Scientific Reports (Aug 2023)

Imaging-based study demonstrates how the DEK nanoscale distribution differentially correlates with epigenetic marks in a breast cancer model

  • Agnieszka Pierzynska-Mach,
  • Isotta Cainero,
  • Michele Oneto,
  • Elisa Ferrando-May,
  • Luca Lanzanò,
  • Alberto Diaspro

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 1
pp. 1 – 8


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Abstract Epigenetic dysregulation of chromatin is one of the hallmarks of cancer development and progression, and it is continuously investigated as a potential general bio-marker of this complex disease. One of the nuclear factors involved in gene regulation is the unique DEK protein—a histone chaperon modulating chromatin topology. DEK expression levels increase significantly from normal to cancer cells, hence raising the possibility of using DEK as a tumor marker. Although DEK is known to be implicated in epigenetic and transcriptional regulation, the details of these interactions and their relevance in cancer development remain largely elusive. In this work, we investigated the spatial correlation between the nuclear distribution of DEK and chromatin patterns—alongside breast cancer progression—leveraging image cross-correlation spectroscopy (ICCS) coupled with Proximity Ligation Assay (PLA) analysis. We performed our study on the model based on three well-established human breast cell lines to consider this tumor's heterogeneity (MCF10A, MCF7, and MDA-MB-231 cells). Our results show that overexpression of DEK correlates with the overall higher level of spatial proximity between DEK and histone marks corresponding to gene promoters regions (H3K9ac, H3K4me3), although it does not correlate with spatial proximity between DEK and gene enhancers (H3K27ac). Additionally, we observed that colocalizing fractions of DEK and histone marks are lower for the non-invasive cell subtype than for the highly invasive cell line (MDA-MB-231). Thus, this study suggests that the role of DEK on transcriptionally active chromatin regions varies depending on the subtype of the breast cancer cell line.