The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) network study of 12 cancer types (PanCancer 12) revealed frequent mutation of TP53, and amplification and expression of related TP63 isoform ΔNp63 in squamous cancers. Further, aberrant expression of inflammatory genes and TP53/p63/p73 targets were detected in the PanCancer 12 project, reminiscent of gene programs comodulated by cREL/ΔNp63/TAp73 transcription factors we uncovered in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). However, how inflammatory gene signatures and cREL/p63/p73 targets are comodulated genome wide is unclear. Here, we examined how the inflammatory factor tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) broadly modulates redistribution of cREL with ΔNp63α/TAp73 complexes and signatures genome wide in the HNSCC model UM-SCC46 using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq). TNF-α enhanced genome-wide co-occupancy of cREL with ΔNp63α on TP53/p63 sites, while unexpectedly promoting redistribution of TAp73 from TP53 to activator protein-1 (AP-1) sites. cREL, ΔNp63α and TAp73 binding and oligomerization on NF-κB-, TP53- or AP-1-specific sequences were independently validated by ChIP-qPCR (quantitative PCR), oligonucleotide-binding assays and analytical ultracentrifugation. Function of the binding activity was confirmed using TP53-, AP-1- and NF-κB-specific REs or p21, SERPINE1 and IL-6 promoter luciferase reporter activities. Concurrently, TNF-α regulated a broad gene network with cobinding activities for cREL, ΔNp63α and TAp73 observed upon array profiling and reverse transcription-PCR. Overlapping target gene signatures were observed in squamous cancer subsets and in inflamed skin of transgenic mice overexpressing ΔNp63α. Furthermore, multiple target genes identified in this study were linked to TP63 and TP73 activity and increased gene expression in large squamous cancer samples from PanCancer 12 TCGA by CircleMap. PARADIGM inferred pathway analysis revealed the network connection of TP63 and NF-κB complexes through an AP-1 hub, further supporting our findings. Thus, inflammatory cytokine TNF-α mediates genome-wide redistribution of the cREL/p63/p73, and AP-1 interactome, to diminish TAp73 tumor suppressor function and reciprocally activate NF-κB and AP-1 gene programs implicated in malignancy.
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