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A. Karsan

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    MO15 - Novel Genes and Pathways (ID 89)

    • Event: WCLC 2013
    • Type: Mini Oral Abstract Session
    • Track: Biology
    • Presentations: 1
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      MO15.10 - ELF3 is a novel oncogene frequently activated by genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in lung adenocarcinoma (ID 1024)

      16:15 - 17:45  |  Author(s): A. Karsan

      • Abstract
      • Presentation
      • Slides

      Lung cancer remains the cause of the most cancer-related deaths each year, with a 5 year survival rate of less than 15%. The predominant type of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer, and the majority of these cases consist of the adenocarcinoma (AC) histology. Oncogenes such as EGFR and KRAS are well defined drivers of AC, but in approximately 50% of cases the driver alterations are unknown. Furthermore, not all defined drivers are drugable. Additional oncogenes are clearly involved in driving this subtype, and must be elucidated to better understand AC biology and improve treatment. ELF3 is an member of the E-Twenty Six (ETS) transcription factor family, which includes several well known oncogenes such as ETS1. Expression of ELF3 is uniquely epithelial-specific, with high expression in fetal but not adult lung tissue. ELF3 overexpression has been reported in a handful of clinical AC cases and cell lines, however a comprehensive analysis of the extent and impact of this overexpression is lacking. Therefore we conducted a multi-'omic, functional analysis of ELF3, and hypothesize ELF3 represents a novel oncogene in lung AC.

      ELF3 was interrogated in a multidimensional integrative manner by assessing copy number (SNP 6.0), methylation (Illumina HM27), and expression (Illumina) data from a panel of 83 AC tumors and matched adjacent non-malignant tissues. ELF3 expression was also assessed in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) public database. Stable ELF3 mRNA knock-down models were established in AC cell lines with high ELF3 expression, and these models were used to assess the role of ELF3 in cell viability and proliferation via MTT and BrdU incorporation assay, respectively. Knock-down models were also used to assess the impact of ELF3 overexpression on tumor growth in vitro and in vivo by soft agar colony formation assay and flank injections of NOD-SCID mice. Subcellular localization of ELF3 was determined by western blot and confirmed with immunofluorescence. In addition, an ELF3 overexpression model was established in immortalized Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (HBECs) to assess proliferation and soft agar colony formation in a non-malignant model system.

      ELF3 was found to be frequently overexpressed in our cohort (72%) and the TCGA cohort (80%). This upregulation correlated significantly with high frequencies of sequence gain (49%) and hypomethylation (71%), often seen within the same tumor. In fact, 82% of tumors with ELF3 overexpression had concurrent gain and/or hypomethylation of the ELF3 locus. Knock-down of ELF3 in cell models led to significantly reduced cell viability and proliferation. Western blot and IF revealed ELF3 to be predominantly located in the nucleus, indicating ELF3 likely behaves through its transcription factor activity. A similar hyperproliferative phenotype was seen in the HBEC ELF3 overexpression models.

      The high frequency of ELF3 overexpression (>70%) observed in lung AC is accompanied by frequent DNA-level selection events. The affect of ELF3 on cell proliferation suggests that ELF3 is a novel oncogene in lung AC. Further studies are warranted to determine the mechanism by which ELF3 drives hyperproliferation and potentially other oncogenic functions to define novel drugable targets for this disease.

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