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West Jerusalem, Israel

Slyper M.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Shahar A.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Bar-Ziv A.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Granit R.Z.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | And 4 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2012

Regulatory factors controlling stem cell identity and self-renewal are often active in aggressive cancers and are thought to promote their growth and progression. TCF3 (also known as TCF7L1) is a member of the TCF/LEF transcription factor family that is central in regulating epidermal and embryonic stem cell identity. Wefound that TCF3 is highly expressed in poorly differentiated human breast cancers, preferentially of the basal-like subtype. This suggested that TCF3 is involved in the regulation of breast cancer cell differentiation state and tumorigenicity. Silencing of TCF3 dramatically decreased the ability of breast cancer cells to initiate tumor formation, and led to decreased tumor growth rates. In culture, TCF3 promotes the sphere formation capacity of breast cancer cells and their self-renewal. We found that in contrast to ES cells, where it represses Wnt-pathway target genes, TCF3 promotes the expression of a subset of Wnt-responsive genes in breast cancer cells while repressing another distinct target subset. In the normal mouse mammary gland, Tcf3 is highly expressed in terminal end buds, structures that lead duct development. Primary mammary cells are dependent on Tcf3 for mammosphere formation, and its overexpression in the developing gland disrupts ductal growth. Our results identify TCF3 as a central regulator of tumor growth and initiation, and a novel link between stem cells and cancer. Copyright © 2012 American Association for Cancer Research. Source

Granit R.Z.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Gabai Y.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Hadar T.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Hadar T.,Hadassah Medical Center | And 9 more authors.
Oncogene | Year: 2013

The mechanisms regulating breast cancer differentiation state are poorly understood. Of particular interest are molecular regulators controlling the highly aggressive and poorly differentiated traits of basal-like breast carcinomas. Here we show that the Polycomb factor EZH2 maintains the differentiation state of basal-like breast cancer cells, and promotes the expression of progenitor-associated and basal-lineage genes. Specifically, EZH2 regulates the composition of basal-like breast cancer cell populations by promoting a 'bi-lineage' differentiation state, in which cells co-express basal- and luminal-lineage markers. We show that human basal-like breast cancers contain a subpopulation of bi-lineage cells, and that EZH2-deficient cells give rise to tumors with a decreased proportion of such cells. Bi-lineage cells express genes that are active in normal luminal progenitors, and possess increased colony-formation capacity, consistent with a primitive differentiation state. We found that GATA3, a driver of luminal differentiation, performs a function opposite to EZH2, acting to suppress bi-lineage identity and luminal-progenitor gene expression. GATA3 levels increase upon EZH2 silencing, mediating a decrease in bi-lineage cell numbers. Our findings reveal a novel role for EZH2 in controlling basal-like breast cancer differentiation state and intra-tumoral cell composition. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved. Source

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