MYC, a downstream target of BRD-NUT, is necessary and sufficient for the blockade of differentiation in NUT midline carcinoma
Carcinoma, Squamous Cell
Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
NUT midline carcinoma (NMC) is an aggressive type of squamous cell carcinoma that is defined by the presence of BRD-NUT fusion oncogenes, which encode chimeric proteins that block differentiation and maintain tumor growth. BRD-NUT oncoproteins contain two bromodomains whose binding to acetylated histones is required for the blockade of differentiation in NMC, but the mechanisms by which BRD-NUT act remain uncertain. Here, we provide evidence that MYC is a key downstream target of BRD4-NUT. Expression profiling of NMCs shows that the set of genes whose expression is maintained by BRD4-NUT is highly enriched for MYC upregulated genes, and MYC and BRD4-NUT protein expression is strongly correlated in primary NMCs. More directly, we find that BRD4-NUT associates with the MYC promoter and is required to maintain MYC expression in NMC cell lines. Moreover, both siRNA knockdown of MYC and a dominant-negative form of MYC, omomyc, induce differentiation of NMC cells. Conversely, differentiation of NMC cells induced by knockdown of BRD4-NUT is abrogated by enforced expression of MYC. Together, these findings suggest that MYC is a downstream target of BRD4-NUT that is required for maintenance of NMC cells in an undifferentiated, proliferative state. Our findings support a model in which dysregulation of MYC by BRD-NUT fusion proteins has a central role in the pathogenesis of NMC.