players, cellular pathways, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms governed by cell types within tumors regulated by SATB proteins. We propose that patient survival analysis based on the expression profile of SATB chromatin organizers would facilitate their unequivocal establishment as prognostic markers and therapeutic targets for cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Matrix Attachment Region Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Chromatin
  • Matrix Attachment Region Binding Proteins