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Breast Cancer Res. 2009;11(4):R63. doi: 10.1186/bcr2354. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

BRCA1-deficient mammary tumor cells are dependent on EZH2 expression and sensitive to Polycomb Repressive Complex 2-inhibitor 3-deazaneplanocin A.

Author information

  • 1Molecular Genetics and Cancer Genomics Centre, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Julianpuppe@gmx.de

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Treatment of breast cancer is becoming more individualized with the recognition of tumor subgroups that respond differently to available therapies. Breast cancer 1 gene (BRCA1)-deficient tumors are usually of the basal subtype and associated with poor survival rates, highlighting the need for more effective therapy.

METHODS:

We investigated a mouse model that closely mimics breast cancer arising in BRCA1-mutation carriers to better understand the molecular mechanism of tumor progression and tested whether targeting of the Polycomb-group protein EZH2 would be a putative therapy for BRCA1-deficient tumors.

RESULTS:

Gene expression analysis demonstrated that EZH2 is overexpressed in BRCA1-deficient mouse mammary tumors. By immunohistochemistry we show that an increase in EZH2 protein levels is also evident in tumors from BRCA1-mutation carriers. EZH2 is responsible for repression of genes driving differentiation and could thus be involved in the undifferentiated phenotype of these tumors. Importantly, we show that BRCA1-deficient cancer cells are selectively dependent on their elevated EZH2 levels. In addition, a chemical inhibitor of EZH2, 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep), is about 20-fold more effective in killing BRCA1-deficient cells compared to BRCA1-proficient mammary tumor cells.

CONCLUSIONS:

We demonstrate by specific knock-down experiments that EZH2 overexpression is functionally relevant in BRCA1-deficient breast cancer cells. The effectiveness of a small molecule inhibitor indicates that EZH2 is a druggable target. The overexpression of EZH2 in all basal-like breast cancers warrants further investigation of the potential for targeting the genetic make-up of this particular breast cancer type.

PMID:
19709408
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2750125
Free PMC Article
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