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Publication — IRIC

O-GlcNAcylation of FOXK1 orchestrates the E2F pathway and promotes oncogenesis.

Gene transcription is a highly regulated process, and deregulation of transcription factors activity underlies numerous pathologies including cancer. Albeit near four decades of studies have established that the E2F pathway is a core transcriptional network that govern cell division in multi-cellular organisms 1,2 , the molecular mechanisms that underlie the functions of E2F transcription factors remain incompletely understood. FOXK1 and FOXK2 transcription factors have recently emerged as important regulators of cell metabolism, autophagy and cell differentiation 3-6 . While both FOXK1 and FOXK2 interact with the histone H2AK119ub deubiquitinase BAP1 and possess many overlapping functions in normal biology, their specific functions as well as deregulation of their transcriptional activity in cancer is less clear and sometimes contradictory 7-13 . Here, we show that elevated expression of FOXK1, but not FOXK2, in primary normal cells promotes transcription of E2F target genes associated with increased proliferation and delayed entry into cellular senescence. FOXK1 expressing cells are highly prone to cellular transformation revealing important oncogenic properties of FOXK1 in tumor initiation. High expression of FOXK1 in patient tumors is also highly correlated with E2F gene expression. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that FOXK1, but not FOXK2, is specifically modified by O-GlcNAcylation. FOXK1 O-GlcNAcylation is modulated during the cell cycle with the highest levels occurring during the time of E2F pathway activation at G1/S. Moreover, loss of FOXK1 O-GlcNAcylation impairs FOXK1 ability to promote cell proliferation, cellular transformation and tumor growth. Mechanistically, expression of FOXK1 O-GlcNAcylation-defective mutants results in reduced recruitment of BAP1 to gene regulatory regions. This event is associated with a concomitant increase in the levels of histone H2AK119ub and a decrease in the levels of H3K4me1, resulting in a transcriptional repressive chromatin environment. Our results define an essential role of O-GlcNAcylation in modulating the functions of FOXK1 in controlling the cell cycle of normal and cancer cells through orchestration of the E2F pathway.

Publication date
March 1, 2024
Principal Investigators
Masclef L, Ahmed O, Iannantuono N, Gagnon J, Gushul-Leclaire M, Boulay K, Estavoyer B, Echbicheb M, Poy M, Ali Boubacar K, Boubekeur A, Menggad S, Schcolnik-Cabrera A, Balsalobre A, Bonneil E, Thibault P, Hulea L, Tanaka Y, Antoine-Mallette F, Drouin J, Affar EB
PubMed reference
bioRxiv 2024
PubMed ID
38463952