Gene Summary

Gene:FOXA1; forkhead box A1
Aliases: HNF3A, TCF3A
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the forkhead class of DNA-binding proteins. These hepatocyte nuclear factors are transcriptional activators for liver-specific transcripts such as albumin and transthyretin, and they also interact with chromatin. Similar family members in mice have roles in the regulation of metabolism and in the differentiation of the pancreas and liver. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:hepatocyte nuclear factor 3-alpha
Source:NCBIAccessed: 11 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (35)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 11 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Protein Binding
  • Morphogenesis
  • X-Box Binding Protein 1
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Western Blotting
  • Estradiol
  • Zinc Fingers
  • GATA3
  • Chromatin
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Gene Enhancer Elements
  • Breast Cancer
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Messenger RNA
  • Genome, Human
  • Mutation
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Transcription
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Estrogen Receptors
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Tamoxifen
  • FGFR2
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Chromosome 14
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional
Tag cloud generated 11 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (2)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: FOXA1 (cancer-related)

Li M, Zhang W, Liu C, et al.
Forkhead box A1 (FOXA1) tagging polymorphisms and esophageal cancer risk in a Chinese population: a fine-mapping study.
Biomarkers. 2016; 21(6):523-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Esophageal cancer was the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in China in 2009. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) accounts for more than 90% of esophageal cancers. Besides environmental risk factors, genetic factors such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) play an important role in ESCC carcinogenesis. We performed a hospital-based case-control study to evaluate the Forkhead-box protein A1 (FOXA1) rs12894364 C > T, rs2145146 C > A and rs7144658 T > C tag SNPs in the risk of developing ESCC. We recruited 629 ESCC cases and 686 controls. Genotypes were determined using ligation detection reaction. Logistic regression analyses revealed that the three FOXA1 SNPs were not associated with ESCC risk. However, there was significantly decreased ESCC risk associated with the FOXA1 rs12894364 C > T and rs2145146 C > A polymorphisms among older patients. There was significantly increased ESCC risk associated with the FOXA1 rs7144658 T > C polymorphism among male patients. This study demonstrates an association between FOXA1 polymorphisms and ESCC susceptibility. Additional larger studies are required to confirm our findings.

Slebe F, Rojo F, Vinaixa M, et al.
FoxA and LIPG endothelial lipase control the uptake of extracellular lipids for breast cancer growth.
Nat Commun. 2016; 7:11199 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The mechanisms that allow breast cancer (BCa) cells to metabolically sustain rapid growth are poorly understood. Here we report that BCa cells are dependent on a mechanism to supply precursors for intracellular lipid production derived from extracellular sources and that the endothelial lipase (LIPG) fulfils this function. LIPG expression allows the import of lipid precursors, thereby contributing to BCa proliferation. LIPG stands out as an essential component of the lipid metabolic adaptations that BCa cells, and not normal tissue, must undergo to support high proliferation rates. LIPG is ubiquitously and highly expressed under the control of FoxA1 or FoxA2 in all BCa subtypes. The downregulation of either LIPG or FoxA in transformed cells results in decreased proliferation and impaired synthesis of intracellular lipids.

Kaffenberger SD, Barbieri CE
Molecular subtyping of prostate cancer.
Curr Opin Urol. 2016; 26(3):213-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The recent publication of The Cancer Genome Atlas molecular taxonomy of primary prostate cancer highlights the increased understanding of the genomic basis of human prostate cancer, but also emphasizes the complexity and heterogeneity of prostate cancer.
RECENT FINDINGS: Seven molecular subclasses have been defined on the basis of early genomic alterations, which are largely mutually exclusive.
SUMMARY: We review the recent advances in the genomic understanding of human prostate cancer, with focus on molecular subclassification. Broadly, prostate cancer can be classified based upon whether specific genomic rearrangements, such as the Transmembrane Protease, Serine 2-ETS-related gene fusion occur or whether specific alterations such as Speckle-type POZ protein and forkhead box A1 mutations occur. The molecular drivers remain to be identified in a further quarter of human prostate cancers. Depending upon the molecular subclassification and the coincident genomic alterations, specific clinical insights can be gained from this information, including associations with pathologic factors, race, and prognosis, as well as the possibility for future precision therapies.

Whitington T, Gao P, Song W, et al.
Gene regulatory mechanisms underpinning prostate cancer susceptibility.
Nat Genet. 2016; 48(4):387-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
Molecular characterization of genome-wide association study (GWAS) loci can uncover key genes and biological mechanisms underpinning complex traits and diseases. Here we present deep, high-throughput characterization of gene regulatory mechanisms underlying prostate cancer risk loci. Our methodology integrates data from 295 prostate cancer chromatin immunoprecipitation and sequencing experiments with genotype and gene expression data from 602 prostate tumor samples. The analysis identifies new gene regulatory mechanisms affected by risk locus SNPs, including widespread disruption of ternary androgen receptor (AR)-FOXA1 and AR-HOXB13 complexes and competitive binding mechanisms. We identify 57 expression quantitative trait loci at 35 risk loci, which we validate through analysis of allele-specific expression. We further validate predicted regulatory SNPs and target genes in prostate cancer cell line models. Finally, our integrated analysis can be accessed through an interactive visualization tool. This analysis elucidates how genome sequence variation affects disease predisposition via gene regulatory mechanisms and identifies relevant genes for downstream biomarker and drug development.

Cai M, Kim S, Wang K, et al.
4C-seq revealed long-range interactions of a functional enhancer at the 8q24 prostate cancer risk locus.
Sci Rep. 2016; 6:22462 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >100 independent susceptibility loci for prostate cancer, including the hot spot at 8q24. However, how genetic variants at this locus confer disease risk hasn't been fully characterized. Using circularized chromosome conformation capture (4C) coupled with next-generation sequencing and an enhancer at 8q24 as "bait", we identified genome-wide partners interacting with this enhancer in cell lines LNCaP and C4-2B. These 4C-identified regions are distributed in open nuclear compartments, featuring active histone marks (H3K4me1, H3K4me2 and H3K27Ac). Transcription factors NKX3-1, FOXA1 and AR (androgen receptor) tend to occupy these 4C regions. We identified genes located at the interacting regions, and found them linked to positive regulation of mesenchymal cell proliferation in LNCaP and C4-2B, and several pathways (TGF beta signaling pathway in LNCaP and p53 pathway in C4-2B). Common genes (e.g. MYC and POU5F1B) were identified in both prostate cancer cell lines. However, each cell line also had exclusive genes (e.g. ELAC2 and PTEN in LNCaP and BRCA2 and ZFHX3 in C4-2B). In addition, BCL-2 identified in C4-2B might contribute to the progression of androgen-refractory prostate cancer. Overall, our work reveals key genes and pathways involved in prostate cancer onset and progression.

Matsuda Y, Miura K, Yamane J, et al.
SERPINI1 regulates epithelial-mesenchymal transition in an orthotopic implantation model of colorectal cancer.
Cancer Sci. 2016; 107(5):619-28 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
An increasingly accepted concept is that the progression of colorectal cancer is accompanied by epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In our study, in order to characterize the properties of EMT in 16 colorectal cancer cell lines, the cells were first orthotopically implanted into nude mice, and the tumors in vivo, as well as cells cultured in vitro, were immunostained for EMT markers. The immunostaining revealed that seven of the cells had an epithelial phenotype with a high expression of E-cadherin, whereas other cells showed opposite patterns, such as a high expression of vimentin (CX-1, COLO205, CloneA, HCT116, and SW48). Among the cells expressing vimentin, some expressed vimentin in the orthotopic tumors but not in the cultured cells (SW480, SW620, and COLO320). We evaluated these findings in combination with microarray analyses, and selected five genes: CHST11, SERPINI1, AGR2, FBP1, and FOXA1. Next, we downregulated the expression of SERPINI1 with siRNA in the cells, the results of which showed reverse-EMT changes at the protein level and in the cellular morphology. Along with immunohistochemical analyses, we confirmed the effect of the intracellular and secreted SERPINI1 protein of SW620 cells, which supported the importance of SERPINI1 in EMT. The development of therapeutic strategies targeting EMT is ongoing, including methods targeting the transforming growth factor-β signaling pathway as well as the Wnt pathway. SERPINI1 is an important regulator of EMT. Our findings help to elucidate the signaling pathways of EMT, hopefully clarifying therapeutic pathways as well.

Lin M, Shi C, Lin X, et al.
sMicroRNA-1290 inhibits cells proliferation and migration by targeting FOXA1 in gastric cancer cells.
Gene. 2016; 582(2):137-42 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Gastric cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world with high mortality rate due to the lack of markers in early detection and effective therapies. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a critical part of epigenetic regulations in tumor, have been shown to be closely related to the initiation, development, invasion, metastasis and prognosis of gastric cancer. The present study aims to investigate the expression of miR-1290 in gastric tumor cells and to elucidate the target gene of miR-1290 in SGC-7901 gastric cancer cells.
METHODOLOGY: The fluorescence in situ hybridization, real time PCR and Western blot were used to investigate the expression of miR-1290 in gastric tumor cells and clinical gastric tumor samples. The effect of miR-1290 expression on gastric tumor cells was studied using Synthetic miR-1290 inhibitor transfection, in vitro wound healing assay and flow cytometry analysis. Bioinformatics and Luciferase reporter assay were used to predict and validate the target gene of miR-1290.
RESULTS: Our results revealed that miR-1290 was highly expressed in SGC-7901 gastric cancer cells as well as in clinical gastric cancer samples, which was correlated with clinical stages, depth of invasion and lymph node metastasis. Synthetic miR-1290 inhibitor transfection significantly inhibited the proliferation and migration of SGC-7901 cells. Bioinformatics analysis and luciferase reporter assay suggested that miR-1290 functioned in gastric cancer cells by targeting FOXA1 gene.
CONCLUSION: miR-1290 promotes gastric tumor cells proliferation and metastasis through FOXA1, which could be used as a marker for diagnosis and a target for therapeutic intervention.

Tachi K, Shiraishi A, Bando H, et al.
FOXA1 expression affects the proliferation activity of luminal breast cancer stem cell populations.
Cancer Sci. 2016; 107(3):281-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
The expression of estrogen receptor is the key in most breast cancers (BC) and binding of estrogen receptor to the genome correlates to Forkhead protein (FOXA1) expression. We herein assessed the correlation between the cancer stem cell (CSC) population and FOXA1 expression in luminal BC. We established luminal BC cells derived from metastatic pleural effusion and analyzed the potency of CSC and related factors with established luminal BC cell lines. We also confirmed that mammosphere cultures have an increased aldehyde dehydrogenase-positive population, which is one of the CSC markers, compared with adherent culture cells. Using a quantitative PCR analysis, we found that mammosphere forming cells showed a higher expression of FOXA1 and stemness-related genes compared with adherent culture cells. Furthermore, the growth activity and colony-forming activity of 4-hydroxytamoxifen-treated BC cells were inhibited in a mammosphere assay. Interestingly, 4-hydroxytamoxifen-resistant cells had significantly increased FOXA1 gene expression levels. Finally, we established short hairpin RNA of FOXA1 (shFOXA1) MCF-7 cells and investigated the relationship between self-renewal potential and FOXA1 expression. As a result, we found no significant difference in the number of mammospheres but decreased colony formation in shFOXA1 MCF-7 cells compared with control. These results suggest that the expression of FOXA1 appears to be involved in the proliferation of immature BC cells rather than the induction of stemness-related genes and self-renewal potency of CSCs.

Grabowska MM, Kelly SM, Reese AL, et al.
Nfib Regulates Transcriptional Networks That Control the Development of Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Endocrinology. 2016; 157(3):1094-109 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
A functional complex consisting of androgen receptor (AR) and forkhead box A1 (FOXA1) proteins supports prostatic development, differentiation, and disease. In addition, the interaction of FOXA1 with cofactors such as nuclear factor I (NFI) family members modulates AR target gene expression. However, the global role of specific NFI family members has yet to be described in the prostate. In these studies, chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by DNA sequencing in androgen-dependent LNCaP prostate cancer cells demonstrated that 64.3% of NFIB binding sites are associated with AR and FOXA1 binding sites. Interrogation of published data revealed that genes associated with NFIB binding sites are predominantly induced after dihydrotestosterone treatment of LNCaP cells, whereas NFIB knockdown studies demonstrated that loss of NFIB drives increased AR expression and superinduction of a subset of AR target genes. Notably, genes bound by NFIB only are associated with cell division and cell cycle. To define the role of NFIB in vivo, mouse Nfib knockout prostatic tissue was rescued via renal capsule engraftment. Loss of Nfib expression resulted in prostatic hyperplasia, which did not resolve in response to castration, and an expansion of an intermediate cell population in a small subset of grafts. In human benign prostatic hyperplasia, luminal NFIB loss correlated with more severe disease. Finally, some areas of intermediate cell expansion were also associated with NFIB loss. Taken together, these results show a fundamental role for NFIB as a coregulator of AR action in the prostate and in controlling prostatic hyperplasia.

Wang R, Shi Y, Chen L, et al.
The ratio of FoxA1 to FoxA2 in lung adenocarcinoma is regulated by LncRNA HOTAIR and chromatin remodeling factor LSH.
Sci Rep. 2015; 5:17826 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The lncRNA HOTAIR is a critical regulator of cancer progression. Chromatin remodeling factor LSH is critical for normal development of plants and mammals. However, the underlying mechanisms causing this in cancer are not entirely clear. The functional diversification of the FOXA1 and FOXA2 contributes to the target genes during evolution and carcinogenesis. Little is known about the ratio of FOXA1 to FOXA2 in cancer. We here found that both HOTAIR and LSH overexpression was significantly correlated with poor survival in patients with lung adenocarcinoma cancer (ADC). Also, the ratio of FOXA1 and FOXA2 is linked with poor survival in patients with lung ADC. HOTAIR regulates the ratio of FOXA1 to FOXA2 and migration and invasion. HOTAIR and the ratio of FOXA1 to FOXA2 are negatively correlated. HOTAIR knockdown inhibits migration and invasion. HOTAIR is associated with LSH, and this association linked with the binding of LSH in the promoter of FOXA1, not FOXA2. Targeted inhibition of HOTAIR suppresses the migratory and invasive properties. These data suggest that HOTAIR is an important mediator of the ratio of FOXA1 and FOXA2 and LSH involves in, and suggest that HOTAIR inhibition may represent a promising therapeutic option for suppressing lung ADC progression.

The Molecular Taxonomy of Primary Prostate Cancer.
Cell. 2015; 163(4):1011-25 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
There is substantial heterogeneity among primary prostate cancers, evident in the spectrum of molecular abnormalities and its variable clinical course. As part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we present a comprehensive molecular analysis of 333 primary prostate carcinomas. Our results revealed a molecular taxonomy in which 74% of these tumors fell into one of seven subtypes defined by specific gene fusions (ERG, ETV1/4, and FLI1) or mutations (SPOP, FOXA1, and IDH1). Epigenetic profiles showed substantial heterogeneity, including an IDH1 mutant subset with a methylator phenotype. Androgen receptor (AR) activity varied widely and in a subtype-specific manner, with SPOP and FOXA1 mutant tumors having the highest levels of AR-induced transcripts. 25% of the prostate cancers had a presumed actionable lesion in the PI3K or MAPK signaling pathways, and DNA repair genes were inactivated in 19%. Our analysis reveals molecular heterogeneity among primary prostate cancers, as well as potentially actionable molecular defects.

Niang B, Jin L, Chen X, et al.
GalNAc-T4 putatively modulates the estrogen regulatory network through FOXA1 glycosylation in human breast cancer cells.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2016; 411(1-2):393-402 [PubMed] Related Publications
GALNT4 belongs to a family of N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferases, which catalyze the transfer of GalNAc to Serine or Threonine residues in the initial step of mucin-type O-linked protein glycosylation. This glycosylation type is the most complex post-translational modification of proteins, playing important roles during cellular differentiation and in pathological disorders. Most of the breast cancer subtypes are estrogen receptor positive, and hence, the estrogen pathway represents a key regulatory network. We investigated the expression of GalNAc-T4 in a panel of mammary epithelial cell lines and found its expression is associated with the estrogen status of the cells. FOXA1, a key transcription factor, functions to promote estrogen responsive gene expression by acting as a cofactor to estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), but all the aspects of this regulatory mechanism are not fully explored. This study found that knockdown of GALNT4 expression in human breast cancer cells attenuated the protein expression of ERα, FOXA1, and Cyclin D1. Further, our immunoprecipitation assays depicted the possibility of FOXA1 to undergo O-GalNAc modifications with a decrease of GalNAc residues in the GALNT4 knockdown cells and also impairment in the FOXA1-ERα association. Rescuing GALNT4 expression could restore the interaction as well as the glycosylation of FOXA1. Together, these findings suggest a key role for GalNAc-T4 in the estrogen pathway through FOXA1 glycosylation.

Li R, Campos J, Iida J
A Gene Regulatory Program in Human Breast Cancer.
Genetics. 2015; 201(4):1341-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Molecular heterogeneity in human breast cancer has challenged diagnosis, prognosis, and clinical treatment. It is well known that molecular subtypes of breast tumors are associated with significant differences in prognosis and survival. Assuming that the differences are attributed to subtype-specific pathways, we then suspect that there might be gene regulatory mechanisms that modulate the behavior of the pathways and their interactions. In this study, we proposed an integrated methodology, including machine learning and information theory, to explore the mechanisms. Using existing data from three large cohorts of human breast cancer populations, we have identified an ensemble of 16 master regulator genes (or MR16) that can discriminate breast tumor samples into four major subtypes. Evidence from gene expression across the three cohorts has consistently indicated that the MR16 can be divided into two groups that demonstrate subtype-specific gene expression patterns. For example, group 1 MRs, including ESR1, FOXA1, and GATA3, are overexpressed in luminal A and luminal B subtypes, but lowly expressed in HER2-enriched and basal-like subtypes. In contrast, group 2 MRs, including FOXM1, EZH2, MYBL2, and ZNF695, display an opposite pattern. Furthermore, evidence from mutual information modeling has congruently indicated that the two groups of MRs either up- or down-regulate cancer driver-related genes in opposite directions. Furthermore, integration of somatic mutations with pathway changes leads to identification of canonical genomic alternations in a subtype-specific fashion. Taken together, these studies have implicated a gene regulatory program for breast tumor progression.

Pomerantz MM, Li F, Takeda DY, et al.
The androgen receptor cistrome is extensively reprogrammed in human prostate tumorigenesis.
Nat Genet. 2015; 47(11):1346-51 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Master transcription factors interact with DNA to establish cell type identity and to regulate gene expression in mammalian cells. The genome-wide map of these transcription factor binding sites has been termed the cistrome. Here we show that the androgen receptor (AR) cistrome undergoes extensive reprogramming during prostate epithelial transformation in man. Using human prostate tissue, we observed a core set of AR binding sites that are consistently reprogrammed in tumors. FOXA1 and HOXB13 colocalized at the reprogrammed AR binding sites in human tumor tissue. Introduction of FOXA1 and HOXB13 into an immortalized prostate cell line reprogrammed the AR cistrome to resemble that of a prostate tumor, functionally linking these specific factors to AR cistrome reprogramming. These findings offer mechanistic insights into a key set of events that drive normal prostate epithelium toward transformation and establish the centrality of epigenetic reprogramming in human prostate tumorigenesis.

Dai X, Li Y, Bai Z, Tang XQ
Molecular portraits revealing the heterogeneity of breast tumor subtypes defined using immunohistochemistry markers.
Sci Rep. 2015; 5:14499 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Breast cancer is highly heterogeneous. The subtypes defined using immunohistochemistry markers and gene expression profilings (GEP) are related but not equivalent, with inter-connections under investigated. Our previous study revealed a set of differentially expressed genes (diff-genes), containing 1015 mRNAs and 69 miRNAs, which characterize the immunohistochemistry-defined breast tumor subtypes at the GEP level. However, they may convey redundant information due to the large amount of genes included. By reducing the dimension of the diff-genes, we identified 119 mRNAs and 20 miRNAs best explaining breast tumor heterogeneity with the most succinct number of genes found using hierarchical clustering and nearest-to-center principle. The final signature panel contains 119 mRNAs, whose superiority over diff-genes was replicated in two independent public datasets. The comparison of our signature with two pioneering signatures, the Sorlie's signature and PAM50, suggests a novel marker, FOXA1, in breast cancer classification. Subtype-specific feature genes are reported to characterize each immunohistochemistry-defined subgroup. Pathway and network analysis reveal the critical roles of Notch signalings in [ER+|PR+]HER2- and cell cycle in [ER+|PR+]HER2+ tumors. Our study reveals the primary differences among the four immunohistochemistry-defined breast tumors at the mRNA and miRNA levels, and proposes a novel signature for breast tumor subtyping given GEP data.

Takayama K, Misawa A, Suzuki T, et al.
TET2 repression by androgen hormone regulates global hydroxymethylation status and prostate cancer progression.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:8219 [PubMed] Related Publications
Modulation of epigenetic patterns has promising efficacy for treating cancer. 5-Hydroxymethylated cytosine (5-hmC) is an epigenetic mark potentially important in cancer. Here we report that 5-hmC is an epigenetic hallmark of prostate cancer (PCa) progression. A member of the ten-eleven translocation (TET) proteins, which catalyse the oxidation of methylated cytosine (5-mC) to 5-hmC, TET2, is repressed by androgens in PCa. Androgen receptor (AR)-mediated induction of the miR-29 family, which targets TET2, are markedly enhanced in hormone refractory PCa (HRPC) and its high expression predicts poor outcome of PCa patients. Furthermore, decreased expression of miR-29b results in reduced tumour growth and increased TET2 expression in an animal model of HRPC. Interestingly, global 5-hmC modification regulated by miR-29b represses FOXA1 activity. A reduction in 5-hmC activates PCa-related key pathways such as mTOR and AR. Thus, DNA modification directly links the TET2-dependent epigenetic pathway regulated by AR to 5-hmC-mediated tumour progression.

Johansson E, Andersson L, Örnros J, et al.
Revising the embryonic origin of thyroid C cells in mice and humans.
Development. 2015; 142(20):3519-28 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Current understanding infers a neural crest origin of thyroid C cells, the major source of calcitonin in mammals and ancestors to neuroendocrine thyroid tumors. The concept is primarily based on investigations in quail-chick chimeras involving fate mapping of neural crest cells to the ultimobranchial glands that regulate Ca(2+) homeostasis in birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes, but whether mammalian C cell development involves a homologous ontogenetic trajectory has not been experimentally verified. With lineage tracing, we now provide direct evidence that Sox17+ anterior endoderm is the only source of differentiated C cells and their progenitors in mice. Like many gut endoderm derivatives, embryonic C cells were found to coexpress pioneer factors forkhead box (Fox) a1 and Foxa2 before neuroendocrine differentiation takes place. In the ultimobranchial body epithelium emerging from pharyngeal pouch endoderm in early organogenesis, differential Foxa1/Foxa2 expression distinguished two spatially separated pools of C cell precursors with different growth properties. A similar expression pattern was recapitulated in medullary thyroid carcinoma cells in vivo, consistent with a growth-promoting role of Foxa1. In contrast to embryonic precursor cells, C cell-derived tumor cells invading the stromal compartment downregulated Foxa2, foregoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition designated by loss of E-cadherin; both Foxa2 and E-cadherin were re-expressed at metastatic sites. These findings revise mammalian C cell ontogeny, expand the neuroendocrine repertoire of endoderm and redefine the boundaries of neural crest diversification. The data further underpin distinct functions of Foxa1 and Foxa2 in both embryonic and tumor development.

Jones D, Wade M, Nakjang S, et al.
FOXA1 regulates androgen receptor variant activity in models of castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(30):29782-94 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Retention of androgen receptor (AR) signalling in castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) highlights the requirement for the development of more effective AR targeting therapies. A key mechanism of resistance to anti-androgens is through expression of constitutively active AR variants (AR-Vs) that are refractory to next-generation therapies, including Enzalutamide and Abiraterone. By maintaining an androgenic gene signature, AR-Vs drive tumour survival and progression in castrate conditions. Critically, however, our understanding of the mechanics of AR-V-driven transcription is limited, particularly with respect to dependency on pioneer factor function. Here we show that depletion of FOXA1 in the CWR22Rv1 CRPC cell line abrogates the oncogenic potential of AR-Vs. Gene expression profiling reveals that approximately 41% of the AR-V transcriptome requires FOXA1 and that depletion of FOXA1 attenuates AR-V binding at a sub-set of analysed co-regulated genes. Interestingly, AR-V levels are elevated in cells depleted of FOXA1 as a consequence of attenuated negative feedback on the AR gene, but is insufficient to maintain cell growth as evidenced by marked anti-proliferative effects in FOXA1 knockdown cells. In all, our data suggests that AR-Vs are dependent on FOXA1 for sustaining a pro-proliferative gene signature and agents targeting FOXA1 may represent novel therapeutic options for CRPC patients.

Perez-Balaguer A, Ortiz-Martínez F, García-Martínez A, et al.
FOXA2 mRNA expression is associated with relapse in patients with Triple-Negative/Basal-like breast carcinoma.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015; 153(2):465-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
The FOXA family of transcription factors regulates chromatin structure and gene expression especially during embryonic development. In normal breast tissue FOXA1 acts throughout mammary development; whereas in breast carcinoma its expression promotes luminal phenotype and correlates with good prognosis. However, the role of FOXA2 has not been previously studied in breast cancer. Our purpose was to analyze the expression of FOXA2 in breast cancer cells, to explore its role in breast cancer stem cells, and to correlate its mRNA expression with clinicopathological features and outcome in a series of patients diagnosed with breast carcinoma. We analyzed FOXA2 mRNA expression in a retrospective cohort of 230 breast cancer patients and in cell lines. We also knocked down FOXA2 mRNA expression by siRNA to determine the impact on cell proliferation and mammospheres formation using a cancer stem cells culture assay. In vitro studies demonstrated higher FOXA2 mRNA expression in Triple-Negative/Basal-like cells. Further, when it was knocked down, cells decreased proliferation and its capability of forming mammospheres. Similarly, FOXA2 mRNA expression was detected in 10% (23/230) of the tumors, especially in Triple-Negative/Basal-like phenotype (p < 0.001, Fisher's test). Patients whose tumors expressed FOXA2 had increased relapses (59 vs. 79%, p = 0.024, log-rank test) that revealed an independent prognostic value (HR = 3.29, C.I.95% = 1.45-7.45, p = 0.004, Cox regression). Our results suggest that FOXA2 promotes cell proliferation, maintains cancer stem cells, favors the development of Triple-Negative/Basal-like tumors, and is associated with increase relapses.

Guiu S, Charon-Barra C, Vernerey D, et al.
Coexpression of androgen receptor and FOXA1 in nonmetastatic triple-negative breast cancer: ancillary study from PACS08 trial.
Future Oncol. 2015; 11(16):2283-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: Microarray studies identified a subgroup of molecular apocrine tumors (estrogen receptor [ER] negative/androgen receptor [AR] positive) that express luminal genes including FOXA1. FOXA1 may direct AR to sites normally occupied by ER in luminal tumors, inducing an estrogen-like gene program that stimulated proliferation.
MATERIALS & METHODS: Expression of AR and FOXA1 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 592 patients with nonmetastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
RESULTS: Coexpression of AR and FOXA1 was found in 15.2% of patients. These tumors were more frequently lobular, found in older patients and exhibited a lower nuclear grade and a greater degree of node involvement. They less often exhibited lymphocytic infiltrate, pushing margins, syncytial architecture, central fibrosis or necrosis.
CONCLUSION: TNBC with coexpression of AR and FOXA1 seems to behave like luminal tumors with a morphological profile distinct from other TNBC. These biomarkers could be useful to identify a subgroup of TNBC and could have future therapeutic implications.

Nagari A, Franco HL
Interplay between inflammatory and estrogen signaling in breast cancer.
Cytokine. 2015; 76(2):588-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
Inflammation is known to have a paradoxical effect in cancers, in some cases promoting pathogenesis while in others inhibiting pathogenesis, depending on the cellular context. In an effort to answer a number of fundamental questions about two of the major signaling cascades that affect breast tumorigenesis and impact clinical outcome, we examined the genome-wide consequences of treating ERα-positive breast cancer cells with both estrogen and TNFα. Below, we highlight our observations, their biological significance, and how they provide a framework for understanding the molecular basis for integration of proinflammatory and estrogen signaling in breast cancer.

Su Y, Subedee A, Bloushtain-Qimron N, et al.
Somatic Cell Fusions Reveal Extensive Heterogeneity in Basal-like Breast Cancer.
Cell Rep. 2015; 11(10):1549-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
Basal-like and luminal breast tumors have distinct clinical behavior and molecular profiles, yet the underlying mechanisms are poorly defined. To interrogate processes that determine these distinct phenotypes and their inheritance pattern, we generated somatic cell fusions and performed integrated genetic and epigenetic (DNA methylation and chromatin) profiling. We found that the basal-like trait is generally dominant and is largely defined by epigenetic repression of luminal transcription factors. Definition of super-enhancers highlighted a core program common in luminal cells but a high degree of heterogeneity in basal-like breast cancers that correlates with clinical outcome. We also found that protein extracts of basal-like cells are sufficient to induce a luminal-to-basal phenotypic switch, implying a trigger of basal-like autoregulatory circuits. We determined that KDM6A might be required for luminal-basal fusions, and we identified EN1, TBX18, and TCF4 as candidate transcriptional regulators of the luminal-to-basal switch. Our findings highlight the remarkable epigenetic plasticity of breast cancer cells.

Eriksson P, Aine M, Veerla S, et al.
Molecular subtypes of urothelial carcinoma are defined by specific gene regulatory systems.
BMC Med Genomics. 2015; 8:25 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Molecular stratification of bladder cancer has revealed gene signatures differentially expressed across tumor subtypes. While these signatures provide important insights into subtype biology, the transcriptional regulation that governs these signatures is not well characterized.
METHODS: In this study, we use publically available ChIP-Seq data on regulatory factor binding in order to link transcription factors to gene signatures defining molecular subtypes of urothelial carcinoma.
RESULTS: We identify PPARG and STAT3, as well as ADIRF, a novel regulator of fatty acid metabolism, as putative mediators of the SCC-like phenotype. We link the PLK1-FOXM1 axis to the rapidly proliferating Genomically Unstable and SCC-like subtypes and show that differentiation programs involving PPARG/RXRA, FOXA1/GATA3 and HOXA/HOXB are differentially expressed in UC molecular subtypes. We show that gene signatures and regulatory systems defined in urothelial carcinoma operate in breast cancer in a subtype specific manner, suggesting similarities at the gene regulatory level of these two tumor types.
CONCLUSIONS: At the gene regulatory level Urobasal, Genomically Unstable and SCC-like tumors represents three fundamentally different tumor types. Urobasal tumors maintain an apparent urothelial differentiation axis composed of PPARG/RXRA, FOXA1/GATA3 and anterior HOXA and HOXB genes. Genomically Unstable and SCC-like tumors differ from Urobasal tumors by a strong increase of proliferative activity through the PLK1-FOXM1 axis operating in both subtypes. However, whereas SCC-like tumors evade urothelial differentiation by a block in differentiation through strong downregulation of PPARG/RXRA, FOXA1/GATA3, our data indicates that Genomically Unstable tumors evade differentiation in a more dynamic manner.

Bailey SD, Virtanen C, Haibe-Kains B, Lupien M
ABC: a tool to identify SNVs causing allele-specific transcription factor binding from ChIP-Seq experiments.
Bioinformatics. 2015; 31(18):3057-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
MOTIVATION: Detection of allelic imbalances in ChIP-Seq reads is a powerful approach to identify functional non-coding single nucleotide variants (SNVs), either polymorphisms or mutations, which modulate the affinity of transcription factors for chromatin. We present ABC, a computational tool that identifies allele-specific binding of transcription factors from aligned ChIP-Seq reads at heterozygous SNVs. ABC controls for potential false positives resulting from biases introduced by the use of short sequencing reads in ChIP-Seq and can efficiently process a large number of heterozygous SNVs.
RESULTS: ABC successfully identifies previously characterized functional SNVs, such as the rs4784227 breast cancer risk associated SNP that modulates the affinity of FOXA1 for the chromatin.
AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The code is open-source under an Artistic-2.0 license and versioned on GitHub ( ABC is written in PERL and can be run on any platform with both PERL (≥5.18.1) and R (≥3.1.1) installed. The script requires the PERL Statistics::R module.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Yao L, Shen H, Laird PW, et al.
Inferring regulatory element landscapes and transcription factor networks from cancer methylomes.
Genome Biol. 2015; 16:105 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recent studies indicate that DNA methylation can be used to identify transcriptional enhancers, but no systematic approach has been developed for genome-wide identification and analysis of enhancers based on DNA methylation. We describe ELMER (Enhancer Linking by Methylation/Expression Relationships), an R-based tool that uses DNA methylation to identify enhancers and correlates enhancer state with expression of nearby genes to identify transcriptional targets. Transcription factor motif analysis of enhancers is coupled with expression analysis of transcription factors to infer upstream regulators. Using ELMER, we investigated more than 2,000 tumor samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas. We identified networks regulated by known cancer drivers such as GATA3 and FOXA1 (breast cancer), SOX17 and FOXA2 (endometrial cancer), and NFE2L2, SOX2, and TP63 (squamous cell lung cancer). We also identified novel networks with prognostic associations, including RUNX1 in kidney cancer. We propose ELMER as a powerful new paradigm for understanding the cis-regulatory interface between cancer-associated transcription factors and their functional target genes.

Fortes FP, Kuasne H, Marchi FA, et al.
DNA methylation patterns of candidate genes regulated by thymine DNA glycosylase in patients with TP53 germline mutations.
Braz J Med Biol Res. 2015; 48(7):610-5 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is a rare, autosomal dominant, hereditary cancer predisposition disorder. In Brazil, the p.R337H TP53 founder mutation causes the variant form of LFS, Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome. The occurrence of cancer and age of disease onset are known to vary, even in patients carrying the same mutation, and several mechanisms such as genetic and epigenetic alterations may be involved in this variability. However, the extent of involvement of such events has not been clarified. It is well established that p53 regulates several pathways, including the thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG) pathway, which regulates the DNA methylation of several genes. This study aimed to identify the DNA methylation pattern of genes potentially related to the TDG pathway (CDKN2A, FOXA1, HOXD8, OCT4, SOX2, and SOX17) in 30 patients with germline TP53 mutations, 10 patients with wild-type TP53, and 10 healthy individuals. We also evaluated TDG expression in patients with adrenocortical tumors (ADR) with and without the p.R337H TP53 mutation. Gene methylation patterns of peripheral blood DNA samples assessed by pyrosequencing revealed no significant differences between the three groups. However, increased TDG expression was observed by quantitative reverse transcription PCR in p.R337H carriers with ADR. Considering the rarity of this phenotype and the relevance of these findings, further studies using a larger sample set are necessary to confirm our results.

Savlı H, Galimberti S, Sünnetçi D, et al.
Bortezomib and Arsenic Trioxide Activity on a Myelodysplastic Cell Line (P39): A Gene Expression Study.
Turk J Haematol. 2015; 32(3):206-12 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: We aimed to understand the molecular pathways affected by bortezomib and arsenic trioxide treatment on myelomonocytoid cell line P39.
METHODS: Oligonucleotide microarray platforms were used for gene expression and pathway analysis. Confirmation studies were performed using quantitative real time PCR.
RESULTS: Bortezomib treatment has shown upregulated DIABLO and NF-κBIB (a NF-κB inhibitor) and downregulated NF-κB1, NF-κB2, and BIRC1 gene expressions. Combination treatment of the two compounds showed gene expression deregulations in concordance by the results of single bortezomib treatment. Especially, P53 was a pathway more significantly modified and a gene network centralized around the beta estradiol gene. Beta estradiol, BRCA2, and FOXA1 genes were remarkable deregulations in our findings.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Results support the suggestions about possible use of proteasome inhibitors in the treatment of high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). NF-κB was observed as an important modulator in leukemic transformation of MDS.

Reddy OL, Cates JM, Gellert LL, et al.
Loss of FOXA1 Drives Sexually Dimorphic Changes in Urothelial Differentiation and Is an Independent Predictor of Poor Prognosis in Bladder Cancer.
Am J Pathol. 2015; 185(5):1385-95 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We previously found loss of forkhead box A1 (FOXA1) expression to be associated with aggressive urothelial carcinoma of the bladder, as well as increased tumor proliferation and invasion. These initial findings were substantiated by The Cancer Genome Atlas, which identified FOXA1 mutations in a subset of bladder cancers. However, the prognostic significance of FOXA1 inactivation and the effect of FOXA1 loss on urothelial differentiation remain unknown. Application of a univariate analysis (log-rank) and a multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression model revealed that loss of FOXA1 expression is an independent predictor of decreased overall survival. An ubiquitin Cre-driven system ablating Foxa1 expression in urothelium of adult mice resulted in sex-specific histologic alterations, with male mice developing urothelial hyperplasia and female mice developing keratinizing squamous metaplasia. Microarray analysis confirmed these findings and revealed a significant increase in cytokeratin 14 expression in the urothelium of the female Foxa1 knockout mouse and an increase in the expression of a number of genes normally associated with keratinocyte differentiation. IHC confirmed increased cytokeratin 14 expression in female bladders and additionally revealed enrichment of cytokeratin 14-positive basal cells in the hyperplastic urothelial mucosa in male Foxa1 knockout mice. Analysis of human tumor specimens confirmed a significant relationship between loss of FOXA1 and increased cytokeratin 14 expression.

Guo W, Keener AL, Jing Y, et al.
FOXA1 modulates EAF2 regulation of AR transcriptional activity, cell proliferation, and migration in prostate cancer cells.
Prostate. 2015; 75(9):976-87 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: ELL-associated factor 2 (EAF2) is an androgen-regulated tumor suppressor in the prostate. However, the mechanisms underlying tumor suppressive function of EAF2 are still largely unknown. Identification of factors capable of modulating EAF2 function will help elucidate the mechanisms underlying EAF2 tumor suppressive function.
METHODS: Using eaf-1(the ortholog of EAF2) mutant C. elegans model, RNAi screen was used to identify factors on the basis of their knockdown to synergistically enhance the reduced fertility phenotype of the eaf-1 mutant C. elegans. In human cells, the interaction of EAF2 with FOXA1 and the effect of EAF2 on the FOXA1 protein levels were determined by co-immunoprecipitation and protein stability assay. The effect of EAF2 and/or FOXA1 knockdown on the expression of AR-target genes was determined by real-time RT-PCR and luciferase reporter assays. The effect of EAF2 and/or FOXA1 knockdown on LNCaP human prostate cancer cell proliferation and migration was tested using BrdU assay and transwell migration assay.
RESULTS: RNAi screen identified pha-4, the C. elegans ortholog of mammalian FOXA1, on the basis of its knockdown to synergistically enhance the reduced fertility phenotype of the eaf-1 mutant C. elegans causing sterility. EAF2 co-immunoprecipitated with FOXA1. EAF2 knockdown enhanced endogenous FOXA1 protein level, whereas transfected GFP-EAF2 down-regulated the FOXA1 protein. Also, EAF2 knockdown enhanced the expression of AR-target genes, cell proliferation, and migration in LNCaP cells. However, FOXA1 knockdown inhibited the effect of EAF2 knockdown on AR-target gene expression, cell proliferation, and migration in LNCaP cells, suggesting that FOXA1 can modulate EAF2 regulation of AR transcriptional activation, cell proliferation, and migration.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that regulation of the AR signaling pathway, cell proliferation, and migration through FOXA1 represents an important mechanism of EAF2 suppression of prostate carcinogenesis.

Zheng L, Qian B, Tian D, et al.
FOXA1 positively regulates gene expression by changing gene methylation status in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2015; 8(1):96-106 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification with tumor suppressor gene silencing in cancer. The mechanisms underlying DNA methylation patterns are still poorly understood. This study aims to evaluate the potential value of FOXA1 for controlling gene CpG island methylation in breast cancer.
METHODS: FOXA1 was down-regulated by transfection with siRNA and up-regulated by transfection with plasmid in MCF-7 cell lines. The DNA methylation and mRNA levels were examined by qMSP and qRT-PCR. The cell proliferation and apoptosis was detected by MTT and Flow cytometry.
RESULTS: Suppression of FOXA1 enhanced the methylation status of DAPK, MGMT, RASSF1A, p53, and depressed mRNA levels of these tumor suppressor genes, whereas over-expression of FOXA1 showed the opposite effects. DNMT1, DNMT3A and DNMT3B mRNA were up-regulated by siRNA knock-down of FOXA1. At the same time, FOXA1 suppression promoted cell growth and inhibited apoptosis.
CONCLUSIONS: FOXA1 may be associated with methylation of the tumor suppressor genes promoter through changing DNMTs expression. FOXA1 could be a potential demethylation target for prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

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