Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive subtype of breast cancer. Transcriptional dysregulation is a hallmark of cancer, and several transcriptional regulators have been demonstrated to contribute to cancer progression. Here, we identified upregulation of the transcriptional corepressor DRAP1 in TNBC, which was closely associated with poor recurrence-free survival in TNBC patients. DRAP1 promoted TNBC proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro and tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Mechanistically, the DR1/DRAP1 heterodimer complex inhibited expression of the arginine sensor CASTOR1 and thereby increased activation of mTOR, which sensitized TNBC to treatment with the mTOR inhibitor everolimus. DRAP1 and DR1 also formed a positive feedback loop. DRAP1 enhanced the stability of DR1, recruiting the deubiquitinase USP7 to inhibit its proteasomal degradation; in turn, DR1 directly promoted DRAP1 transcription. Collectively, this study uncovered a DRAP1-DR1 bidirectional regulatory pathway that promotes TNBC progression, suggesting that targeting the DRAP1/DR1 complex might be a potential therapeutic strategy to treat TNBC.

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