Gene Summary

Gene:SMARCA4; SWI/SNF related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 4
Aliases: BRG1, SNF2, SWI2, MRD16, RTPS2, BAF190, SNF2L4, SNF2LB, hSNF2b, BAF190A
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the SWI/SNF family of proteins and is similar to the brahma protein of Drosophila. Members of this family have helicase and ATPase activities and are thought to regulate transcription of certain genes by altering the chromatin structure around those genes. The encoded protein is part of the large ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complex SNF/SWI, which is required for transcriptional activation of genes normally repressed by chromatin. In addition, this protein can bind BRCA1, as well as regulate the expression of the tumorigenic protein CD44. Mutations in this gene cause rhabdoid tumor predisposition syndrome type 2. Multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, May 2012]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:transcription activator BRG1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 16 March, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 16 March 2015 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.

Tag cloud generated 16 March, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

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: SMARCA4 (cancer-related)

Vanacker L, Smeets D, Hoorens A, et al.
Mixed adenoneuroendocrine carcinoma of the colon: molecular pathogenesis and treatment.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(10):5517-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: We report a case of a mixed adenoneuroendocrine carcinoma developed in a colorectal adenocarcinoma with lymph node and liver metastases exclusively emanating from the neuroendocrine carcinoma component. The patient underwent right hemicolectomy and postoperatively received chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide and subsequent high-dose induction chemotherapy, followed by autologous stem cell transplantation. Following this treatment, there was a complete remission. Currently, thirty months after treatment, the patient is in unmaintained complete remission. Comparative exome sequencing of germline DNA and DNA from the two separate malignant components revealed six somatic changes in cancer consensus genes. Both components shared somatic mutations in Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS), B-cell CLL/lymphoma 9 (BCL9) and Forkhead Box P1 (FOXP1) genes. Mutation in SWI/SNF related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 4 (SMARCA4) was only found in the neuroendocrine carcinoma component. The finding of several identical somatic mutations in both components supports a clonal relationship between the neuroendocrine carcinoma and the adenocarcinoma. We suggest that a mutation in SMARCA4 could be responsible for the transformation of the adenocarcinoma component into the neuroendocrine phenotype.

Faraj SF, Chaux A, Gonzalez-Roibon N, et al.
ARID1A immunohistochemistry improves outcome prediction in invasive urothelial carcinoma of urinary bladder.
Hum Pathol. 2014; 45(11):2233-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
AT-rich interactive domain 1A (ARID1A) is tumor suppressor gene that interacts with BRG1 adenosine triphosphatase to form a SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling protein complex. Inactivation of ARID1A has been described in several neoplasms, including epithelial ovarian and endometrial carcinomas, and has been correlated with prognosis. In the current study, ARID1A expression in urothelial carcinoma (UC) of the bladder and its association with clinicopathological parameters and outcome are addressed. Five tissue microarrays were constructed from 136 cystectomy specimens performed for UC at our institution. Nuclear ARID1A staining was evaluated using immunohistochemistry. An H-score was calculated as the sum of the products of intensity (0-3) multiplied by extent of expression (0%-100%). Average H-score per case was used for statistical analysis. ARID1A expression was categorized in low and high using Youden index to define the cut point. ARID1A expression significantly increased from normal to noninvasive UC to invasive UC. For both tumor progression and cancer death, Youden index yielded an H-score of 288 as the optimal cut point for ARID1A expression. Low ARID1A expression showed a tendency for lower risk of tumor progression and cancer mortality. Adding ARID1A expression to pathologic features offers a better model for predicting outcome than pathologic features alone. Low ARID1A expression was more frequently seen in earlier stage disease. There was a tendency for low ARID1A expression to predict better outcome. More importantly, the findings indicate that adding ARID1A expression to pathologic features increases the goodness of fit of the predictive model.

Mehrotra A, Saladi SV, Trivedi AR, et al.
Modulation of Brahma expression by the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal regulated kinase pathway is associated with changes in melanoma proliferation.
Arch Biochem Biophys. 2014; 563:125-35 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Brahma (BRM) and Brahma-related gene 1(BRG1) are catalytic subunits of SWItch/sucrose non-fermentable (SWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complexes. BRM is epigenetically silenced in a wide-range of tumors. Mutations in the v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) gene occur frequently in melanoma and lead to constitutive activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK1/2) pathway. We tested the hypothesis that BRM expression is modulated by oncogenic BRAF and phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in melanocytes and melanoma cells. Expression of oncogenic BRAF in melanocytes and melanoma cells that are wild-type for BRAF decreased BRM expression and increased BRG1 expression. Inhibition of mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) or selective inhibition of BRAF in melanoma cells that harbor oncogenic BRAF increased BRM expression and decreased BRG1 expression. Increased BRM expression was associated with increased histone acetylation on the BRM promoter. Over-expression of BRM in melanoma cells that harbor oncogenic BRAF promoted changes in cell cycle progression and apoptosis consistent with a tumor suppressive role. Upon inhibition of BRAF(V600E) with PLX4032, BRM promoted survival. PLX4032 induced changes in BRM function were correlated with increased acetylation of the BRM protein. This study provides insights into the epigenetic consequences of inhibiting oncogenic BRAF in melanoma through modulation of SWI/SNF subunit expression and function.

Holik AZ, Young M, Krzystyniak J, et al.
Brg1 loss attenuates aberrant wnt-signalling and prevents wnt-dependent tumourigenesis in the murine small intestine.
PLoS Genet. 2014; 10(7):e1004453 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Tumourigenesis within the intestine is potently driven by deregulation of the Wnt pathway, a process epigenetically regulated by the chromatin remodelling factor Brg1. We aimed to investigate this interdependency in an in vivo setting and assess the viability of Brg1 as a potential therapeutic target. Using a range of transgenic approaches, we deleted Brg1 in the context of Wnt-activated murine small intestinal epithelium. Pan-epithelial loss of Brg1 using VillinCreERT2 and AhCreERT transgenes attenuated expression of Wnt target genes, including a subset of stem cell-specific genes and suppressed Wnt-driven tumourigenesis improving animal survival. A similar increase in survival was observed when Wnt activation and Brg1 loss were restricted to the Lgr5 expressing intestinal stem cell population. We propose a mechanism whereby Brg1 function is required for aberrant Wnt signalling and ultimately for the maintenance of the tumour initiating cell compartment, such that loss of Brg1 in an Apc-deficient context suppresses adenoma formation. Our results highlight potential therapeutic value of targeting Brg1 and serve as a proof of concept that targeting the cells of origin of cancer may be of therapeutic relevance.

Liu X, Tian X, Wang F, et al.
BRG1 promotes chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer cells through crosstalking with Akt signalling.
Eur J Cancer. 2014; 50(13):2251-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gemcitabine is a standard chemotherapeutic agent for locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer. However, the chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer is the major barrier to efficient chemotherapy. Here, we reported that BRG1, a chromatin modulator, was exclusively overexpressed in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tissues. BRG1 knockdown inhibited PANC-1 and MIA PaCa-2 cell growth in vitro and in vivo, reduced the phosphorylation/activation of Akt and p21(cip/waf), enhanced intrinsic and gemcitabine induced apoptosis and attenuated gemcitabine-induced downregulation of E-cadherin. Moreover, by establishing acquired chemoresistance of MIA PaCa-2 cells in vitro, we found that BRG1 knockdown effectively reversed the chemoresistance to gemcitabine. Surprisingly, inhibiting Akt phosphorylation resulted in BRG1 suppression in pancreatic cancer cells, indicating BRG1 as a new downstream target of Akt signalling. Taken together, our findings suggest that BRG1 promotes both intrinsic and acquired chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer cells, and BRG1 crosstalks with Akt signalling to form a positive feedback loop to promote pancreatic cancer development.

Yoshikawa Y, Sato A, Tsujimura T, et al.
Biallelic germline and somatic mutations in malignant mesothelioma: multiple mutations in transcription regulators including mSWI/SNF genes.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(3):560-71 [PubMed] Related Publications
We detected low levels of acetylation for histone H3 tail lysines in malignant mesothelioma (MM) cell lines resistant to histone deacetylase inhibitors. To identify the possible genetic causes related to the low histone acetylation levels, whole-exome sequencing was conducted with MM cell lines established from eight patients. A mono-allelic variant of BRD1 was common to two MM cell lines with very low acetylation levels. We identified 318 homozygous protein-damaging variants/mutations (18-78 variants/mutations per patient); annotation analysis showed enrichment of the molecules associated with mammalian SWI/SNF (mSWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complexes and co-activators that facilitate initiation of transcription. In seven of the patients, we detected a combination of variants in histone modifiers or transcription factors/co-factors, in addition to variants in mSWI/SNF. Direct sequencing showed that homozygous mutations in SMARCA4, PBRM1 and ARID2 were somatic. In one patient, homozygous germline variants were observed for SMARCC1 and SETD2 in chr3p22.1-3p14.2. These exhibited extended germline homozygosity and were in regions containing somatic mutations, leading to a loss of BAP1 and PBRM1 expression in MM cell line. Most protein-damaging variants were heterozygous in normal tissues. Heterozygous germline variants were often converted into hemizygous variants by mono-allelic deletion, and were rarely homozygous because of acquired uniparental disomy. Our findings imply that MM might develop through the somatic inactivation of mSWI/SNF complex subunits and/or histone modifiers, including BAP1, in subjects that have rare germline variants of these transcription regulators and/or transcription factors/co-factors, and in regions prone to mono-allelic deletion during oncogenesis.

Morales-Oyarvide V, Mino-Kenudson M
High-grade lung adenocarcinomas with micropapillary and/or solid patterns: a review.
Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2014; 20(4):317-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of review is to discuss the most recent research findings on lung adenocarcinomas with solid and micropapillary patterns.
RECENT FINDINGS: Multiple recent studies have confirmed that both patterns are associated with adverse clinicopathologic features such as lymphovascular and pleural invasion, as well as lymph node metastasis, and consequently with poor disease-free survival, overall survival, or both. Radiologic characteristics such as high F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake, a solid nodule, and size ≥2 cm have been found to be useful to detect solid and micropapillary patterns. A seminal study has shown that the presence of a micropapillary component (≥5%) is a risk factor for early locoregional recurrence in patients undergoing limited resection for small (<2 cm) adenocarcinomas, but not for patients undergoing lobectomy. Several studies have demonstrated that micropapillary-predominant tumors are associated with EGFR mutations, whereas solid-predominant tumors are negatively associated with mutations of this gene and positively associated with KRAS mutations, indicative of the lack of response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The possible role of molecular events such as loss of BRG1/BRM and activation of c-Met has been identified in solid pattern and micropapillary pattern, respectively.
SUMMARY: Micropapillary and solid patterns are markers for early recurrence and poor survival in lung adenocarcinomas. In order to overcome the unfavorable outcomes, the preoperative detection of these patterns, development of targeted therapy for KRAS mutants, and discovery of biomarkers that play a significant role in development or progression or both of these patterns are warranted to help in treating lung adenocarcinoma patients with micropapillary or solid patterns or both effectively.

Rao Q, Xia QY, Shen Q, et al.
Coexistent loss of INI1 and BRG1 expression in a rhabdoid renal cell carcinoma (RCC): implications for a possible role of SWI/SNF complex in the pathogenesis of RCC.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014; 7(4):1782-7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
In this study, we analyzed the immunohistochemical and molecular profiles of an unusual RCC showed coexistent absence of INI1 and BRG1 expression, rhabdoid morphology, and poor prognosis. Histologically, the tumor had rhabdoid features, which were demonstrated by large round to polygonal cells with eccentric nuclei, prominent nucleoli, and eosinophilic cytoplasm varying from abundant to scanty. Immunohistochemically, the tumor were positive for BRM, PBRM1, ARID1A, CD10, CKpan, Vimentin, carbonic anhydrase IX (CA-IX), and P504S (AMACR) but negative for INI1, BRG1, HMB45, melan A, CK7, CD117, Ksp-cadherin, TFEB, TFE3, and Cathepsin K. We detected all three exons status of the VHL gene of the tumor and observed 1 somatic mutations in 1st exon. Chromosome 3p deletion, coupled with polysomy of chromosome 3 was also found. Based on these findings, it is further indicated that in some cases, rhabdoid RCC may arise from clear cell RCC. SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex may be an attractive candidate for being the "second hit" in RCCs and may play an important role during tumor progression. The role of SWI/SNF complex in rhabdoid RCC should be further studied on a larger number of cases.

Foulkes WD, Clarke BA, Hasselblatt M, et al.
No small surprise - small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcaemic type, is a malignant rhabdoid tumour.
J Pathol. 2014; 233(3):209-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Whole-exome sequencing (WES) is revolutionizing medical diagnostics and taxonomy. In less than 5 years since its first use, WES has revealed unexpected molecular drivers of numerous cancers. Here, we describe our use of WES to uncover the true nature of an enigmatic pathological entity, small-cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcaemic type (SCCOHT), which has resisted definitive characterisation since it was first described in 1979. We conducted WES using three families with SCCOHT and identified deleterious mutations in the chromatin-remodelling gene SMARCA4 (encoding BRG1) in all cases. Follow-up of these findings, using both Sanger sequencing and WES of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumours, showed that virtually all SCCOHTs we studied lacked functional SMARCA4/BRG1. Notably, this gene, and the related SMARCB1 gene, is mutated in most, if not all, atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumours and malignant rhabdoid tumours. Other groups have similar findings. We review the relationship between these three neoplasms, discuss how they were distinguished from morphologically similar neoplasms, consider their similarities and show how WES has revealed that SCCOHTs are in fact rhabdoid tumours. We propose that SCCOHT be renamed 'malignant rhabdoid tumour of the ovary' (MRTO) to reflect these observations.

Zhang J, Jima D, Moffitt AB, et al.
The genomic landscape of mantle cell lymphoma is related to the epigenetically determined chromatin state of normal B cells.
Blood. 2014; 123(19):2988-96 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/05/2015 Related Publications
In this study, we define the genetic landscape of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) through exome sequencing of 56 cases of MCL. We identified recurrent mutations in ATM, CCND1, MLL2, and TP53. We further identified a number of novel genes recurrently mutated in patients with MCL including RB1, WHSC1, POT1, and SMARCA4. We noted that MCLs have a distinct mutational profile compared with lymphomas from other B-cell stages. The ENCODE project has defined the chromatin structure of many cell types. However, a similar characterization of primary human mature B cells has been lacking. We defined, for the first time, the chromatin structure of primary human naïve, germinal center, and memory B cells through chromatin immunoprecipitation and sequencing for H3K4me1, H3K4me3, H3Ac, H3K36me3, H3K27me3, and PolII. We found that somatic mutations that occur more frequently in either MCLs or Burkitt lymphomas were associated with open chromatin in their respective B cells of origin, naïve B cells, and germinal center B cells. Our work thus elucidates the landscape of gene-coding mutations in MCL and the critical interplay between epigenetic alterations associated with B-cell differentiation and the acquisition of somatic mutations in cancer.

Jelinic P, Mueller JJ, Olvera N, et al.
Recurrent SMARCA4 mutations in small cell carcinoma of the ovary.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(5):424-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT) is a rare, highly aggressive form of ovarian cancer primarily diagnosed in young women. We identified inactivating biallelic SMARCA4 mutations in 100% of the 12 SCCOHT tumors examined. Protein studies confirmed loss of SMARCA4 expression, suggesting a key role for the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex in SCCOHT.

Witkowski L, Carrot-Zhang J, Albrecht S, et al.
Germline and somatic SMARCA4 mutations characterize small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(5):438-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
Small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT) is the most common undifferentiated ovarian malignancy in women under 40 years of age. We sequenced the exomes of six individuals from three families with SCCOHT. After discovering segregating deleterious germline mutations in SMARCA4 in all three families, we tested DNA from a fourth affected family, which also carried a segregating SMARCA4 germline mutation. All the familial tumors sequenced harbored either a somatic mutation or loss of the wild-type allele. Immunohistochemical analysis of these cases and additional familial and non-familial cases showed loss of SMARCA4 (BRG1) protein in 38 of 40 tumors overall. Sequencing of cases with available DNA identified at least one germline or somatic deleterious SMARCA4 mutation in 30 of 32 cases. Additionally, the SCCOHT cell line BIN-67 had biallelic deleterious mutations in SMARCA4. Our findings identify alterations in SMARCA4 as the major cause of SCCOHT, which could lead to improvements in genetic counseling and new treatment approaches.

Ramos P, Karnezis AN, Craig DW, et al.
Small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type, displays frequent inactivating germline and somatic mutations in SMARCA4.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(5):427-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/05/2015 Related Publications
Small cell carcinoma of the ovary of hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT) is an extremely rare, aggressive cancer affecting children and young women. We identified germline and somatic inactivating mutations in the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling gene SMARCA4 in 75% (9/12) of SCCOHT cases in addition to SMARCA4 protein loss in 82% (14/17) of SCCOHT tumors but in only 0.4% (2/485) of other primary ovarian tumors. These data implicate SMARCA4 in SCCOHT oncogenesis.

Le Loarer F, Zhang L, Fletcher CD, et al.
Consistent SMARCB1 homozygous deletions in epithelioid sarcoma and in a subset of myoepithelial carcinomas can be reliably detected by FISH in archival material.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2014; 53(6):475-86 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/05/2015 Related Publications
Epithelioid sarcomas (ES) are mesenchymal neoplasms subclassified into distal and proximal subtypes based on their distinct clinical presentations and histologic features. Consistent loss of SMARCB1 nuclear expression has been considered as the hallmark abnormality for both subtypes, a feature shared with atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor of infancy (ATRT). While virtually all ATRTs harbor underlying SMARCB1 somatic or germline alterations, mechanisms of SMARCB1 inactivation in ES are less well defined. To further define mechanisms of SMARCB1 inactivation a detailed molecular analysis was performed on 40 ES (25 proximal and 15 distal ES, with classic morphology and negative SMARCB1 expression) for their genomic status of SMARCB1 and related genes encoding the SWI/SNF subunits (PBRM1, BRG1, BRM, SMARCC1/2 and ARID1A) by FISH using custom BAC probes. An additional control group was included spanning a variety of 41 soft tissue neoplasms with either rhabdoid/epithelioid features or selected histotypes previously shown to lack SMARCB1 by IHC. Furthermore, 12 ES were studied by array CGH (aCGH) and an independent TMA containing 50 additional ES cases was screened for Aurora Kinase A (AURKA) and cyclin D1 immunoexpression. Homozygous SMARCB1 deletions were found by FISH in 36/40 ES (21/25 proximal-type). One of the distal-type ES displayed homozygous SMARCB1 deletion in the tumor cells, along with a heterozygous deletion within normal tissue, finding confirmed by array CGH. None of the proximal ES lacking homozygous SMARCB1 deletions displayed alterations in other SWI/SNF subunits gene members. Among controls, only the SMARCB1-immunonegative myoepithelial carcinomas displayed SMARCB1 homozygous deletions in 3/5 cases, while no gene specific abnormalities were seen among all other histologic subtypes of sarcomas tested regardless of the SMARCB1 protein status. There was no consistent pattern of AURKA and Cyclin D1 expression. The array CGH was successful in 9/12 ES, confirming the SMARCB1 and other SWI/SNF genes copy numbers detected by FISH. Our study confirms the shared pathogenesis of proximal and distal ES, showing consistent SMARCB1 homozygous deletions. Additionally we report the first ES case associated with a SMARCB1 constitutional deletion, establishing a previously undocumented link with ATRT. Alternative mechanisms of SMARCB1 inactivation in SMARCB1-disomic ES remain to be identified, but appear unrelated to large genomic abnormalities in other SWI/SNF subunits.

Van der Meulen J, Speleman F, Van Vlierberghe P
The H3K27me3 demethylase UTX in normal development and disease.
Epigenetics. 2014; 9(5):658-68 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
In 2007, the Ubiquitously Transcribed Tetratricopeptide Repeat on chromosome X (UTX) was identified as a histone demethylase that specifically targets di- and tri-methyl groups on lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me2/3). Since then, UTX has been proven essential during normal development, as it is critically required for correct reprogramming, embryonic development and tissue-specific differentiation. UTX is a member of the MLL2 H3K4 methyltransferase complex and its catalytic activity has been linked to regulation of HOX and RB transcriptional networks. In addition, an H3K27me2/3 demethylase independent function for UTX was uncovered in promoting general chromatin remodeling in concert with the BRG1-containing SWI/SNF remodeling complex. Constitutional inactivation of UTX causes a specific hereditary disorder called the Kabuki syndrome, whereas somatic loss of UTX has been reported in a variety of human cancers. Here, we compile the breakthrough discoveries made from the first disclosure of UTX as a histone demethylase till the identification of disease-related UTX mutations and specific UTX inhibitors.

Hoffman GR, Rahal R, Buxton F, et al.
Functional epigenetics approach identifies BRM/SMARCA2 as a critical synthetic lethal target in BRG1-deficient cancers.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(8):3128-33 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Defects in epigenetic regulation play a fundamental role in the development of cancer, and epigenetic regulators have recently emerged as promising therapeutic candidates. We therefore set out to systematically interrogate epigenetic cancer dependencies by screening an epigenome-focused deep-coverage design shRNA (DECODER) library across 58 cancer cell lines. This screen identified BRM/SMARCA2, a DNA-dependent ATPase of the mammalian SWI/SNF (mSWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complex, as being essential for the growth of tumor cells that harbor loss of function mutations in BRG1/SMARCA4. Depletion of BRM in BRG1-deficient cancer cells leads to a cell cycle arrest, induction of senescence, and increased levels of global H3K9me3. We further demonstrate the selective dependency of BRG1-mutant tumors on BRM in vivo. Genetic alterations of the mSWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes are the most frequent among chromatin regulators in cancers, with BRG1/SMARCA4 mutations occurring in ∼10-15% of lung adenocarcinomas. Our findings position BRM as an attractive therapeutic target for BRG1 mutated cancers. Because BRG1 and BRM function as mutually exclusive catalytic subunits of the mSWI/SNF complex, we propose that such synthetic lethality may be explained by paralog insufficiency, in which loss of one family member unveils critical dependence on paralogous subunits. This concept of "cancer-selective paralog dependency" may provide a more general strategy for targeting other tumor suppressor lesions/complexes with paralogous subunits.

Song S, Walter V, Karaca M, et al.
Gene silencing associated with SWI/SNF complex loss during NSCLC development.
Mol Cancer Res. 2014; 12(4):560-70 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2015 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: The SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex regulates gene expression and alters chromatin structures in an ATP-dependent manner. Recent sequencing efforts have shown mutations in BRG1 (SMARCA4), one of two mutually exclusive ATPase subunits in the complex, in a significant number of human lung tumor cell lines and primary non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) clinical specimens. To determine how BRG1 loss fuels tumor progression in NSCLC, molecular profiling was performed after restoration of BRG1 expression or treatment with a histone deacetylase inhibitor or a DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor in a BRG1-deficient NSCLC cells. Importantly, validation studies from multiple cell lines revealed that BRG1 reexpression led to substantial changes in the expression of CDH1, CDH3, EHF, and RRAD that commonly undergo silencing by other epigenetic mechanisms during NSCLC development. Furthermore, treatment with DNMT inhibitors did not restore expression of these transcripts, indicating that this common mechanism of gene silencing did not account for their loss of expression. Collectively, BRG1 loss is an important mechanism for the epigenetic silencing of target genes during NSCLC development.
IMPLICATIONS: Inactivation of the SWI/SNF complex provides a novel mechanism to induce gene silencing during NSCLC development.

Wilson BG, Helming KC, Wang X, et al.
Residual complexes containing SMARCA2 (BRM) underlie the oncogenic drive of SMARCA4 (BRG1) mutation.
Mol Cell Biol. 2014; 34(6):1136-44 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2015 Related Publications
Collectively, genes encoding subunits of the SWI/SNF (BAF) chromatin remodeling complex are mutated in 20% of all human cancers, with the SMARCA4 (BRG1) subunit being one of the most frequently mutated. The SWI/SNF complex modulates chromatin remodeling through the activity of two mutually exclusive catalytic subunits, SMARCA4 and SMARCA2 (BRM). Here, we show that a SMARCA2-containing residual SWI/SNF complex underlies the oncogenic activity of SMARCA4 mutant cancers. We demonstrate that a residual SWI/SNF complex exists in SMARCA4 mutant cell lines and plays essential roles in cellular proliferation. Further, using data from loss-of-function screening of 165 cancer cell lines, we identify SMARCA2 as an essential gene in SMARCA4 mutant cancer cell lines. Mechanistically, we reveal that Smarca4 inactivation leads to greater incorporation of the nonessential SMARCA2 subunit into the SWI/SNF complex. Collectively, these results reveal a role for SMARCA2 in oncogenesis caused by SMARCA4 loss and identify the ATPase and bromodomain-containing SMARCA2 as a potential therapeutic target in these cancers.

Cui Y, Xie S, Luan J, et al.
Quantitative proteomics and protein network analysis of A549 lung cancer cells affected by miR-206.
Biosci Trends. 2013; 7(6):259-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
MiR-206 acts as a potential tumor suppressor during carcinogenesis and a regulatory factor in osteoblasts differentiation, but its modulatory mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we used a quantitative proteomics method, difference gel electrophoresis (DIGE), to profile the protein variation in A549 lung cancer cells with and without miR- 206 transfection. We identified a total of 17 differently expressed proteins including 5 up-regulated and 12 down-regulated proteins affected by miR-206 in A549 cells. We further constructed a protein network linked 17 differently expressed proteins with 106 computationally predicted miR-206 targets, and identified 8 "hub" genes (CALR, CTSD, ENO1, HSPA5, CDC42, HSPD1, POLA1, and SMARCA4) within the network, which may represent important miR-206 functional gene targets. In conclusion, in this study, we identified several candidate functional target genes for miR-206, which is helpful to further explore its mechanisms during carcinogenesis and osteogenesis, and we also proposed a novel proteomic strategy to identify functionally important gene targets for microRNA.

Kupryjańczyk J, Dansonka-Mieszkowska A, Moes-Sosnowska J, et al.
Ovarian small cell carcinoma of hypercalcemic type - evidence of germline origin and SMARCA4 gene inactivation. a pilot study.
Pol J Pathol. 2013; 64(4):238-46 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ovarian tumors from two patients, compatible by histological and immunohistochemical criteria with small cell carcinoma of hypercalcemic type (SCCHT) (WT1+, EMA dispersed+, synaptophysin+ or dispersed+), were extensively sampled in order to find clues to their histogenesis. Subsequently, small foci of immature teratoma were found in both of them (in 1/122 and in 3/80 tumor sections). In one case, microfoci of yolk sac tumor were also present within the teratoma area as well as in the background of the small cell tumor population - in the primary tumor and in omental metastasis. We found a resemblance of the microscopic patterns of SCCHT and atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT) of the central nervous system, and this prompted us to evaluate INI-1 and SMARCA4 immunohistochemical expression, because their alternative loss is regarded as a molecular hallmark of AT/RT. INI-1 expression was retained, while that of SMARCA4 was lost. We therefore analyzed tumor DNA by PCR amplification and sequencing for mutations in the SMARCA4 gene (NG_011556.1), which were identified in both tumors (c.2184_2206del; nonsense c.3277C>T - both in one tumor; nonsense c.3760G>T in another tumor). These data suggest that SCCHT is most likely an embryonal tumor originating from immature teratoma and related to malignant rhabdoid tumor. Further analyses are necessary to determine whether the tumors diagnosed as SCCHT constitute a homogeneous group or represent more than one entity.

Romero OA, Torres-Diz M, Pros E, et al.
MAX inactivation in small cell lung cancer disrupts MYC-SWI/SNF programs and is synthetic lethal with BRG1.
Cancer Discov. 2014; 4(3):292-303 [PubMed] Related Publications
Our knowledge of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) genetics is still very limited, amplification of L-MYC, N-MYC, and C-MYC being some of the well-established gene alterations. Here, we report our discovery of tumor-specific inactivation of the MYC-associated factor X gene, MAX, in SCLC. MAX inactivation is mutually exclusive with alterations of MYC and BRG1, the latter coding for an ATPase of the switch/sucrose nonfermentable (SWI/SNF) complex. We demonstrate that BRG1 regulates the expression of MAX through direct recruitment to the MAX promoter, and that depletion of BRG1 strongly hinders cell growth, specifically in MAX-deficient cells, heralding a synthetic lethal interaction. Furthermore, MAX requires BRG1 to activate neuroendocrine transcriptional programs and to upregulate MYC targets, such as glycolysis-related genes. Finally, inactivation of the MAX dimerization protein, MGA, was also observed in both non-small cell lung cancer and SCLC. Our results provide evidence that an aberrant SWI/SNF-MYC network is essential for lung cancer development.

Huang HN, Lin MC, Huang WC, et al.
Loss of ARID1A expression and its relationship with PI3K-Akt pathway alterations and ZNF217 amplification in ovarian clear cell carcinoma.
Mod Pathol. 2014; 27(7):983-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
AT-rich interactive domain 1A (ARID1A) is a subunit of switch/sucrose non-fermentable (SWI/SNF) complex. Recently, alterations of ARID1A gene, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-protein kinase B (PI3K-Akt) pathway and zinc-finger protein 217 (ZNF217) gene have been identified as frequent molecular genetic changes in ovarian clear cell carcinoma. The relationships between these events have not been studied and integrated in the same cohort. This study was aimed at determining the correlation between these molecular events and other clinicopathological factors, including the prognostic impacts of these clinicopathological factors. A total of 68 ovarian clear cell carcinoma cases were collected and subjected to immunohistochemistry testing for ARID1A, SMARCA2, SMARCA4, SMARCB1 and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), mutation analysis for phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit alpha (PIK3CA) gene and fluorescence in situ hybridization for ZNF217 amplification. The correlations between ARID1A expression, PI3K-Akt pathway, ZNF217 amplification and other clinicopathological factors were analyzed. Loss of ARID1A expression was present in 35 cases (52%) and loss of SMARCA2 expression occurred in 1 case. SMARCA4 and SMARCB1 expressions were preserved in all cases. PIK3CA mutations were present in 23 cases (34%) and loss of PTEN expression occurred in 8 cases (12%). Alterations in the PI3K-Akt pathway (PIK3CA mutations or loss of PTEN expression) were found in 42 cases (62%). ZNF217 amplification was detected in 21 cases (31%). Loss of ARID1A expression was significantly related to younger patient age (P=0.048), PI3K-Akt pathway activation (P=0.046) and ZNF217 amplification (P=0.028). All of the clinicopathological factors were not prognostic factors for ovarian clear cell carcinoma after multivariate analysis, except International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics staging (P=0.001). Our results showed that loss of ARID1A expression usually coexisted with PI3K-Akt pathway activation and/or ZNF217 amplification. Synergic effects of loss of ARID1A and PI3K-Akt pathway activation as well as ZNF217 amplification may be related to the development of ovarian clear cell carcinoma.

Shi J, Whyte WA, Zepeda-Mendoza CJ, et al.
Role of SWI/SNF in acute leukemia maintenance and enhancer-mediated Myc regulation.
Genes Dev. 2013; 27(24):2648-62 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2015 Related Publications
Cancer cells frequently depend on chromatin regulatory activities to maintain a malignant phenotype. Here, we show that leukemia cells require the mammalian SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex for their survival and aberrant self-renewal potential. While Brg1, an ATPase subunit of SWI/SNF, is known to suppress tumor formation in several cell types, we found that leukemia cells instead rely on Brg1 to support their oncogenic transcriptional program, which includes Myc as one of its key targets. To account for this context-specific function, we identify a cluster of lineage-specific enhancers located 1.7 Mb downstream from Myc that are occupied by SWI/SNF as well as the BET protein Brd4. Brg1 is required at these distal elements to maintain transcription factor occupancy and for long-range chromatin looping interactions with the Myc promoter. Notably, these distal Myc enhancers coincide with a region that is focally amplified in ∼3% of acute myeloid leukemias. Together, these findings define a leukemia maintenance function for SWI/SNF that is linked to enhancer-mediated gene regulation, providing general insights into how cancer cells exploit transcriptional coactivators to maintain oncogenic gene expression programs.

Listerman I, Gazzaniga FS, Blackburn EH
An investigation of the effects of the core protein telomerase reverse transcriptase on Wnt signaling in breast cancer cells.
Mol Cell Biol. 2014; 34(2):280-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2015 Related Publications
Telomerase canonically maintains telomeres, but recent reports have suggested that the core protein mammalian telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) component, together with the chromatin remodeling factor BRG1 and β-catenin, may also bind to and promote expression of Wnt target genes. However, this proposed noncanonical role of TERT in Wnt signaling has been controversial. Here, we investigated the effects of human TERT (hTERT) on Wnt signaling in human breast cancer lines and HeLa cells. We failed to find evidence for physical association of hTERT with BRG1 or β-catenin; instead, we present evidence that anti-FLAG antibody cross-reactivity properties may explain the previously reported interaction of hTERT with β-catenin. Furthermore, altering hTERT levels in four different breast cancer cell lines caused minimal and discordant effects on Wnt target and Wnt pathway gene expression. Although hTERT's role in Wnt signaling was addressed only indirectly, no significant representation of Wnt target genes was detected in chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) and chromatin isolation by RNA purification and sequencing (ChIRP-seq) loci cooccupied in HeLa S3 cells by both BRG1 and hTR. In summary, our evidence fails to support the idea of a biologically consistent hTERT interaction with the Wnt pathway in human breast cancer cells, and any detectable influence of hTERT depended on cell type and experimental system.

Giessrigl B, Schmidt WM, Kalipciyan M, et al.
Fulvestrant induces resistance by modulating GPER and CDK6 expression: implication of methyltransferases, deacetylases and the hSWI/SNF chromatin remodelling complex.
Br J Cancer. 2013; 109(10):2751-62 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women living in the western hemisphere. Despite major advances in first-line endocrine therapy of advanced oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, the frequent recurrence of resistant cancer cells represents a serious obstacle to successful treatment. Understanding the mechanisms leading to acquired resistance, therefore, could pave the way to the development of second-line therapeutics. To this end, we generated an ER-positive breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) with resistance to the therapeutic anti-oestrogen fulvestrant (FUL) and studied the molecular changes involved in resistance.
METHODS: Naive MCF-7 cells were treated with increasing FUL concentrations and the gene expression profile of the resulting FUL-resistant strain (FR.MCF-7) was compared with that of naive cells using GeneChip arrays. After validation by real-time PCR and/or western blotting, selected resistance-associated genes were functionally studied by siRNA-mediated silencing or pharmacological inhibition. Furthermore, general mechanisms causing aberrant gene expression were investigated.
RESULTS: Fulvestrant resistance was associated with repression of GPER and the overexpression of CDK6, whereas ERBB2, ABCG2, ER and ER-related genes (GREB1, RERG) or genes expressed in resistant breast cancer (BCAR1, BCAR3) did not contribute to resistance. Aberrant GPER and CDK6 expression was most likely caused by modification of DNA methylation and histone acetylation, respectively. Therefore, part of the resistance mechanism was loss of RB1 control. The hSWI/SNF (human SWItch/Sucrose NonFermentable) chromatin remodelling complex, which is tightly linked to nucleosome acetylation and repositioning, was also affected, because as a stress response to FUL treatment-naive cells altered the expression of five subunits within a few hours (BRG1, BAF250A, BAF170, BAF155, BAF47). The aberrant constitutive expression of BAF250A, BAF170 and BAF155 and a deviant stress response of BRG1, BAF170 and BAF47 in FR.MCF-7 cells to FUL treatment accompanied acquired FUL resistance. The regular and aberrant expression profiles of BAF155 correlated directly with that of CDK6 in naive and in FR.MCF-7 cells corroborating the finding that CDK6 overexpression was due to nucleosome alterations.
CONCLUSION: The study revealed that FUL resistance is associated with the dysregulation of GPER and CDK6. A mechanism leading to aberrant gene expression was most likely unscheduled chromatin remodelling by hSWI/SNF. Hence, three targets should be conceptually addressed in a second-line adjuvant therapy: the catalytic centre of SWI/SNF (BRG1) to delay the development of FUL resistance, GPER to increase sensitivity to FUL and the reconstitution of the RB1 pathway to overcome resistance.

Lu P, Roberts CW
The SWI/SNF tumor suppressor complex: Regulation of promoter nucleosomes and beyond.
Nucleus. 2013 Sep-Oct; 4(5):374-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2015 Related Publications
Nucleosomes, octamers of histones wrapped in 147 bp of DNA, are the basic unit of chromatin. In eukaryotic cells, the placement of nucleosomes along the genome is highly organized, and modulation of this ordered arrangement contributes to regulation of gene expression. The SWI/SNF complex utilizes the energy of ATP hydrolysis to mobilize nucleosomes and remodel chromatin structure. Recently, the complex has also been implicated in oncogenesis as genes encoding multiple SWI/SNF subunits have been found mutated at high frequency across a wide spectrum of cancers. Given that epigenetic aberrations are now characterized as a hallmark of human cancer, hypotheses have been put forth that the SWI/SNF complex inhibits tumor formation by regulating key chromatin functions. To understand how the SWI/SNF complex contributes to nucleosome organization in vivo we performed a genome-wide study in mammalian cells. We found that inactivation of SWI/SNF subunits leads to disruptions of specific nucleosome patterning and a loss of nucleosome occupancy at a large number of promoters. These findings define a direct relationship between the SWI/SNF complex, chromatin structure, and transcriptional regulation. In this extra view, we discuss our findings, their relevance to gene regulation, and possible links to the tumor suppression activities of the SWI/SNF complex.

Wu XQ, Huang C, He X, et al.
Feedback regulation of telomerase reverse transcriptase: new insight into the evolving field of telomerase in cancer.
Cell Signal. 2013; 25(12):2462-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is the catalytic component of telomerase, especially the rate-limiting determinant of telomerase activity. So far, TERT has been reported to be over-expressed in more than 90% of cancers, thereby playing a critical role in sustained proliferation and survival potentials of various cancer cells. Over the past decade, a comprehensive network of transcription factors has been shown to be involved in the regulation of TERT. Furthermore, accumulating evidence has suggested that TERT could modulate the expression of numerous genes involved in diverse group of cellular processes, including cell cycle regulation and cellular signaling. Therefore, it indicates that TERT is both an effector and a regulator in carcinoma. However, the mechanisms of the interaction between TERT and its target genes are still not fully understood. Thus, it is necessary to consolidate and summarize recent developments of the cross-talk between TERT and related genes in cancer cells or other cells with cancer cell characteristics, and elucidate these relevant mechanisms. In this review, we focus on various signaling pathways and genes that participate in the feedback regulation of TERT and the underlying feedback loop mechanism of TERT, further providing new insights into non-telomeric functions of telomerase and potentially to be used as a novel therapeutic target for cancer.

Oike T, Ogiwara H, Nakano T, et al.
Inactivating mutations in SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling genes in human cancer.
Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2013; 43(9):849-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chromosomal deoxyribonucleic acid and histone proteins form a highly condensed structure known as chromatin. Chromatin remodeling proteins regulate deoxyribonucleic acid transcription, synthesis and repair by changing nucleosomal composition in an adenosine triphosphate-dependent manner and mediate access of deoxyribonucleic acid-binding proteins to deoxyribonucleic acid double strands. Recently, large-scale genome sequencing studies identified somatic mutations in genes encoding chromatin remodeling proteins in a variety of human solid cancers. Notably, inactivating mutations in genes encoding the catalytic and regulatory subunits of the switch/sucrose non-fermenting chromatin remodeling complex have been detected in several solid cancers: sucrose non-fermenting/switch/sucrose non-fermenting-related, matrix-associated, actin-dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily b, member 1/Brahma-related gene 1-associated factor 47/integrase interactor 1 mutations in rhabdoid tumors; AT-rich interactive domain-containing protein 1 A/Brahma-related gene 1-associated factor 250a mutations in ovarian clear cell carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and gastric adenocarcinoma; polybromo 1/Brahma-related gene 1-associated factor 180 mutations in renal clear cell carcinoma; Brahma-related gene 1/switch/sucrose non-fermenting-related, matrix-associated, actin-dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 4 mutations in non-small-cell lung carcinoma and AT-rich interactive domain-containing protein 2/Brahma-related gene 1-associated factor 200 mutations in hepatocellular carcinoma and malignant melanoma. This suggests that the switch/sucrose non-fermenting complex has a tumor-suppressive function, and that switch/sucrose non-fermenting gene deficiencies may affect the properties of cancer cells, which could be of value for the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Satomi K, Morishita Y, Murata Y, et al.
Epidermal growth factor receptor abnormalities in atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors and an unusual case with gene amplification.
Pathol Res Pract. 2013; 209(8):521-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT) is a rhabdoid tumor of the central nervous system comprising a mixture of small round cells and mesenchymal and/or epithelial elements, showing mutation of the SMARCB1 gene or SMARCA4 gene. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is one of the tyrosine kinase receptors whose overexpressed protein plays important roles in the malignant characteristics of various tumors. We analyzed 8 Japanese cases of AT/RT for EGFR protein overexpression and egfr gene amplification using immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization. The patients included 7 boys and 1 girl (age range 13 days to 2 years), and the tumors were localized in the frontal lobe (1 case), lateral ventricle (1 case), third ventricle (1 case), fourth ventricle (3 cases), and cerebellum (2 cases). We found that all (100%) of them partially expressed a high level of EGFR protein, and that one case showed amplification of egfr, the amplified area being localized and limited to a specific area within the tumor. We speculate that AT/RT is a tumor with heterogeneous egfr amplification, and that the frequency of amplification may depend on loss of function of the specific chromatin-remodeling member.

Oike T, Ogiwara H, Tominaga Y, et al.
A synthetic lethality-based strategy to treat cancers harboring a genetic deficiency in the chromatin remodeling factor BRG1.
Cancer Res. 2013; 73(17):5508-18 [PubMed] Related Publications
The occurrence of inactivating mutations in SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling genes in common cancers has attracted a great deal of interest. However, mechanistic strategies to target tumor cells carrying such mutations are yet to be developed. This study proposes a synthetic-lethality therapy for treating cancers deficient in the SWI/SNF catalytic (ATPase) subunit, BRG1/SMARCA4. The strategy relies upon inhibition of BRM/SMARCA2, another catalytic SWI/SNF subunit with a BRG1-related activity. Immunohistochemical analysis of a cohort of non-small-cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC) indicated that 15.5% (16 of 103) of the cohort, corresponding to preferentially undifferentiated tumors, was deficient in BRG1 expression. All BRG1-deficient cases were negative for alterations in known therapeutic target genes, for example, EGFR and DDR2 gene mutations, ALK gene fusions, or FGFR1 gene amplifications. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing of BRM suppressed the growth of BRG1-deficient cancer cells relative to BRG1-proficient cancer cells, inducing senescence via activation of p21/CDKN1A. This growth suppression was reversed by transduction of wild-type but not ATPase-deficient BRG1. In support of these in vitro results, a conditional RNAi study conducted in vivo revealed that BRM depletion suppressed the growth of BRG1-deficient tumor xenografts. Our results offer a rationale to develop BRM-ATPase inhibitors as a strategy to treat BRG1/SMARCA4-deficient cancers, including NSCLCs that lack mutations in presently known therapeutic target genes.

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