Aberrant epigenetic remodeling events contribute to progression and metastasis of breast cancer (Bca). The specific mechanims that epigenetic factors rely on to mediate tumor aggressiveness remain unclear. We aimed to elucidate the roles of epigenetic protein PHF6 in breast tumorigenesis.
Published datasets and tissue samples with PHF6 staining were used to investigate the clinical relevance of PHF6 in Bca. CCK-8, clony formation assays were used to assess cell growth capacity. Cell migration and invasion abilities were measured by Transwell assay. The gene mRNA and protein levels were measured by quantitative real-time PCR and western blot. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-qPCR assays were used to investigate transcriptional relationships among genes. The Co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) assay was used to validate interactions between proteins. The CRISPR/Cas9 editing technology was used to construct double HIF knockout (HIF-DKO) cells. The subcutaneous xenograft model and orthotopic implantation tumor model were used to asess in vivo tumor growth.
In this study, we utilized MTT assay to screen that PHF6 is required for Bca growth. PHF6 promotes Bca proliferation and migration. By analyzing The Cancer Genome Atlas breast cancer (TCGA-Bca) cohort, we found that PHF6 was significantly higher in tumor versus normal tissues. Mechanistically, PHF6 physically interacts with HIF-1α and HIF-2α to potentiate HIF-driven transcriptional events to initiate breast tumorigenesis. HIF-DKO abolished PHF6-mediated breast tumor growth, and PHF6 deficiency in turn impaired HIF transcriptional effects. Besides, hypoxia could also rely on YAP activation, but not HIF, to sustain PHF6 expressions in Bca cells. In addition, PHF6 recuits BPTF to mediate epigenetic remodeling to augment HIF transcriptional activity. Targeting PHF6 or BPTF inhibitor (AU1) is effective in mice models. Lastly, PHF6 correlated with HIF target gene expression in human breast tumors, which is an independent prognostic regulator.
Collectively, this study identified PHF6 as a prognostic epigenetic regulator for Bca, functioning as a HIF coactivator. The fundamental mechanisms underlying YAP/PHF6/HIF axis in breast tumors endowed novel epigenegtic targets for Bca treatment.

© 2023. The Author(s).