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Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Dec;8(12):3191-202. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0479.

Combinatorial pharmacologic approaches target EZH2-mediated gene repression in breast cancer cells.

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Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, Genome Institute of Singapore, 60 Biopolis Street, #02-01 Genome, Singapore 138672.


Polycomb protein EZH2-mediated gene silencing is implicated in breast tumorigenesis through methylation of histone H3 on Lysine 27 (H3K27). We have previously shown that S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase inhibitor 3-deazaneplanocin A can modulate histone methylation and disrupt EZH2 complex. Here, we used 3-deazaneplanocin A, together with other chromatin remodeling agents, as well as RNA interference-mediated EZH2 depletion, to probe the role of EZH2 in coordination with other epigenetic components in gene regulation in breast cancer cells. Through genome-wide gene expression analysis, coupled with extensive chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of histone modifications, we have identified a variety of gene sets that are regulated either by EZH2 alone or through the coordinated action of EZH2 with HDAC and/or DNA methylation. We further found that tumor antigen GAGEs were regulated by distinct epigenetic mechanisms in a cell context-dependent manner, possibly reflecting mechanistic heterogeneity in breast cancer. Intriguingly, we found that EZH2 regulates a remarkable cohort of genes whose functions are highly enriched in immunoresponse and autocrine inflammation network, and that their transcriptional activation upon EZH2 perturbation is cancer specific, revealing a potential novel role of EZH2 in regulating cancer immunity. These findings show the complexity and diversity of epigenetic regulation in human cancer and underscore the importance for developing combinatorial pharmacologic approaches for effective epigenetic gene reactivation.

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