Send to

Choose Destination
Oncogene. 2018 Apr;37(16):2079-2088. doi: 10.1038/s41388-017-0096-9. Epub 2018 Jan 30.

MUC1-C activates polycomb repressive complexes and downregulates tumor suppressor genes in human cancer cells.

Author information

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka, Japan.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The PRC2 and PRC1 complexes are aberrantly expressed in human cancers and have been linked to decreases in patient survival. MUC1-C is an oncoprotein that is also overexpressed in diverse human cancers and is associated with a poor prognosis. Recent studies have supported a previously unreported function for MUC1-C in activating PRC2 and PRC1 in cancer cells. In the regulation of PRC2, MUC1-C (i) drives transcription of the EZH2 gene, (ii) binds directly to EZH2, and (iii) enhances occupancy of EZH2 on target gene promoters with an increase in H3K27 trimethylation. Regarding PRC1, which is recruited to PRC2 sites in the hierarchical model, MUC1-C induces BMI1 transcription, forms a complex with BMI1, and promotes H2A ubiquitylation. MUC1-C thereby contributes to the integration of PRC2 and PRC1-mediated repression of tumor suppressor genes, such as CDH1, CDKN2A, PTEN and BRCA1. Like PRC2 and PRC1, MUC1-C is associated with the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) program, cancer stem cell (CSC) state, and acquisition of anticancer drug resistance. In concert with these observations, targeting MUC1-C downregulates EZH2 and BMI1, inhibits EMT and the CSC state, and reverses drug resistance. These findings emphasize the significance of MUC1-C as a therapeutic target for inhibiting aberrant PRC function and reprogramming the epigenome in human cancers.

[Available on 2019-04-01]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center