J Cancer 2021; 12(5):1507-1519. doi:10.7150/jca.50293

Research Paper

BRD7 inhibits tumor progression by positively regulating the p53 pathway in hepatocellular carcinoma

Chang-Long Chen1,2*, Hua-Qian Mo1,2*, Yan-Hui Jiang1,2, Xiao-Hui Zhao1,2, Shuang Ma1,2, Kai-Yun You1,2, Yue Pan1,3✉, Yi-Min Liu1,2✉

1. Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Malignant Tumor Epigenetics and Gene Regulation, Medical Research Center, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, P. R. China; 510120
2. Department of Radiation Oncology, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, P. R. China; 510120
3. Center for Precision Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, 510080, P. R. China; 510120
*These authors contributed equally to this work

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Chen CL, Mo HQ, Jiang YH, Zhao XH, Ma S, You KY, Pan Y, Liu YM. BRD7 inhibits tumor progression by positively regulating the p53 pathway in hepatocellular carcinoma. J Cancer 2021; 12(5):1507-1519. doi:10.7150/jca.50293. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v12p1507.htm

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Background: Bromodomain-containing protein 7 (BRD7) is identified as a transcriptional regulator and plays an important role in the development and progression of various tumors. Our previous study demonstrated that BRD7 acts as a potential tumor suppressor in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the specific molecular mechanism underlying the BRD7-mediated inhibition of HCC progression remains poorly understood.

Methods: We performed ChIP-seq analysis to investigate the gene network mediated by BRD7. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to analyze potential associations between the p53 and BRD7 expression and the effect of their overexpression on disease pathogenesis and outcome. In addition, we performed biological function experiments to determine the effect of BRD7 and p53 on these functions that are central to tumorigenesis. Finally, we employed a BALB/c model for execution of xenograft transplants to examine the effect of either overexpressing or under-expressing BRD7 and p53 on tumor growth in mice injected with cells.

Results: Our results suggested that BRD7 regulates the p53 pathway. Specifically, BRD7 was demonstrated to upregulate the transcription level of p53 by directly binding to the upstream regulatory region of the p53 transcriptional initiation site, thereby enhancing its promoter activity. Moreover, immunohistochemical analysis showed that wild-type p53 (WTp53) expression is positively associated with BRD7 expression and survival of patients with HCC. Additionally,changes of p53 expression could affect the tumor suppressive role of BRD7 on HCC cell proliferation, migration/invasion, cell-cycle, and tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, changes of BRD7 expression in HCC cells significantly altered the expression of p53 signal-related molecules such as p21, Bax, Bcl2, and cyclin D1, indicating that BRD7 may positively regulate activation of the p53 pathway.

Conclusions: Collectively, our results indicated that BRD7 exerts anti-tumor effects in HCC through transcriptionally activating p53 pathway. These critical roles of BRD7may provide some promising diagnostic and therapeutic targets for HCC.

Keywords: BRD7, hepatocellular carcinoma, tumor suppressor, p53 pathway, transcriptional regulation