Early growth response gene (EGR1) is a transcription factor known to be a downstream effector of B-cell receptor signaling and Janus kinase 1 (JAK1) signaling in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). While EGR1 is characterized as a tumor suppressor in leukemia and multiple myeloma, the role of EGR1 in lymphoma is unknown. Here we demonstrate that EGR1 is a potential oncogene that promotes cell proliferation in DLBCL. IHC analysis revealed that EGR1 expression is elevated in DLBCL compared with normal lymphoid tissues and the level of EGR1 expression is higher in activated B cell-like subtype (ABC) than germinal center B cell-like subtype (GCB). EGR1 expression is required for the survival and proliferation of DLBCL cells. Genomic analyses demonstrated that EGR1 upregulates expression of MYC and E2F pathway genes through the CBP/p300/H3K27ac/BRD4 axis while repressing expression of the type I IFN pathway genes by interaction with the corepressor NAB2. Genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of EGR1 synergizes with the BRD4 inhibitor JQ1 or the type I IFN inducer lenalidomide in growth inhibition of ABC DLBCL both in cell cultures and xenograft mouse models. Therefore, targeting oncogenic EGR1 signaling represents a potential new targeted therapeutic strategy in DLBCL, especially for the more aggressive ABC DLBCL. IMPLICATIONS: The study characterizes EGR1 as a potential oncogene that promotes cell proliferation and defines EGR1 as a new molecular target in DLBCL, the most common non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
©2021 American Association for Cancer Research.