ELF5 modulates the estrogen receptor cistrome in breast cancer

Catherine L. Piggin, Daniel L. Roden, Andrew M. K. Law, Mark P. Molloy, Christoph Krisp, Alexander Swarbrick, Matthew J. Naylor, Maria Kalyuga, Warren Kaplan, Samantha R. Oakes, David Gallego-Ortega, Susan J. Clark, Jason S. Carroll, Nenad Bartonicek, Christopher J. Ormandy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Acquired resistance to endocrine therapy is responsible for half of the therapeutic failures in the treatment of breast cancer. Recent findings have implicated increased expression of the ETS transcription factor ELF5 as a potential modulator of estrogen action and driver of endocrine resistance, and here we provide the first insight into the mechanisms by which ELF5 modulates estrogen sensitivity. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing we found that ELF5 binding overlapped with FOXA1 and ER at super enhancers, enhancers and promoters, and when elevated, caused FOXA1 and ER to bind to new regions of the genome, in a pattern that replicated the alterations to the ER/FOXA1 cistrome caused by the acquisition of resistance to endocrine therapy. RNA sequencing demonstrated that these changes altered estrogen-driven patterns of gene expression, the expression of ER transcription-complex members, and 6 genes known to be involved in driving the acquisition of endocrine resistance. Using rapid immunoprecipitation mass spectrometry of endogenous proteins, and proximity ligation assays, we found that ELF5 interacted physically with members of the ER transcription complex, such as DNA-PKcs. We found 2 cases of endocrine-resistant brain metastases where ELF5 levels were greatly increased and ELF5 patterns of gene expression were enriched, compared to the matched primary tumour. Thus ELF5 alters ER-driven gene expression by modulating the ER/FOXA1 cistrome, by interacting with it, and by modulating the expression of members of the ER transcriptional complex, providing multiple mechanisms by which ELF5 can drive endocrine resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008531
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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