Tumor formation is generally linked to the acquisition of two or more driver genes that cause normal cells to progress from proliferation to abnormal expansion and malignancy. In order to understand genetic alterations involved in this process, we compared the transcriptomes of an isogenic set of breast epithelial cell lines that are non-transformed or contain a single or double knock-in (DKI) of PIK3CA (H1047R) or KRAS (G12V). Gene set enrichment analysis revealed that DKI cells were enriched over single mutant cells for genes that characterize a MYC target gene signature. This gene signature was mediated in part by the bromodomain-containing protein 9 (BRD9) that was found in the SWI-SNF chromatin-remodeling complex, bound to the MYC super-enhancer locus. Small molecule inhibition of BRD9 reduced MYC transcript levels. Critically, only DKI cells had the capacity for anchorage-independent growth in semi-solid medium, and CRISPR-Cas9 manipulations showed that PIK3CA and BRD9 expression were essential for this phenotype. In contrast, KRAS was necessary for DKI cell migration, and BRD9 overexpression induced the growth of KRAS single mutant cells in semi-solid medium. These results provide new insight into the earliest transforming events driven by oncoprotein cooperation and suggest BRD9 is an important mediator of mutant PIK3CA/KRAS-driven oncogenic transformation.
Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; GTPase Kras (KRAS); MYC (c-Myc); bromodomain-containing protein 9 (BRD9); chromatin remodeling; oncogene; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase); transcriptomics; transformation; tumor cell biology.