The recent discovery of the cancer-associated E76K mutation in histone H2B (H2BE76-to-K) in several types of cancers revealed a new class of oncohistone. H2BE76K weakens the stability of histone octamers, alters gene expression, and promotes colony formation. However, the mechanism linking the H2BE76K mutation to cancer development remains largely unknown. In this study, we knock in the H2BE76K mutation in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells using CRISPR/Cas9 and show that the E76K mutant histone H2B preferentially localizes to genic regions. Interestingly, genes upregulated in the H2BE76K mutant cells are enriched for the E76K mutant H2B and are involved in cell adhesion and proliferation pathways. We focused on one H2BE76K target gene, ADAM19 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase-domain-containing protein 19), a gene highly expressed in various human cancers including breast invasive carcinoma, and demonstrate that H2BE76K directly promotes ADAM19 transcription by facilitating efficient transcription along the gene body. ADAM19 depletion reduced the colony formation ability of the H2BE76K mutant cells, whereas wild-type MDA-MB-231 cells overexpressing ADAM19 mimics the colony formation phenotype of the H2BE76K mutant cells. Collectively, our data demonstrate the mechanism by which H2BE76K deregulates the expression of genes that control oncogenic properties through a combined effect of its specific genomic localization and nucleosome destabilization effect.
Keywords: ADAM; breast cancer; epigenetics; oncohistone; transcription.
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