The NuRD chromatin remodeling and deacetylation complex, which includes MTA1, MBD3, CHD4, and HDAC1 among other components, is of importance for development and cancer progression. The oncogenic mucin 1 (MUC1) C-terminal subunit (MUC1-C) protein activates EZH2 and BMI1 in the epigenetic reprogramming of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, there is no known link between MUC1-C and chromatin remodeling complexes. Here, we showed that MUC1-C binds directly to the MYC HLH-LZ domain and identified a previously unrecognized MUC1-C→MYC pathway that regulates the NuRD complex. MUC1-C/MYC complexes selectively activated the MTA1 and MBD3 genes and posttranscriptionally induced CHD4 expression in basal- but not luminal-type BC cells. In turn, MUC1-C formed complexes with these NuRD components on the ESR1 promoter. Downregulating MUC1-C decreased MTA1/MBD3/CHD4/HDAC1 occupancy and increased H3K27 acetylation on the ESR1 promoter, with induction of ESR1 expression and downstream estrogen response pathways. Targeting MUC1-C and these NuRD components also induced expression of FOXA1, GATA3, and other markers associated with the luminal phenotype. These findings support a model in which MUC1-C activates the NuRD complex to drive dedifferentiation and reprogramming of TNBC cells. SIGNIFICANCE: MUC1-C directly interacts with MYC to activate the NuRD complex, mediating regulation of the estrogen receptor in triple-negative breast cancer cells.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.