B Rudraraju, M Droog, TMA Abdel-Fatah, W Zwart, A Giannoudis, MI Malki, D Moore, H Patel, J Shaw, IO Ellis, S Chan, GN Brooke, E Nevedomskaya, C Lo Nigro, J Carroll, RC Coombes, C Bevan, S Ali, C Palmieri
Breast Cancer Res Treat
Activating transcription factor-2 (ATF-2) has been implicated as a tumour suppressor in breast cancer (BC). c-JUN N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 MAPK phosphorylate ATF-2 within the activation domain (AD), which is required for its transcriptional activity. To date, the role of ATF-2 in determining response to endocrine therapy has not been explored. Effects of ATF-2 loss in the oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive luminal BC cell line MCF7 were explored, as well as its role in response to tamoxifen treatment. Genome-wide chromatin binding patterns of ATF-2 when phosphorylated within the AD in MCF-7 cells were determined using ChIP-seq. The expression of ATF-2 and phosphorylated ATF-2 (pATF-2-Thr71) was determined in a series of 1,650 BC patients and correlated with clinico-pathological features and clinical outcome. Loss of ATF-2 diminished the growth-inhibitory effects of tamoxifen, while tamoxifen treatment induced ATF-2 phosphorylation within the AD, to regulate the expression of a set of 227 genes for proximal phospho-ATF-2 binding, involved in cell development, assembly and survival. Low expression of both ATF-2 and pATF-2-Thr71 was significantly associated with aggressive pathological features. Furthermore, pATF-2 was associated with both p-p38 and pJNK1/2 (< 0.0001). While expression of ATF-2 is not associated with outcome, pATF-2 is associated with longer disease-free (p = 0.002) and BC-specific survival in patients exposed to tamoxifen (p = 0.01). Furthermore, multivariate analysis confirmed pATF-2-Thr71 as an independent prognostic factor. ATF-2 is important for modulating the effect of tamoxifen and phosphorylation of ATF-2 within the AD at Thr71 predicts for improved outcome for ER-positive BC receiving tamoxifen.