The oncogenic MUC1-C protein is overexpressed in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells and contributes to their epigenetic reprogramming and chemoresistance. Here we show that targeting MUC1-C genetically or pharmacologically with the GO-203 inhibitor, which blocks MUC1-C nuclear localization, induced DNA double-strand breaks and potentiated cisplatin (CDDP)-induced DNA damage and death. MUC1-C regulated nuclear localization of the polycomb group proteins BMI1 and EZH2, which formed complexes with PARP1 during the DNA damage response. Targeting MUC1-C downregulated BMI1-induced H2A ubiquitylation, EZH2-driven H3K27 trimethylation, and activation of PARP1. As a result, treatment with GO-203 synergistically sensitized both mutant and wild-type BRCA1 TNBC cells to the PARP inhibitor olaparib. These findings uncover a role for MUC1-C in the regulation of PARP1 and identify a therapeutic strategy for enhancing the effectiveness of PARP inhibitors against TNBC. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings demonstrate that targeting MUC1-C disrupts epigenetics of the PARP1 complex, inhibits PARP1 activity, and is synergistic with olaparib in TNBC cells.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.