HLJ1 (DNAJB4) Gene Is a Novel Biomarker Candidate in Breast Cancer

Tolga Acun, Natalie Doberstein, Jens K Habermann, Timo Gemoll, Christoph Thorns, Emin Oztas, Thomas Ried


Breast cancer is the most common cancer type and cause of cancer-related mortality among women worldwide. New biomarker discovery is crucial for diagnostic innovation and personalized medicine in breast cancer. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) have been increasingly reported as biomarkers and potential drug targets for cancers. HLJ1 (DNAJB4) belongs to the DNAJ (HSP40) family of HSPs and is regarded as a tumor suppressor gene in lung, colon, and gastric cancers. However, the role of the HLJ1 gene in breast cancer is currently unknown. We evaluated the role of the HLJ1 gene in breast cancer progression by analyzing its in vitro and in vivo expression and its genetic/epigenetic alterations. HLJ1 expression was found to be reduced or lost in breast cancer cell lines (SK-BR-3, MDA-MB-231, ZR-75-1) compared with the nontumorigenic mammary epithelial cell line (MCF 10A). In a clinical context for breast cancer progression, the HLJ1 expression was significantly less frequent in invasive breast carcinoma samples (n = 230) compared with normal breast tissue (n = 100), benign neoplasia (n = 53), and ductal carcinoma in situ (n = 21). In methylation analyses by the combined bisulfite restriction analysis assay, the CpG island located in the 5'-flanking region of the HLJ1 gene was found to be methylated in breast cancer cell lines. HLJ1 expression was restored in the ZR-75-1 cell line by DNA demethylating agent 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AzadC) and histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A. These new observations support the idea that HLJ1 is a tumor suppressor candidate and potential biomarker for breast cancer. Epigenomic mechanisms such as CpG methylation and histone deacetylation might contribute to downregulation of HLJ1 expression. We call for future functional, epigenomic, and clinical studies to ascertain the contribution of HLJ1 to breast cancer pathogenesis and, importantly, evaluate its potential for biomarker development in support of personalized medicine diagnostic innovation in clinical oncology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOmics : a journal of integrative biology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 05.2017


Dive into the research topics of 'HLJ1 (DNAJB4) Gene Is a Novel Biomarker Candidate in Breast Cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this