Epigenetic Heterogeneity and Plasticity in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease that can be caused by a variety of distinct genetic alterations in mammary epithelial cells, with five biologically and clinically distinct intrinsic breast cancer subtypes. Cellular plasticity may facilitate the conversion between subtypes within the same tumor and generate intra-tumor heterogeneity. Moreover, the distinct breast cancer subtypes specifically shape their microenvironment, determining cancer treatment and prognosis.

Chromatin alterations in cancer cells majorly contribute to their reprograming and plasticity and affect the composition of the tumor microenvironment. Immune and stromal cells are also characterized by distinct epigenetic signatures, due to the interaction with cancer cells, that contribute to their pro-tumor phenotype.

In this project, In these projects, we utilize a multidisciplinary approach, in collaboration with both the Oren lab and the Scherz-Shouval lab at the WIS, to investigate the putative role of histone modifications on cellular plasticity of the different breast cancer subtypes and their effects on the tumor microenvironment cell populations.