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Breast tumor specific mutation in GATA3 affects physiological mechanisms regulating transcription factor turnover

Aleksandra B Adomas1, Sara A Grimm2, Christine Malone1, Motoki Takaku1, Jennifer K Sims1 and Paul A Wade1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 111 T.W. Alexander Dr, 27709 Research Triangle Park, NC, USA

2 Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Research Triangle Park, NC, USA

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:278  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-278

Published: 22 April 2014



The transcription factor GATA3 is a favorable prognostic indicator in estrogen receptor-α (ERα)-positive breast tumors in which it participates with ERα and FOXA1 in a complex transcriptional regulatory program driving tumor growth. GATA3 mutations are frequent in breast cancer and have been classified as driver mutations. To elucidate the contribution(s) of GATA3 alterations to cancer, we studied two breast cancer cell lines, MCF7, which carries a heterozygous frameshift mutation in the second zinc finger of GATA3, and T47D, wild-type at this locus.


Immunofluorescence staining and subcellular fractionation were employed to verify cellular localization of GATA3 in T47D and MCF7 cells. To test protein stability, cells were treated with translation inhibitor, cycloheximide or proteasome inhibitor, MG132, and GATA3 abundance was measured over time using immunoblot. GATA3 turn-over in response to hormone was determined by treating the cells with estradiol or ERα agonist, ICI 182,780. DNA binding ability of recombinant GATA3 was evaluated using electrophoretic mobility shift assay and heparin chromatography. Genomic location of GATA3 in MCF7 and T47D cells was assessed by chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with next-generation sequencing (ChIP-seq).


GATA3 localized in the nucleus in T47D and MCF7 cells, regardless of the mutation status. The truncated protein in MCF7 had impaired interaction with chromatin and was easily released from the nucleus. Recombinant mutant GATA3 was able to bind DNA to a lesser degree than the wild-type protein. Heterozygosity for the truncating mutation conferred protection from regulated turnover of GATA3, ERα and FOXA1 following estrogen stimulation in MCF7 cells. Thus, mutant GATA3 uncoupled protein-level regulation of master regulatory transcription factors from hormone action. Consistent with increased protein stability, ChIP-seq profiling identified greater genome-wide accumulation of GATA3 in MCF7 cells bearing the mutation, albeit with a similar distribution across the genome, comparing to T47D cells.


We propose that this specific, cancer-derived mutation in GATA3 deregulates physiologic protein turnover, stabilizes GATA3 binding across the genome and modulates the response of breast cancer cells to estrogen signaling.

Breast cancer; ChIP-seq; GATA3; Mutation; Transcription factor