The GATA3 X308_Splice Breast Cancer Mutation Is a Hormone Context-Dependent Oncogenic Driver

Oncogene. 2020 Jun 25. doi: 10.1038/s41388-020-1376-3. Online ahead of print.


As the catalog of oncogenic driver mutations is expanding, it becomes clear that alterations in a given gene might have different functions and should not be lumped into one class. The transcription factor GATA3 is a paradigm of this. We investigated the functions of the most common GATA3 mutation (X308_Splice) and five additional mutations, which converge into a neoprotein that we called "neoGATA3," associated with excellent prognosis in patients. Analysis of available molecular data from >3000 breast cancer patients revealed a dysregulation of the ER-dependent transcriptional response in tumors carrying neoGATA3-generating mutations. Mechanistic studies in vitro showed that neoGATA3 interferes with the transcriptional programs controlled by estrogen and progesterone receptors, without fully abrogating them. ChIP-Seq analysis indicated that ER binding is reduced in neoGATA3-expressing cells, especially at distal regions, suggesting that neoGATA3 interferes with the fine tuning of ER-dependent gene expression. This has opposite outputs in distinct hormonal context, having pro- or anti-proliferative effects, depending on the estrogen/progesterone ratio. Our data call for functional analyses of putative cancer drivers to guide clinical application.