Lineage-specific epigenomic and genomic activation of oncogene HNF4A promotes gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas

Jian Pan, Tiago C. Silva, Nicole Gull, Qian Yang, Jasmine T. Plummer, Stephanie Chen, Kenji Daigo, Takao Hamakubo, Sigal Gery, Ling Wen Ding, Yan Yi Jiang, Shaoyan Hu, Li Yan Xu, En Min Li, Yanbing Ding, Samuel J. Klempner, Simon A. Gayther, Benjamin P. Berman, H. Phillip Koeffler, De Chen Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas (GIAC) of the tubular gastrointestinal (GI) tract including esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum comprise most GI cancers and share a spectrum of genomic features. However, the unified epigenomic changes specific to GIAC are poorly characterized. Using 907 GIAC samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas, we applied mathematical algorithms to large-scale DNA methylome and transcriptome profiles to reconstruct transcription factor (TF) networks and identify a list of functionally hyperactive master regulator (MR) TF shared across different GIAC. The top candidate HNF4A exhibited prominent genomic and epigenomic activation in a GIAC-specific manner. A complex interplay between the HNF4A promoter and three distal enhancer elements was coordinated by GIAC-specific MRTF including ELF3, GATA4, GATA6, and KLF5. HNF4A also self-regulated its own promoter and enhancers. Functionally, HNF4A promoted cancer proliferation and survival by transcriptional activation of many downstream targets, including HNF1A and factors of interleukin signaling, in a lineage-specific manner. Overall, our study provides new insights into the GIAC-specific gene regulatory networks and identifies potential therapeutic strategies against these common cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2722-2736
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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