UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


RUNX1-dependent mechanisms in biological control and dysregulation in cancer

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Department of Pediatrics; Imbalzano Lab; Nickerson Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Cancer Biology | Cell Biology | Cells | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Developmental Biology | Neoplasms


The RUNX1 transcription factor has recently been shown to be obligatory for normal development. RUNX1 controls the expression of genes essential for proper development in many cell lineages and tissues including blood, bone, cartilage, hair follicles, and mammary glands. Compromised RUNX1 regulation is associated with many cancers. In this review, we highlight evidence for RUNX1 control in both invertebrate and mammalian development and recent novel findings of perturbed RUNX1 control in breast cancer that has implications for other solid tumors. As RUNX1 is essential for definitive hematopoiesis, RUNX1 mutations in hematopoietic lineage cells have been implicated in the etiology of several leukemias. Studies of solid tumors have revealed a context-dependent function for RUNX1 either as an oncogene or a tumor suppressor. These RUNX1 functions have been reported for breast, prostate, lung, and skin cancers that are related to cancer subtypes and different stages of tumor development. Growing evidence suggests that RUNX1 suppresses aggressiveness in most breast cancer subtypes particularly in the early stage of tumorigenesis. Several studies have identified RUNX1 suppression of the breast cancer epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Most recently, RUNX1 repression of cancer stem cells and tumorsphere formation was reported for breast cancer. It is anticipated that these new discoveries of the context-dependent diversity of RUNX1 functions will lead to innovative therapeutic strategies for the intervention of cancer and other abnormalities of normal tissues.


RUNX1, breast cancer, cancer, hematopoiesis, leukemia, mammary gland development

DOI of Published Version



J Cell Physiol. 2019 Jun;234(6):8597-8609. doi: 10.1002/jcp.27841. Epub 2018 Dec 4. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of cellular physiology

PubMed ID