Gene Summary

Gene:NSD3; nuclear receptor binding SET domain protein 3
Aliases: KMT3F, KMT3G, WHISTLE, WHSC1L1, pp14328
Summary:This gene is related to the Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome candidate-1 gene and encodes a protein with PWWP (proline-tryptophan-tryptophan-proline) domains. This protein methylates histone H3 at lysine residues 4 and 27, which represses gene transcription. Two alternatively spliced variants have been described. [provided by RefSeq, May 2015]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:histone-lysine N-methyltransferase NSD3
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (10)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 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.

  • Transcription Factors
  • Myeloid Leukemia
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Oncogenes
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Oncogene Fusion Proteins
  • Gene Amplification
  • Base Sequence
  • Leukaemia
  • Cell Survival
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Chromosome 8
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Histones
  • Breast Cancer
  • Thorax
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Epigenetics
  • siRNA
  • Oncogene Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Chromosome 11
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Adolescents
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Cell Cycle
  • FISH
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mutation
Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

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: NSD3 (cancer-related)

Zhang Y, Yan L, Yao W, et al.
Integrated Analysis of Genetic Abnormalities of the Histone Lysine Methyltransferases in Prostate Cancer.
Med Sci Monit. 2019; 25:193-239 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND The histone methyltransferase (HMT) family includes histone lysine methyltransferases (HKMTs) and histone/protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs). The role of HMT gene variants in prostate cancer remains unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate HMT gene variants in the pathogenesis and prognosis of human prostate cancer, using in vitro cell studies and bioinformatics analysis. MATERIAL AND METHODS Integrative bioinformatics analysis of the expression of 51 HMT genes in human prostate cancer was based on datasets from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Correlation and regression analysis were used to identify critical HMTs in prostate cancer. Kaplan-Meier and the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUROC) were performed to evaluate the function of the HMTs on prognosis. Gene expression and function of 22Rv1 human prostate carcinoma cells were studied. RESULTS The HMT genes identified to have a role in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer included the EZH2, SETD5, PRDM12, NSD1, SETD6, SMYD1, and the WHSC1L1 gene. The EZH2, SETD5, and SMYD1 genes were selected as a prognostic panel, with the SUV420H2 HMT gene. SETD2, NSD1, and ASH1L were identified as critical genes in the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), similar to mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) complex family members. Knockdown of the SETD5 gene in 22Rv1 prostate carcinoma cells in vitro inhibited cancer cell growth and migration. CONCLUSIONS HMT gene variants may have a role in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer. Future studies may determine the role of HMT genes as prognostic biomarkers in patients with prostate cancer.

French CA
NUT Carcinoma: Clinicopathologic features, pathogenesis, and treatment.
Pathol Int. 2018; 68(11):583-595 [PubMed] Related Publications
NUT carcinoma (NC) is a rare, aggressive subtype of squamous cell carcinoma defined by rearrangement of the NUTM1 (aka NUT) gene. NC is driven by NUT-fusion oncoproteins resulting from chromosomal translocation, most commonly BRD4-NUT. This is a nearly uniformly lethal cancer affecting patients of all ages, but predominantly teens and young adults. The cell of origin is unknown, but NC most commonly arises within the thorax and head and neck. NC typically consists of sheets of monomorphic primitive round cells that can exhibit focal abrupt squamous differentiation. Diagnosis of NC is easy, and can be established by positive NUT nuclear immunohistochemical staining. Though characterization of the NUTM1-fusion gene is desirable by molecular analysis, it is not required for the diagnosis. The increasingly widespread availability of the NUT diagnostic test is leading to increasing diagnoses of this vastly underdiagnosed disease. The NUT midline carcinoma registry (www.NMCRegistry.org) serves as a central repository that has provided the main source of clinical and outcomes data for NC. Currently there is no effective therapy for NC, however small molecules directly targeting the BRD4 portion of BRD4-NUT, termed BET bromodomain inhibitors, have shown activity.

Schaefer IM, Dal Cin P, Landry LM, et al.
CIC-NUTM1 fusion: A case which expands the spectrum of NUT-rearranged epithelioid malignancies.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2018; 57(9):446-451 [PubMed] Related Publications
NUT carcinoma (NC) shows very aggressive clinical behavior, occurs predominantly in the thorax and head and neck region of children and adults, and is defined by the presence of NUT (aka NUTM1) rearrangement, mostly BRD4-NUTM1 fusion resulting from t(15;19)(q13; p13.1). So-called "NUT variants" harbor alternate fusions between NUTM1 and BRD3, NSD3, ZNF532, or unknown partners. Rare cases of pediatric tumors with CIC-NUTM1 fusion were recently reported in somatic soft tissue, brain, and kidney. However, such cases have not been identified in adult patients and the presence of a fusion between CIC, characteristic of CIC-rearranged sarcoma, and NUTM1-a defining feature of NC-poses a diagnostic challenge. We herein report a case of malignant epithelioid neoplasm with myoepithelial features harboring CIC-NUTM1 fusion arising in soft tissue of the head in a 60-year-old man. Immunohistochemistry revealed strong expression of NUT, but only weak ETV4 staining and negativity for keratins, EMA, p40, CD99, and WT1. SMARCB1 expression was retained. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and targeted next-generation sequencing identified a CIC-NUTM1 fusion resulting from t(15;19)(q14;q13.2). In light of morphologic features that overlap with those of NC from typical anatomical sites we have seen previously, the tumor was best classified as falling within the NC spectrum rather than CIC-associated sarcoma. This case highlights the emerging diagnostic challenges generated by newly detected gene fusions of unknown clinical and biologic significance. Careful integration of cytogenetic, molecular, and immunohistochemical findings with morphologic appearances in the diagnostic workup of undifferentiated neoplasms is essential.

Liu Z, Piao L, Zhuang M, et al.
Silencing of histone methyltransferase NSD3 reduces cell viability in osteosarcoma with induction of apoptosis.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 38(5):2796-2802 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
NSD3 is a histone lysine methyltransferase that methylates histone H3 at lysine 36. NSD3 is located at chromosome 8p11.23, the locus that exhibits strong cancer relevance. Thus, NSD3 is likely involved in multiple human cancers. Nevertheless, its roles in human carcinogenesis remain unknown. In the present study, we demonstrated that silencing of NSD3 in osteosarcoma, the most common primary bone cancer in children and adolescents, results in a marked decrease in the number of viable cancer cells, accompanied by increases in the cell population at the G2/M phase and the number of apoptotic cells. In addition, 549 NSD3‑regulated genes were identified and a set of selected candidate genes were validated. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that NSD3 negatively regulates a number of genes that are involved in the process of negative regulation of signal transduction as well as negative regulation of signaling and cell communication. Our results indicate the oncogenic roles of NSD3 in the development and progression of human osteosarcoma, and implicate NSD3 as a potential molecular target for selective therapy for human osteosarcoma.

Turner-Ivey B, Smith EL, Rutkovsky AC, et al.
Development of mammary hyperplasia, dysplasia, and invasive ductal carcinoma in transgenic mice expressing the 8p11 amplicon oncogene NSD3.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2017; 164(2):349-358 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: NSD3 has been implicated as a candidate driver oncogene from the 8p11-p12 locus, and we have previously published evidence for its amplification and overexpression in human breast cancer. This aim of this study was to further characterize the transforming function of NSD3 in vivo.
METHODS: We generated a transgenic mouse model in which NSD3 gene expression was driven by the MMTV promoter and expressed in mammary epithelium of FVB mice. Mammary glands were fixed and whole mounts were stained with carmine to visualize gland structure. Mammary tumors were formalin-fixed, and paraffin embedded (FFPE) tumors were stained with hematoxylin and eosin.
RESULTS: Pups born to transgenic females were significantly underdeveloped compared to pups born to WT females due to a lactation defect in transgenic female mice. Whole mount analysis of the mammary glands of transgenic female mice revealed a profound defect in functional differentiation of mammary gland alveoli that resulted in the lactation defect. We followed parous and virgin NSD3 transgenic and control mice to 50 weeks of age and observed that several NSD3 parous females developed mammary tumors. Whole mount analysis of the mammary glands of tumor-bearing mice revealed numerous areas of mammary hyperplasia and ductal dysplasia. Histological analysis showed that mammary tumors were high-grade ductal carcinomas, and lesions present in other mammary glands exhibited features of alveolar hyperplasia, ductal dysplasia, and carcinoma in situ.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results are consistent with our previous studies and demonstrate that NSD3 is a transforming breast cancer oncogene.

Li Z, Ivanov AA, Su R, et al.
The OncoPPi network of cancer-focused protein-protein interactions to inform biological insights and therapeutic strategies.
Nat Commun. 2017; 8:14356 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
As genomics advances reveal the cancer gene landscape, a daunting task is to understand how these genes contribute to dysregulated oncogenic pathways. Integration of cancer genes into networks offers opportunities to reveal protein-protein interactions (PPIs) with functional and therapeutic significance. Here, we report the generation of a cancer-focused PPI network, termed OncoPPi, and identification of >260 cancer-associated PPIs not in other large-scale interactomes. PPI hubs reveal new regulatory mechanisms for cancer genes like MYC, STK11, RASSF1 and CDK4. As example, the NSD3 (WHSC1L1)-MYC interaction suggests a new mechanism for NSD3/BRD4 chromatin complex regulation of MYC-driven tumours. Association of undruggable tumour suppressors with drug targets informs therapeutic options. Based on OncoPPi-derived STK11-CDK4 connectivity, we observe enhanced sensitivity of STK11-silenced lung cancer cells to the FDA-approved CDK4 inhibitor palbociclib. OncoPPi is a focused PPI resource that links cancer genes into a signalling network for discovery of PPI targets and network-implicated tumour vulnerabilities for therapeutic interrogation.

Bennett RL, Swaroop A, Troche C, Licht JD
The Role of Nuclear Receptor-Binding SET Domain Family Histone Lysine Methyltransferases in Cancer.
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2017; 7(6) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The nuclear receptor-binding SET Domain (NSD) family of histone H3 lysine 36 methyltransferases is comprised of NSD1, NSD2 (MMSET/WHSC1), and NSD3 (WHSC1L1). These enzymes recognize and catalyze methylation of histone lysine marks to regulate chromatin integrity and gene expression. The growing number of reports demonstrating that alterations or translocations of these genes fundamentally affect cell growth and differentiation leading to developmental defects illustrates the importance of this family. In addition, overexpression, gain of function somatic mutations, and translocations of NSDs are associated with human cancer and can trigger cellular transformation in model systems. Here we review the functions of NSD family members and the accumulating evidence that these proteins play key roles in tumorigenesis. Because epigenetic therapy is an important emerging anticancer strategy, understanding the function of NSD family members may lead to the development of novel therapies.

Saloura V, Vougiouklakis T, Zewde M, et al.
WHSC1L1-mediated EGFR mono-methylation enhances the cytoplasmic and nuclear oncogenic activity of EGFR in head and neck cancer.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7:40664 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
While multiple post-translational modifications have been reported to regulate the function of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), the effect of protein methylation on its function has not been well characterized. In this study, we show that WHSC1L1 mono-methylates lysine 721 in the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR, and that this methylation leads to enhanced activation of its downstream ERK cascade without EGF stimulation. We also show that EGFR K721 mono-methylation not only affects the function of cytoplasmic EGFR, but also that of nuclear EGFR. WHSC1L1-mediated methylation of EGFR in the nucleus enhanced its interaction with PCNA in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) cells and resulted in enhanced DNA synthesis and cell cycle progression. Overall, our study demonstrates the multifaceted oncogenic function of the protein lysine methyltransferase WHSC1L1 in SCCHN, which is mediated through direct non-histone methylation of the EGFR protein with effects both in its cytoplasmic and nuclear functions.

Luo J, Liu S, Leung S, et al.
An mRNA Gene Expression-Based Signature to Identify FGFR1-Amplified Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Tumors.
J Mol Diagn. 2017; 19(1):147-161 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) amplification drives poor prognosis and is an emerging therapeutic target. We sought to construct a multigene mRNA expression signature to efficiently identify FGFR1-amplified estrogen receptor-positive (ER

Saloura V, Vougiouklakis T, Zewde M, et al.
WHSC1L1 drives cell cycle progression through transcriptional regulation of CDC6 and CDK2 in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(27):42527-42538 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Wolf-Hisrchhorn Syndrome Candidate 1-Like 1 (WHSC1L1) is a protein lysine methyltransferase that is recurrently amplified (8p11.23) in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). In this study, we investigated the oncogenic role of WHSC1L1 in SCCHN. Using immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays of patients with locoregionally advanced SCCHN, we found that WHSC1L1 is significantly overexpressed in patients with SCCHN, and is associated with poor grade and heavy smoking history. Knockdown of WHSC1L1 expression resulted in significant growth suppression and reduction of H3K36 dimethylation (H3K36me2) in SCCHN cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that WHSC1L1 and H3K36me2 are enriched in the gene bodies of the cell cycle-related genes CDC6 and CDK2, implying that WHSC1L1 directly regulates the transcription of these genes. According to the importance of CDC6 and CDK2 for G1 to S transition, WHSC1L1 knockdown induced strong G0/G1 arrest which was rescued by introduction of wild-type WHSC1L1 but not by that of enzyme-inactive WHSC1L1. Our results imply that WHSC1L1 and its product H3K36me2 are essential for the transition from G1 to S phase in SCCHN cells and that WHSC1L1 could serve as a rational target for anticancer drug development for patients with head and neck cancer.

Irish JC, Mills JN, Turner-Ivey B, et al.
Amplification of WHSC1L1 regulates expression and estrogen-independent activation of ERα in SUM-44 breast cancer cells and is associated with ERα over-expression in breast cancer.
Mol Oncol. 2016; 10(6):850-65 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The 8p11-p12 amplicon occurs in approximately 15% of breast cancers in aggressive luminal B-type tumors. Previously, we identified WHSC1L1 as a driving oncogene from this region. Here, we demonstrate that over-expression of WHSC1L1 is linked to over-expression of ERα in SUM-44 breast cancer cells and in primary human breast cancers. Knock-down of WHSC1L1, particularly WHSC1L1-short, had a dramatic effect on ESR1 mRNA and ERα protein levels. SUM-44 cells do not require exogenous estrogen for growth in vitro; however, they are dependent on ERα expression, as ESR1 knock-down or exposure to the selective estrogen receptor degrader fulvestrant resulted in growth inhibition. ChIP-Seq experiments utilizing ERα antibodies demonstrated extensive ERα binding to chromatin in SUM-44 cells under estrogen-free conditions. ERα bound to ERE and FOXA1 motifs under estrogen-free conditions and regulated expression of estrogen-responsive genes. Short-term treatment with estradiol enhanced binding of ERα to chromatin and influenced expression of many of the same genes to which ERα was bound under estrogen-free conditions. Finally, knock-down of WHSC1L1 in SUM-44 cells resulted in loss of ERα binding to chromatin under estrogen-free conditions, which was restored upon exposure to estradiol. These results indicate the SUM-44 cells are a good model of a subset of luminal B breast cancers that have the 8p11-p12 amplicon, over-express WHSC1L1, and over-express ERα, but are independent of estrogen for binding to chromatin and regulation of gene expression. Breast cancers such as these, that are dependent on ERα activity but independent of estradiol, are a major cause of breast cancer mortality.

Mariano FV, Giovanetti K, Saccomani LF, et al.
Carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma derived from recurrent pleomorphic adenoma shows important difference by array CGH compared to recurrent pleomorphic adenoma without malignant transformation.
Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2016 Nov - Dec; 82(6):687-694 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: A key step of cancer development is the progressive accumulation of genomic changes resulting in disruption of several biological mechanisms. Carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma (CXPA) is an aggressive neoplasm that arises from a pleomorphic adenoma. CXPA derived from a recurrent PA (RPA) has been rarely reported, and the genomic changes associated with these tumors have not yet been studied.
OBJECTIVE: We analyzed CXPA from RPAs and RPAs without malignant transformation using array-comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) to identify somatic copy number alterations and affected genes.
METHODS: DNA samples extracted from FFPE tumors were submitted to array-CGH investigation, and data was analyzed by Nexus Copy Number Discovery Edition v.7.
RESULTS: No somatic copy number alterations were found in RPAs without malignant transformation. As for CXPA from RPA, although genomic profiles were unique for each case, we detected some chromosomal regions that appear to be preferentially affected by copy number alterations. The first case of CXPA-RPA (frankly invasive myoepithelial carcinoma) showed copy number alterations affecting 1p36.33p13, 5p and chromosomes 3 and 8. The second case of CXPA-RPA (frankly invasive epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma) showed several alterations at chromosomes 3, 8, and 16, with two amplifications at 8p12p11.21 and 12q14.3q21.2. The third case of CXPA-RPA (minimally invasive epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma) exhibited amplifications at 12q13.3q14.1, 12q14.3, and 12q15.
CONCLUSION: The occurrence of gains at chromosomes 3 and 8 and genomic amplifications at 8p and 12q, mainly those encompassing the HMGA2, MDM2, WIF1, WHSC1L1, LIRG3, CDK4 in CXAP from RPA can be a significant promotional factor in malignant transformation.

Rooney C, Geh C, Williams V, et al.
Characterization of FGFR1 Locus in sqNSCLC Reveals a Broad and Heterogeneous Amplicon.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(2):e0149628 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
FGFR1 amplification occurs in ~20% of sqNSCLC and trials with FGFR inhibitors have selected FGFR1 amplified patients by FISH. Lung cancer cell lines were profiled for sensitivity to AZD4547, a potent, selective inhibitor of FGFRs 1-3. Sensitivity to FGFR inhibition was associated with but not wholly predicted by increased FGFR1 gene copy number. Additional biomarker assays evaluating expression of FGFRs and correlation between amplification and expression in clinical tissues are therefore warranted. We validated nanoString for mRNA expression analysis of 194 genes, including FGFRs, from clinical tumour tissue. In a panel of sqNSCLC tumours 14.4% (13/90) were FGFR1 amplified by FISH. Although mean FGFR1 expression was significantly higher in amplified samples, there was significant overlap in the range of expression levels between the amplified and non-amplified cohorts with several non-amplified samples expressing FGFR1 to levels equivalent to amplified samples. Statistical analysis revealed increased expression of FGFR1 neighboring genes on the 8p12 amplicon (BAG4, LSM1 and WHSC1L1) in FGFR1 amplified tumours, suggesting a broad rather than focal amplicon and raises the potential for codependencies. High resolution aCGH analysis of pre-clinical and clinical samples supported the presence of a broad and heterogeneous amplicon around the FGFR1 locus. In conclusion, the range of FGFR1 expression levels in both FGFR1 amplified and non-amplified NSCLC tissues, together with the breadth and intra-patient heterogeneity of the 8p amplicon highlights the need for gene expression analysis of clinical samples to inform the understanding of determinants of response to FGFR inhibitors. In this respect the nanoString platform provides an attractive option for RNA analysis of FFPE clinical samples.

Shen C, Ipsaro JJ, Shi J, et al.
NSD3-Short Is an Adaptor Protein that Couples BRD4 to the CHD8 Chromatin Remodeler.
Mol Cell. 2015; 60(6):847-59 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) protein BRD4 is a therapeutic target in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here, we demonstrate that the AML maintenance function of BRD4 requires its interaction with NSD3, which belongs to a subfamily of H3K36 methyltransferases. Unexpectedly, AML cells were found to only require a short isoform of NSD3 that lacks the methyltransferase domain. We show that NSD3-short is an adaptor protein that sustains leukemia by linking BRD4 to the CHD8 chromatin remodeler, by using a PWWP chromatin reader module, and by employing an acidic transactivation domain. Genetic targeting of NSD3 or CHD8 mimics the phenotypic and transcriptional effects of BRD4 inhibition. Furthermore, BRD4, NSD3, and CHD8 colocalize across the AML genome, and each is released from super-enhancer regions upon chemical inhibition of BET bromodomains. These findings suggest that BET inhibitors exert therapeutic effects in leukemia by evicting BRD4-NSD3-CHD8 complexes from chromatin to suppress transcription.

Harms A, Herpel E, Pfarr N, et al.
NUT carcinoma of the thorax: Case report and review of the literature.
Lung Cancer. 2015; 90(3):484-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
NUT (nuclear protein in testis) carcinomas are exceedingly rare neoplasms with specific molecular alterations and often follow a devastating course. Thus, a precise early diagnosis is of utmost importance. Known from the sinonasal region for years, the new 2015 WHO classification now also recognizes the existence of this entity in the thorax, specifically the lungs and the mediastinum. However, yet available data on this entity are sparse. Here, we report on a 31 years old female patient with an aggressively growing tumor localized in the median line that was initially sampled by endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial biopsies. Pathological assessment of the biopsy specimens revealed a NUT carcinoma with typical morphological characteristics and an uncommon NUT translocation variant with a NSD3-NUT fusion. Diagnosis was further confirmed in the subsequent resection specimen. We describe specific clinical, histomorphological, and molecular characteristics of this tumor and provide a comprehensive review of the current literature on these rare neoplasms.

Katoh M
Mutation spectra of histone methyltransferases with canonical SET domains and EZH2-targeted therapy.
Epigenomics. 2016; 8(2):285-305 [PubMed] Related Publications
Germline mutations in canonical SET-methyltransferases have been identified in autism and intellectual disability syndromes and gain-of-function somatic alterations in EZH2, MLL3, NSD1, WHSC1 (NSD2) and WHSC1L1 (NSD3) in cancer. EZH2 interacts with AR, ERα, β-catenin, FOXP3, NF-κB, PRC2, REST and SNAI2, resulting in context-dependent transcriptional activation and repression. Pharmacological EZH2 inhibitors are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of B-cell lymphomas and solid tumors. EZH2 inhibitors might also be applicable in the treatment of SWI/SNF-mutant cancers, reflecting the reciprocal expression of and functional overlap between EZH2 and SMARCA4. Because of the risks for autoimmune diseases, cognitive impairment, cardiomyopathy and myelodysplastic syndrome, EZH2 inhibitors should be utilized for cancer treatment in patients receiving long-term surveillance but not for cancer chemoprevention.

Liu L, Kimball S, Liu H, et al.
Genetic alterations of histone lysine methyltransferases and their significance in breast cancer.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(4):2466-82 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Histone lysine methyltransferases (HMTs), a large class of enzymes that catalyze site-specific methylation of lysine residues on histones and other proteins, play critical roles in controlling transcription, chromatin architecture, and cellular differentiation. However, the genomic landscape and clinical significance of HMTs in breast cancer remain poorly characterized. Here, we conducted a meta-analysis of approximately 50 HMTs in breast cancer and identified associations among recurrent copy number alterations, mutations, gene expression, and clinical outcome. We identified 12 HMTs with the highest frequency of genetic alterations, including 8 with high-level amplification, 2 with putative homozygous deletion, and 2 with somatic mutation. Different subtypes of breast cancer have different patterns of copy number and expression for each HMT gene. In addition, chromosome 1q contains four HMTs that are concurrently or independently amplified or overexpressed in breast cancer. Copy number or mRNA expression of several HMTs was significantly associated with basal-like breast cancer and shorter patient survival. Integrative analysis identified 8 HMTs (SETDB1, SMYD3, ASH1L, SMYD2, WHSC1L1, SUV420H1, SETDB2, and KMT2C) that are dysregulated by genetic alterations, classifying them as candidate therapeutic targets. Together, our findings provide a strong foundation for further mechanistic research and therapeutic options using HMTs to treat breast cancer.

Suzuki S, Kurabe N, Ohnishi I, et al.
NSD3-NUT-expressing midline carcinoma of the lung: first characterization of primary cancer tissue.
Pathol Res Pract. 2015; 211(5):404-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Nuclear protein in testis (NUT) midline carcinoma (NMC) is a rare, aggressive malignancy. Only two pediatric and three adult cases of pulmonary NMCs have been documented. In more than two-thirds of NMC cases, a gene fusion between NUT and BRD4 or BRD3 has been documented; other fusions are rare.
CASE PRESENTATION: A 36-year-old woman was admitted because of a rapidly progressing tumor of the lung with metastases to the breast and bone. A biopsy from the lung tumor revealed an undifferentiated neoplasm exhibiting round to oval nuclei with vesicular chromatin, prominent nucleoli, and scant cytoplasm. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated focal EMA, cytokeratin AE1/AE3, cytokeratin CAM 5.2, p63, CD138, and vimentin positivity. Finally, the nuclear staining pattern for NUT confirmed a histopathological diagnosis of NMC. A 5'- rapid amplification of the cDNA end (RACE) procedure successfully identified the partner of the NUT translocation as NSD3, a recently discovered partner. Fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the NSD3-NUT gene rearrangement, whereas a BRD3/4-NUT fusion gene was not detected.
CONCLUSION: We herein describe the first case of an NSD3-NUT-expressing NMC of the lung. The further accumulation of variant NMCs should provide clues to the establishment of new individualized therapy for NMCs.

Severson PL, Vrba L, Stampfer MR, Futscher BW
Exome-wide mutation profile in benzo[a]pyrene-derived post-stasis and immortal human mammary epithelial cells.
Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen. 2014; 775-776:48-54 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Genetic mutations are known to drive cancer progression and certain tumors have mutation signatures that reflect exposures to environmental carcinogens. Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) has a known mutation signature and has proven capable of inducing changes to DNA sequence that drives normal pre-stasis human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC) past a first tumor suppressor barrier (stasis) and toward immortality. We analyzed normal, pre-stasis HMEC, three independent BaP-derived post-stasis HMEC strains (184Aa, 184Be, 184Ce) and two of their immortal derivatives(184A1 and 184BE1) by whole exome sequencing. The independent post-stasis strains exhibited between 93 and 233 BaP-induced mutations in exons. Seventy percent of the mutations were C:G>A:T transversions, consistent with the known mutation spectrum of BaP. Mutations predicted to impact protein function occurred in several known and putative cancer drivers including p16, PLCG1, MED12, TAF1 in 184Aa; PIK3CG, HSP90AB1, WHSC1L1, LCP1 in 184Be and FANCA, LPP in 184Ce. Biological processes that typically harbor cancer driver mutations such as cell cycle, regulation of cell death and proliferation, RNA processing, chromatin modification and DNA repair were found to have mutations predicted to impact function in each of the post-stasis strains. Spontaneously immortalized HMEC lines derived from two of the BaP-derived post-stasis strains shared greater than 95% of their BaP-induced mutations with their precursor cells. These immortal HMEC had 10 or fewer additional point mutations relative to their post-stasis precursors, but acquired chromosomal anomalies during immortalization that arose independent of BaP. The results of this study indicate that acute exposures of HMEC to high dose BaP recapitulate mutation patterns of human tumors and can induce mutations in a number of cancer driver genes.

French CA, Rahman S, Walsh EM, et al.
NSD3-NUT fusion oncoprotein in NUT midline carcinoma: implications for a novel oncogenic mechanism.
Cancer Discov. 2014; 4(8):928-41 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UNLABELLED: NUT midline carcinoma (NMC) is an aggressive subtype of squamous cell carcinoma that typically harbors BRD4/3-NUT fusion oncoproteins that block differentiation and maintain tumor growth. In 20% of cases, NUT is fused to uncharacterized non-BRD gene(s). We established a new patient-derived NMC cell line (1221) and demonstrated that it harbors a novel NSD3-NUT fusion oncogene. We find that NSD3-NUT is both necessary and sufficient for the blockade of differentiation and maintenance of proliferation in NMC cells. NSD3-NUT binds to BRD4, and BRD bromodomain inhibitors induce differentiation and arrest proliferation of 1221 cells. We find further that NSD3 is required for the blockade of differentiation in BRD4-NUT-expressing NMCs. These findings identify NSD3 as a novel critical oncogenic component and potential therapeutic target in NMC.
SIGNIFICANCE: The existence of a family of fusion oncogenes in squamous cell carcinoma is unprecedented, and should lead to key insights into aberrant differentiation in NMC and possibly other squamous cell carcinomas. The involvement of the NSD3 methyltransferase as a component of the NUT fusion protein oncogenic complex identifies a new potential therapeutic target.

Chen Y, McGee J, Chen X, et al.
Identification of druggable cancer driver genes amplified across TCGA datasets.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(5):e98293 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) projects have advanced our understanding of the driver mutations, genetic backgrounds, and key pathways activated across cancer types. Analysis of TCGA datasets have mostly focused on somatic mutations and translocations, with less emphasis placed on gene amplifications. Here we describe a bioinformatics screening strategy to identify putative cancer driver genes amplified across TCGA datasets. We carried out GISTIC2 analysis of TCGA datasets spanning 16 cancer subtypes and identified 486 genes that were amplified in two or more datasets. The list was narrowed to 75 cancer-associated genes with potential "druggable" properties. The majority of the genes were localized to 14 amplicons spread across the genome. To identify potential cancer driver genes, we analyzed gene copy number and mRNA expression data from individual patient samples and identified 42 putative cancer driver genes linked to diverse oncogenic processes. Oncogenic activity was further validated by siRNA/shRNA knockdown and by referencing the Project Achilles datasets. The amplified genes represented a number of gene families, including epigenetic regulators, cell cycle-associated genes, DNA damage response/repair genes, metabolic regulators, and genes linked to the Wnt, Notch, Hedgehog, JAK/STAT, NF-KB and MAPK signaling pathways. Among the 42 putative driver genes were known driver genes, such as EGFR, ERBB2 and PIK3CA. Wild-type KRAS was amplified in several cancer types, and KRAS-amplified cancer cell lines were most sensitive to KRAS shRNA, suggesting that KRAS amplification was an independent oncogenic event. A number of MAP kinase adapters were co-amplified with their receptor tyrosine kinases, such as the FGFR adapter FRS2 and the EGFR family adapters GRB2 and GRB7. The ubiquitin-like ligase DCUN1D1 and the histone methyltransferase NSD3 were also identified as novel putative cancer driver genes. We discuss the patient tailoring implications for existing cancer drug targets and we further discuss potential novel opportunities for drug discovery efforts.

Mahmood SF, Gruel N, Nicolle R, et al.
PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 are common drivers of the 8p11-12 amplicon, not only in breast tumors but also in pancreatic adenocarcinomas and lung tumors.
Am J Pathol. 2013; 183(5):1634-1644 [PubMed] Related Publications
Amplification of the 8p11-12 chromosomal region is a common genetic event in many epithelial cancers. In breast cancer, several genes within this region have been shown to display oncogenic activity. Among these genes, the enzyme-encoding genes, PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1, have been identified as potential therapeutic targets. We investigated whether PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 acted as general driver genes, thereby serving as therapeutic targets in other tumors with 8p11-12 amplification. By using publicly available genomic data from a panel of 883 cell lines derived from different cancers, we identified the cell lines presenting amplification of both WHSC1L1 and PPAPDC1B. In particular, we focused on cell lines derived from lung cancer and pancreatic adenocarcinoma and found a correlation between the amplification of PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 with their overexpression. Loss-of-function studies based on the use of siRNA and shRNA demonstrated that PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 played a major role in regulating the survival of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and small-cell lung cancer-derived cell lines, both in anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent conditions, displaying amplification and overexpression of these genes. We also demonstrated that PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 regulated xenograft growth in these cell lines. Finally, quantitative RT-PCR experiments after PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 knockdown revealed exclusive PPAPDC1B and WHSC1L1 gene targets in small-cell lung cancer and pancreatic adenocarcinoma-derived cell lines compared with breast cancer.

Shiba N, Ichikawa H, Taki T, et al.
NUP98-NSD1 gene fusion and its related gene expression signature are strongly associated with a poor prognosis in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2013; 52(7):683-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cryptic t(5;11)(q35;p15.5) creates a fusion gene between the NUP98 and NSD1 genes. To ascertain the significance of this gene fusion, we explored its frequency, clinical impact, and gene expression pattern using DNA microarray in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. NUP98-NSD1 fusion transcripts were detected in 6 (4.8%) of 124 pediatric AML patients. Supervised hierarchical clustering analyses using probe sets that were differentially expressed in these patients detected a characteristic gene expression pattern, including 18 NUP98-NSD1-negative patients (NUP98-NSD1-like patients). In total, a NUP98-NSD1-related gene expression signature (NUP98-NSD1 signature) was found in 19% (24/124) and in 58% (15/26) of cytogenetically normal cases. Their 4-year overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) were poor (33.3% in NUP98-NSD1-positive and 38.9% in NUP98-NSD1-like patients) compared with 100 NUP98-NSD1 signature-negative patients (4-year OS: 86.0%, 4-year EFS: 72.0%). Interestingly, t(7;11)(p15;p15)/NUP98-HOXA13, t(6;11)(q27;q23)/MLL-MLLT4 and t(6;9)(p22;q34)/DEK-NUP214, which are known as poor prognostic markers, were found in NUP98-NSD1-like patients. Furthermore, another type of NUP98-NSD1 fusion transcript was identified by additional RT-PCR analyses using other primers in a NUP98-NSD1-like patient, revealing the significance of this signature to detect NUP98-NSD1 gene fusions and to identify a new poor prognostic subgroup in AML.

Kang D, Cho HS, Toyokawa G, et al.
The histone methyltransferase Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome candidate 1-like 1 (WHSC1L1) is involved in human carcinogenesis.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2013; 52(2):126-39 [PubMed] Related Publications
Histone lysine methylation plays a fundamental role in chromatin organization. Although a set of histone methyltransferases have been identified and biochemically characterized, the pathological roles of their dysfunction in human cancers are still not well understood. In this study, we demonstrate important roles of WHSC1L1 in human carcinogenesis. Expression levels of WHSC1L1 transcript were significantly elevated in various human cancers including bladder carcinoma. Immunohistochemical analysis of bladder, lung, and liver cancers confirmed overexpression of WHSC1L1. WHSC1L1-specific small interfering RNAs significantly knocked down its expression and resulted in suppression of proliferation of bladder and lung cancer cell lines. WHSC1L1 knockdown induced cell cycle arrest at the G(2)/M phase followed by multinucleation of cancer cells. Expression profile analysis using Affymetrix GeneChip(®) showed that WHSC1L1 affected the expression of a number of genes including CCNG1 and NEK7, which are known to play crucial roles in the cell cycle progression at mitosis. As WHSC1L1 expression is significantly low in various normal tissues including vital organs, WHSC1L1 could be a good candidate molecule for development of novel treatment for various types of cancer.

Mann KM, Ward JM, Yew CC, et al.
Sleeping Beauty mutagenesis reveals cooperating mutations and pathways in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012; 109(16):5934-41 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers affecting the Western world. Because the disease is highly metastatic and difficult to diagnosis until late stages, the 5-y survival rate is around 5%. The identification of molecular cancer drivers is critical for furthering our understanding of the disease and development of improved diagnostic tools and therapeutics. We have conducted a mutagenic screen using Sleeping Beauty (SB) in mice to identify new candidate cancer genes in pancreatic cancer. By combining SB with an oncogenic Kras allele, we observed highly metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Using two independent statistical methods to identify loci commonly mutated by SB in these tumors, we identified 681 loci that comprise 543 candidate cancer genes (CCGs); 75 of these CCGs, including Mll3 and Ptk2, have known mutations in human pancreatic cancer. We identified point mutations in human pancreatic patient samples for another 11 CCGs, including Acvr2a and Map2k4. Importantly, 10% of the CCGs are involved in chromatin remodeling, including Arid4b, Kdm6a, and Nsd3, and all SB tumors have at least one mutated gene involved in this process; 20 CCGs, including Ctnnd1, Fbxo11, and Vgll4, are also significantly associated with poor patient survival. SB mutagenesis provides a rich resource of mutations in potential cancer drivers for cross-comparative analyses with ongoing sequencing efforts in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Dutt A, Ramos AH, Hammerman PS, et al.
Inhibitor-sensitive FGFR1 amplification in human non-small cell lung cancer.
PLoS One. 2011; 6(6):e20351 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Squamous cell lung carcinomas account for approximately 25% of new lung carcinoma cases and 40,000 deaths per year in the United States. Although there are multiple genomically targeted therapies for lung adenocarcinoma, none has yet been reported in squamous cell lung carcinoma.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using SNP array analysis, we found that a region of chromosome segment 8p11-12 containing three genes-WHSC1L1, LETM2, and FGFR1-is amplified in 3% of lung adenocarcinomas and 21% of squamous cell lung carcinomas. Furthermore, we demonstrated that a non-small cell lung carcinoma cell line harboring focal amplification of FGFR1 is dependent on FGFR1 activity for cell growth, as treatment of this cell line either with FGFR1-specific shRNAs or with FGFR small molecule enzymatic inhibitors leads to cell growth inhibition.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These studies show that FGFR1 amplification is common in squamous cell lung cancer, and that FGFR1 may represent a promising therapeutic target in non-small cell lung cancer.

Morishita M, di Luccio E
Cancers and the NSD family of histone lysine methyltransferases.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011; 1816(2):158-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
Both genetic and epigenetic alterations are responsible for the stepwise initiation and progression of cancers. Only epigenetic aberrations can be reversible, allowing the malignant cell population to revert to a more benign phenotype. The epigenetic therapy of cancers is emerging as an effective and valuable approach to both the chemotherapy and the chemoprevention of cancer. The utilization of epigenetic targets that include histone methyltransferase (HMTase), Histone deacetylatase, and DNA methyltransferase, are emerging as key therapeutic targets. The nuclear receptor binding SET domain (NSD) protein is a family of three HMTases, NSD1, NSD2/MMSET/WHSC1, and NSD3/WHSC1L1, and plays a critical part in chromatin integrity as evidenced by a growing number of conditions linked to the alterations and/or amplification of NSD1, NSD2, and/or NSD3. NSD1, NSD2 and NSD3 are associated with multiple cancers. The amplification of either NSD1 or NSD2 triggers the cellular transformation and thus is key in the early carcinogenesis events. In most cases, reducing the levels of NSD proteins would suppress cancer growth. NSD1 and NSD2 were isolated as genes linked to developmental diseases, such as Sotos syndrome and Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, respectively, implying versatile aspects of the NSD proteins. The NSD pathways, however, are not well understood. It is noteworthy that the NSD family is phylogenetically distinct compared to other known lysine-HMTases, Here, we review the current knowledge on NSD1/NSD2/NSD3 in tumorigenesis and prospect their special value for developing novel anticancer drugs.

Yang ZQ, Liu G, Bollig-Fischer A, et al.
Transforming properties of 8p11-12 amplified genes in human breast cancer.
Cancer Res. 2010; 70(21):8487-97 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Amplification of the 8p11-12 region has been found in about 15% of human breast cancers and is associated with poor prognosis. Earlier, we used genomic analysis of copy number and gene expression to perform a detailed analysis of the 8p11-12 amplicon to identify candidate oncogenes in breast cancer. We identified 21 candidate genes and provided evidence that three genes, namely, LSM-1, TC-1, and BAG4, have transforming properties when overexpressed. In the present study, we systematically investigated the transforming properties of 13 newly identified 8p11-12 candidate oncogenes in vitro. WHSC1L1, DDHD2, and ERLIN2 were most potently transforming oncogenes based on the number of altered phenotypes expressed by the cells. WHSC1L1 contains a PWWP-domain that is a methyl-lysine recognition motif involved in histone code modification and epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Knockdown of WHSC1L1 in 8p11-12-amplified breast cancer cells resulted in profound loss of growth and survival of these cells. Further, we identified several WHSC1L1 target genes, one of which is iroquois homeobox 3 gene (IRX3), a member of the Iroquois homeobox transcription factor family.

Zhou Z, Thomsen R, Kahns S, Nielsen AL
The NSD3L histone methyltransferase regulates cell cycle and cell invasion in breast cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010; 398(3):565-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
NSD3/WHSC1L1 histone methyltransferase gene aberrations are observed in leukemia and in breast and lung carcinomas, suggesting that NSD3 is implicated in carcinogenesis. In this study we examined in human breast cancer cells the NSD3L isoform which contains the catalytic histone methyltransferase SET-domain. siRNA directed depletion of NSD3L followed by genome-wide microarray analysis identified NSD3L regulated genes which could be functionally linked to cellular signaling pathways such as cell growth, cell cycle, cell motility, transcription, and apoptosis. Notably up-regulated genes are the cell cycle regulators E2F2 and Arl2. In accordance with a function of NSD3L in cell cycle regulation NSD3L depletion resulted in an increase in the number of cells in the S and G2/M cell cycle phases. Moreover, NSD3L depletion increased the invasiveness of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells indicating that NSD3L normally restrain cellular metastatic potential. Together the presented data indicates that NSD3L is a candidate tumor suppressor.

Taketani T, Taki T, Nakamura H, et al.
NUP98-NSD3 fusion gene in radiation-associated myelodysplastic syndrome with t(8;11)(p11;p15) and expression pattern of NSD family genes.
Cancer Genet Cytogenet. 2009; 190(2):108-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chromosomal 11p15 abnormality of therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome (t-MDS)-acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is rare. NUP98-NSD3 fusion transcripts have been detected previously in one patient with AML and one patient with t-MDS having t(8;11)(p11;p15). Here we present the case of a 60-year-old man with radiation-associated MDS (r-MDS) carrying chromosome abnormalities, including t(8;11)(p11;p15) and del(1)(p22p32). Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis demonstrated that the NUP98 gene at 11p15 was split by the translocation. Southern blot analysis of bone marrow cells showed both rearrangements of NUP98 and NSD3 genes. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) followed by sequence analysis revealed the presence of both NUP98-NSD3 and NSD3-NUP98 fusion transcripts. Expression analysis by RT-PCR showed that NSD3 as well as NSD1 and NSD2 was ubiquitously expressed in leukemic cell lines and Epstein-Barr virus transformed B lymphocyte cell lines derived from the normal adult lymphocytes examined. Two isoforms of NSD3, NSD3S and NSD3L (but not NSD3L2), were expressed in leukemic cell lines and were fused to NUP98 in our patient, suggesting that qualitative change of these two isoforms of NSD3 by fusion with NUP98 might be related to leukemogenesis, although the function of each isoform of the NSD3 gene remains unclear.

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