Interaction of transcription factor AP-2 gamma with proto-oncogene PELP1 promotes tumorigenesis by enhancing RET signaling

Junhao Liu, Zexuan Liu, Mengxing Li, Weiwei Tang, Uday P. Pratap, Yiliao Luo, Kristin A. Altwegg, Xiaonan Li, Yi Zou, Hong Zhu, Gangadhara R. Sareddy, Suryavathi Viswanadhapalli, Ratna K. Vadlamudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A significant proportion of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer (BC) initially responds to endocrine therapy but eventually evolves into therapy-resistant BC. Transcription factor AP-2 gamma (TFAP2C) is a known regulator of ER activity, and high expression of TFAP2C is associated with a decreased response to endocrine therapies. PELP1 is a nuclear receptor coregulator, commonly overexpressed in BC, and its levels are correlated with poorer survival. In this study, we identified PELP1 as a novel interacting protein of TFAP2C. RNA-seq analysis of PELP1 knockdown BC cells followed by transcription factor motif prediction pointed to TFAP2C being enriched in PELP1-regulated genes. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) revealed that the TFAP2C-PELP1 axis induced a subset of common genes. Reporter gene assays confirmed PELP1 functions as a coactivator of TFAP2C. Mechanistic studies showed that PELP1-mediated changes in histone methylation contributed to increased expression of the TFAP2C target gene RET. Furthermore, the TFAP2C-PELP1 axis promoted the activation of the RET signaling pathway, which contributed to downstream activation of AKT and ERK pathways in ER+ BC cells. Concomitantly, knockdown of PELP1 attenuated these effects mediated by TFAP2C. Overexpression of TFAP2C contributed to increased cell proliferation and therapy resistance in ER+ BC models, while knockdown of PELP1 mitigated these effects. Utilizing ZR75-TFAP2C xenografts with or without PELP1 knockdown, we provided genetic evidence that endogenous PELP1 is essential for TFAP2C-driven BC progression in vivo. Collectively, our studies demonstrated that PELP1 plays a critical role in TFAP2C transcriptional and tumorigenic functions in BC and blocking the PELP1-TFAP2C axis could have utility for treating therapy resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1161
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • PELP1
  • TFAP2C
  • breast cancer
  • coactivator
  • therapy resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Interaction of transcription factor AP-2 gamma with proto-oncogene PELP1 promotes tumorigenesis by enhancing RET signaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this