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Bailey-Whyte_2023_Chromatin.pdf (8.61 MB)

Chromatin accessibility landscape of human updates triple-negative breast cancer cell lines reveals variation by patient donor ancestry

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posted on 2024-06-11, 11:08 authored by Alexandra R. Harris, Gatikrushna Panigrahi, Huaitian Liu, Vishal N. Koparde, Maeve Bailey-WhyteMaeve Bailey-Whyte, Tiffany H. Dorsey, Clayton C. Yates, Stefan Ambs

African American (AA) women have an excessive risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). We employed Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing to characterize differences in chromatin accessibility between nine commonly used TNBC cell lines derived from patients of European and African ancestry. Principal component and chromosome mapping analyses of accessibility peaks with the most variance revealed separation of chromatin profiles by patient group. Motif enrichment and footprinting analyses of disparate open chromatin regions revealed differences in transcription factor activity, identifying 79 with ancestry-associated binding patterns (FDR < 0.01). AA TNBC cell lines exhibited increased accessibility for 62 transcription factors associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, cancer stemness/chemotherapeutic resistance, proliferation, and aberrant p53 regulation, as well as KAISO, which has been previously linked to aggressive tumor characteristics in AA patients with cancer. Differential Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin signal analysis identified 1,596 genes located within promoters of differentially open chromatin regions in AA-derived TNBC, identifying DNA methyltransferase 1 as the top upregulated gene associated with African ancestry. Pathway analyses with these genes revealed enrichment in several pathways, including hypoxia. Culturing cells under hypoxia showed ancestry-specific stress responses that led to the identification of a core set of AA-associated transcription factors, which included members of the Kruppel-like factor and Sp subfamilies, as well as KAISO, and identified ZDHHC, a gene previously implicated in immunity and STING activation, as the top upregulated AA-specific gene under hypoxia. Together, these data reveal a differential chromatin landscape in TNBC associated with donor ancestry. The open chromatin structure of AA TNBC may contribute to a more lethal disease. Significance: We identify an ancestry-associated open chromatin land-scape and related transcription factors that may contribute to aggressive TNBC in AA women. Furthermore, this study advocates for the inclusion of diversely sourced cell lines in experimental in vitro studies to advance health equity at all levels of scientific research



Cancer Research Communications 3 (10), 2014–2029


American Association for Cancer Research

Other Funding information

Intramural Research Program of the NIH, NCI, Center for Cancer Research (CCR), and a CCR FLEX Award, Health Disparities; A.R. Harris is supported by the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program. This work utilized the computational resources of the NIH HPC Biowulfcluster (

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