Transcriptomic alterations in lung adenocarcinoma unveil new mechanisms targeted by the Tbx2 subfamily of tumor suppressor genes

Athar Khalil, Batoul Dekmak, Fouad Boulos, Jake Kantrowitz, Avrum Spira, Junya Fujimoto, Humam Kadara, Nehme El-Hachem, Georges Nemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


T-box (TBX) transcription factors are evolutionary conserved genes and master transcriptional regulators. In mammals, TBX2 subfamily (TBX2, TBX3, TBX4, and TBX5) genes are expressed in the developing lung bud and tracheae. Our group previously showed that the expression of TBX2 subfamily was significantly high in human normal lungs, but markedly suppressed in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). To further elucidate their role in LUAD pathogenesis, we first confirmed abundant expression of protein products of the four members by immunostaining in adult human normal lung tissues. We also found overall suppressed expression of these genes and their corresponding proteins in a panel of human LUAD cell lines. Transient over-expression of each of the genes in human (NCI-H1299), and mouse (MDA-F471) derived lung cancer cells was found to significantly inhibit growth and proliferation as well as induce apoptosis. Genome-wide transcriptomic analyses on NCI-H1299 cells, overexpressing TBX2 gene subfamily, unraveled novel regulatory pathways. These included, among others, inhibition of cell cycle progression but more importantly activation of the histone demethylase pathway. When using a pattern-matching algorithm, we showed that TBX's overexpression mimic molecular signatures from azacitidine treated NCI-H1299 cells which in turn are inversely correlated to expression profiles of both human and murine lung tumors relative to matched normal lung. In conclusion, we showed that the TBX2 subfamily genes play a critical tumor suppressor role in lung cancer pathogenesis through regulating its methylating pattern, making them putative candidates for epigenetic therapy in LUAD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number482
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - 2018


  • Demethylation
  • Lung adenocarcinoma
  • T-Box
  • Transcriptomics
  • Tumor suppressor gene


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