Aicardi-goutières syndrome gene rnaseh2c is a metastasis susceptibility gene in breast cancer

Sarah K. Deasy, Ryo Uehara, Suman K. Vodnala, Howard H. Yang, Randall A. Dass, Ying Hu, Maxwell P. Lee, Robert J. Crouch, Kent W. Hunter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, with the majority of these deaths due to metastatic lesions rather than the primary tumor. Thus, a better understanding of the etiology of metastatic disease is crucial for improving survival. Using a haplotype mapping strategy in mouse and shRNA-mediated gene knockdown, we identified Rnaseh2c, a scaffolding protein of the heterotrimeric RNase H2 endoribonuclease complex, as a novel metastasis susceptibility factor. We found that the role of Rnaseh2c in metastatic disease is independent of RNase H2 enzymatic activity, and immunophenotyping and RNA-sequencing analysis revealed engagement of the T cell-mediated adaptive immune response. Furthermore, the cGAS-Sting pathway was not activated in the metastatic cancer cells used in this study, suggesting that the mechanism of immune response in breast cancer is different from the mechanism proposed for Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome, a rare interferonopathy caused by RNase H2 mutation. These results suggest an important novel, non-enzymatic role for RNASEH2C during breast cancer progression and add Rnaseh2c to a panel of genes we have identified that together could determine patients with high risk for metastasis. These results also highlight a potential new target for combination with immunotherapies and may contribute to a better understanding of the etiology of Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008020
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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