Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Jan 8;44(1):117-33.

Epigenetic factor EPC1 is a master regulator of DNA damage response by interacting with E2F1 to silence death and activate metastasis-related gene signatures.

Wang Y, Alla V, Goody D, Gupta SK, Spitschak A, Wolkenhauer O, Pützer BM, Engelmann D.

Abstract


Transcription factor E2F1 is a key regulator of cell proliferation and apoptosis. Recently, it has been shown that aberrant E2F1 expression often detectable in advanced cancers contributes essentially to cancer cell propagation and characterizes the aggressive potential of a tumor. Conceptually, this requires a subset of malignant cells capable of evading apoptotic death through anticancer drugs. The molecular mechanism by which the pro-apoptotic activity of E2F1 is antagonized is widely unclear. Here we report a novel function for EPC1 (enhancer of polycomb homolog 1) in DNA damage protection. Depletion of EPC1 potentiates E2F1-mediated apoptosis in response to genotoxic treatment and abolishes tumor cell motility. We found that E2F1 directly binds to the EPC1 promoter and EPC1 vice versa physically interacts with bifunctional E2F1 to modulate its transcriptional activity in a target gene-specific manner. Remarkably, nuclear-colocalized EPC1 activates E2F1 to upregulate the expression of anti-apoptotic survival genes such as BCL-2 or Survivin/BIRC5 and inhibits death-inducing targets. The uncovered cooperativity between EPC1 and E2F1 triggers a metastasis-related gene signature in advanced cancers that predicts poor patient survival. These findings unveil a novel oncogenic function of EPC1 for inducing the switch into tumor progression-relevant gene expression that may help to set novel therapies.