Subcellular localization of EZH2 phosphorylated at T367 stratifies metaplastic breast carcinoma subtypes

Academic Article


  • Background: Metaplastic carcinoma is an aggressive, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) with differentiation towards squamous, spindle, or mesenchymal cell types. The molecular underpinnings of the histological subtypes are unclear. Our lab discovered a cytoplasmic function of EZH2, a transcriptional repressor, whereby pEZH2 T367 binds to cytoplasmic proteins in TNBC cells and enhances invasion and metastasis. Here, we investigated the expression and subcellular localization of pEZH2 T367 protein in metaplastic carcinomas. Methods: Thirty-five metaplastic carcinomas (17 squamous, 10 mesenchymal, and 8 spindle) were evaluated and immunostained with anti-pEZH2 T367. We analyzed staining intensity (score 1–4), subcellular localization (nuclear/cytoplasmic), and localization within the tumor (center/invasive edge). Protein expression of pEZH2 T367-binding partners was measured from a quantitative multiplex proteomics analysis performed in our lab. Results: Cytoplasmic pEZH2 T367 was significantly upregulated in squamous (14 of 17, 82%) compared to mesenchymal (4 of 10, 40%) and spindle (2 of 6, 33%) subtypes (p = 0.011). Twenty-five of 34 (73%) tumors with available tumor–normal interface showed accentuated cytoplasmic pEZH2 T367 at the infiltrative edge. Cytoplasmic pEZH2 T367 was upregulated in 9 of 10 (90%) tumors with lymph node metastasis (p = 0.05). Bioinformatics analyses identified an EZH2 protein network in metaplastic carcinomas (p value: < 1.0e−16). Using quantitative proteomics, we found significantly increased expression of cytoplasmic EZH2-binding partners in squamous compared to spindle and mesenchymal subtypes. Conclusions: pEZH2 T367 expression and subcellular localization may be useful to distinguish metaplastic carcinoma subtypes. pEZH2 T367 may play a role in the histological diversity and behavior of these tumors.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 10151688
  • Author List

  • McMullen ER; Skala SL; Gonzalez ME; Djomehri S; Chandrashekar DS; Varambally S; Kleer CG
  • Start Page

  • 496
  • End Page

  • 505
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 2