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Cancer Res. 2018 Dec 18. pii: canres.2297.2018. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2297. [Epub ahead of print]

Early loss of Histone H2B monoubiquitylation alters chromatin accessibility and activates key immune pathways that facilitate progression of ovarian cancer.

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Obstetrics & Gynecology, Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Department of Translational Molecular Medicine, John Wayne Cancer Institute.
Department of Molecular Oncology, John Wayne Cancer Institute.
Department of Pathology, Division of Women's and Perinatal Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Women's Cancer Program, Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Pathology, Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Public Health.
Molecular Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science.
Obstetrics & Gynecology, Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania


Recent insights supporting the fallopian tube epithelium (FTE) and serous tubal intraepithelial carcinomas (STIC) as the tissue of origin and the precursor lesion, respectively, for the majority of high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (HGSOC) provide the necessary context to study the mechanisms that drive the development and progression of HGSOC. Here we investigate the role of the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF20 and histone H2B monoubiquitylation (H2Bub1) in serous tumorigenesis and report that heterozygous loss of RNF20 defines the majority of HGSOC tumors. At the protein level, H2Bub1 was lost or downregulated in a large proportion of STIC and invasive HGSOC tumors, implicating RNF20/H2Bub1 loss as an early event in the development of serous ovarian carcinoma. Knockdown of RNF20, with concomitant loss of H2Bub1, was sufficient to enhance cell migration and clonogenic growth of FTE cells. To investigate the mechanisms underlying these effects, we performed ATAC-seq and RNA-seq in RNF20 knockdown FTE cell lines. Loss of RNF20 and H2Bub1 was associated with a more open chromatin conformation leading to upregulation of immune signaling pathways, including interleukin 6 (IL6). IL6 was one of the key cytokines significantly upregulated in RNF20- and H2Bub1-depleted FTE cells and imparted upon these cells an enhanced migratory phenotype. These studies provide mechanistic insight into the observed oncogenic phenotypes triggered by the early loss of H2Bub1.

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