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Front Immunol. 2015 Sep 25;6:487. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2015.00487. eCollection 2015.

Functional Role of G9a Histone Methyltransferase in Cancer.

Author information

1
Control of Gene Expression Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute , Herston, QLD , Australia ; School of Natural Sciences, Griffith University , Nathan, QLD , Australia.
2
Control of Gene Expression Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute , Herston, QLD , Australia.
3
Control of Gene Expression Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute , Herston, QLD , Australia ; Faculty of Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology , Kelvin Grove, QLD , Australia ; School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland , Brisbane, QLD , Australia.

Abstract

Post-translational modifications of DNA and histones are epigenetic mechanisms, which affect the chromatin structure, ultimately leading to gene expression changes. A number of different epigenetic enzymes are actively involved in the addition or the removal of various covalent modifications, which include acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and sumoylation. Deregulation of these processes is a hallmark of cancer. For instance, G9a, a histone methyltransferase responsible for histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) mono- and dimethylation, has been observed to be upregulated in different types of cancer and its overexpression has been associated with poor prognosis. Key roles played by these enzymes in various diseases have led to the hypothesis that these molecules represent valuable targets for future therapies. Several small molecule inhibitors have been developed to specifically block the epigenetic activity of these enzymes, representing promising therapeutic tools in the treatment of human malignancies, such as cancer. In this review, the role of one of these epigenetic enzymes, G9a, is discussed, focusing on its functional role in regulating gene expression as well as its implications in cancer initiation and progression. We also discuss important findings from recent studies using epigenetic inhibitors in cell systems in vitro as well as experimental tumor growth and metastasis assays in vivo.

KEYWORDS:

G9a; cancer; epigenetic regulation; histone methylation; metastasis; tumor growth

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