ZC3H18 specifically binds and activates the BRCA1 promoter to facilitate homologous recombination in ovarian cancer

Arun Kanakkanthara, Catherine J. Huntoon, Xiaonan Hou, Minzhi Zhang, Ethan P. Heinzen, Daniel R. O’Brien, Ann L. Oberg, S. John Weroha, Scott H. Kaufmann, Larry M. Karnitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Reduced BRCA1 expression causes homologous recombination (HR) repair defects in high-grade serous ovarian cancers (HGSOCs). Here, we demonstrate that BRCA1 is transcriptionally activated by a previously unknown function of ZC3H18. We show that ZC3H18 is a DNA-binding protein that interacts with an E2F site in the BRCA1 promoter where it facilitates recruitment of E2F4 to an adjacent E2F site to promote BRCA1 transcription. Consistent with ZC3H18 role in activating BRCA1 expression, ZC3H18 depletion induces BRCA1 promoter methylation, reduces BRCA1 expression, disrupts HR, and sensitizes cells to DNA crosslinkers and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors. Moreover, in patient-derived xenografts and primary HGSOC tumors, ZC3H18 and E2F4 mRNA levels are positively correlated with BRCA1 mRNA levels, further supporting ZC3H18 role in regulating BRCA1. Given that ZC3H18 lies within 16q24.2, a region with frequent copy number loss in HGSOC, these findings suggest that ZC3H18 copy number losses could contribute to HR defects in HGSOC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4632
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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