Document Type : Review Article
CNRS UMR 5309, Inserm, U1209, University of Grenoble Alpes, Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Grenoble, France
Cancer cells have recently been shown to activate hundreds of normally silent tissuerestricted genes, including a specific subset associated with cancer progression and poor prognosis. Within these genes, a class of testis-specific genes designed as cancer/testis, attracted special attention because of their oncogenic roles as well as their potential use in immunotherapy. Here we focus on one of these genes encoding the testis-specific member of the bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) family, known as BRDT. Aberrant activation of BRDT was first detected in lung cancers. In this study, we report that the frequency of BRDT’s aberrant activation in lung cancer varies according to the histological subtypes and in contrast with other cancer/testis genes, it is rarely expressed in other solid tumours. The functional characterization of BRDT in its physiological setting in male germ cells is now painting a clear portrait of its normal activity and also suggests possible underlying oncogenic activities, when the gene is ectopically activated in cancers. Also, these functional studies of BRDT point to specific anti-cancer therapeutic strategies that could be used to “highjack” BRDT’s action and turn it against cancer cells, which express this gene. Finally, BRDT’s expression could be used as a biomarker for cell sensitivity to BET bromodomain inhibitors, which have become newly available as anti-cancer drugs.