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Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 1;18(1):77-90. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0962. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Polycomb repressor complex-2 is a novel target for mesothelioma therapy.

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  • 1Thoracic Oncology Section, Surgery Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.



Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are critical epigenetic mediators of stem cell pluripotency, which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of human cancers. This study was undertaken to examine the frequency and clinical relevance of PcG protein expression in malignant pleural mesotheliomas (MPM).


Microarray, quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR), immunoblot, and immunohistochemistry techniques were used to examine PcG protein expression in cultured MPM, mesothelioma specimens, and normal mesothelial cells. Lentiviral short hairpin RNA techniques were used to inhibit EZH2 and EED expression in MPM cells. Proliferation, migration, clonogenicity, and tumorigenicity of MPM cells either exhibiting knockdown of EZH2 or EED, or exposed to 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep), and respective controls were assessed by cell count, scratch and soft agar assays, and murine xenograft experiments. Microarray and qRT-PCR techniques were used to examine gene expression profiles mediated by knockdown of EZH2 or EED, or DZNep.


EZH2 and EED, which encode components of polycomb repressor complex-2 (PRC-2), were overexpressed in MPM lines relative to normal mesothelial cells. EZH2 was overexpressed in approximately 85% of MPMs compared with normal pleura, correlating with diminished patient survival. Overexpression of EZH2 coincided with decreased levels of miR-101 and miR-26a. Knockdown of EZH2 orEED, or DZNep treatment, decreased global H3K27Me3 levels, and significantly inhibited proliferation, migration, clonogenicity, and tumorigenicity of MPM cells. Common as well as differential gene expression profiles were observed following knockdown of PRC-2 members or DZNep treatment.


Pharmacologic inhibition of PRC-2 expression/activity is a novel strategy for mesothelioma therapy.

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