Deciphering the Role of 3D Genome Organization in Breast Cancer Susceptibility

Front Genet. 2022 Jan 11;12:788318. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2021.788318. eCollection 2021.


Cancer risk by environmental exposure is modulated by an individual's genetics and age at exposure. This age-specific period of susceptibility is referred to as the "Window of Susceptibility" (WOS). Rats have a similar WOS for developing breast cancer. A previous study in rat identified an age-specific long-range regulatory interaction for the cancer gene, Pappa, that is associated with breast cancer susceptibility. However, the global role of three-dimensional genome organization and downstream gene expression programs in the WOS is not known. Therefore, we generated Hi-C and RNA-seq data in rat mammary epithelial cells within and outside the WOS. To systematically identify higher-order changes in 3D genome organization, we developed NE-MVNMF that combines network enhancement followed by multitask non-negative matrix factorization. We examined three-dimensional genome organization dynamics at the level of individual loops as well as higher-order domains. Differential chromatin interactions tend to be associated with differentially up-regulated genes with the WOS and recapitulate several human SNP-gene interactions associated with breast cancer susceptibility. Our approach identified genomic blocks of regions with greater overall differences in contact count between the two time points when the cluster assignments change and identified genes and pathways implicated in early carcinogenesis and cancer treatment. Our results suggest that WOS-specific changes in 3D genome organization are linked to transcriptional changes that may influence susceptibility to breast cancer.

Keywords: 3D genome organization; breast cancer; gene regulation; matrix factorization; window of susceptibility.