UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology; Department of Pediatrics; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; UMass Metabolic Network; Department of Radiology; Nickerson Lab; Imbalzano Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Cancer Biology | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Molecular Biology | Oncology


Tumor cells reprogram their metabolism to survive and grow in a challenging microenvironment. Some of this reprogramming is performed by epigenetic mechanisms. Epigenetics is in turn affected by metabolism; chromatin modifying enzymes are dependent on substrates that are also key metabolic intermediates. We have shown that the chromatin remodeling enzyme Brahma-related gene 1 (BRG1), an epigenetic regulator, is necessary for rapid breast cancer cell proliferation. The mechanism for this requirement is the BRG1-dependent transcription of key lipogenic enzymes and regulators. Reduction in lipid synthesis lowers proliferation rates, which can be restored by palmitate supplementation. This work has established BRG1 as an attractive target for breast cancer therapy. Unlike genetic alterations, epigenetic mechanisms are reversible, promising gentler therapies without permanent off-target effects at distant sites.


SMARCA4, SWI/SNF, breast cancer, cancer metabolism, chromatin remodeling, epigenetic regulation, fatty acid synthesis pathway

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Copyright: © 2017 Nickerson, Wu and Imbalzano.

DOI of Published Version



Front Oncol. 2017 Apr 4;7:49. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2017.00049. eCollection 2017. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in oncology

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.