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Systems-epigenomics inference of transcription factor activity implicates aryl-hydrocarbon-receptor inactivation as a key event in lung cancer development

Chen, Y; Widschwendter, M; Teschendorff, AE; (2017) Systems-epigenomics inference of transcription factor activity implicates aryl-hydrocarbon-receptor inactivation as a key event in lung cancer development. Genome Biology , 18 , Article 236. 10.1186/s13059-017-1366-0. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Diverse molecular alterations associated with smoking in normal and precursor lung cancer cells have been reported, yet their role in lung cancer etiology remains unclear. A prominent example is hypomethylation of the aryl hydrocarbon-receptor repressor (AHRR) locus, which is observed in blood and squamous epithelial cells of smokers, but not in lung cancer. RESULTS: Using a novel systems-epigenomics algorithm, called SEPIRA, which leverages the power of a large RNA-sequencing expression compendium to infer regulatory activity from messenger RNA expression or DNA methylation (DNAm) profiles, we infer the landscape of binding activity of lung-specific transcription factors (TFs) in lung carcinogenesis. We show that lung-specific TFs become preferentially inactivated in lung cancer and precursor lung cancer lesions and further demonstrate that these results can be derived using only DNAm data. We identify subsets of TFs which become inactivated in precursor cells. Among these regulatory factors, we identify AHR, the aryl hydrocarbon-receptor which controls a healthy immune response in the lung epithelium and whose repressor, AHRR, has recently been implicated in smoking-mediated lung cancer. In addition, we identify FOXJ1, a TF which promotes growth of airway cilia and effective clearance of the lung airway epithelium from carcinogens. CONCLUSIONS: We identify TFs, such as AHR, which become inactivated in the earliest stages of lung cancer and which, unlike AHRR hypomethylation, are also inactivated in lung cancer itself. The novel systems-epigenomics algorithm SEPIRA will be useful to the wider epigenome-wide association study community as a means of inferring regulatory activity.

Type: Article
Title: Systems-epigenomics inference of transcription factor activity implicates aryl-hydrocarbon-receptor inactivation as a key event in lung cancer development
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13059-017-1366-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13059-017-1366-0
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2017. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Smoking, Cancer, EWAS, Transcription factor, Regulatory network, DNA methylation, Gene expression, Causality, AHRR
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Womens Cancer
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043144
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