Dual EZH2 and EHMT2 histone methyltransferase inhibition increases biological efficacy in breast cancer cells.
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Background Many cancers show aberrant silencing of gene expression and overexpression of histone methyltransferases. The histone methyltransferases (HKMT) EZH2 and EHMT2 maintain the repressive chromatin histone methylation marks H3K27me and H3K9me, respectively, which are associated with transcriptional silencing. Although selective HKMT inhibitors reduce levels of individual repressive marks, removal of H3K27me3 by specific EZH2 inhibitors, for instance, may not be sufficient for inducing the expression of genes with multiple repressive marks.Results We report that gene expression and inhibition of triple negative breast cancer cell growth (MDA-MB-231) are markedly increased when targeting both EZH2 and EHMT2, either by siRNA knockdown or pharmacological inhibition, rather than either enzyme independently. Indeed, expression of certain genes is only induced upon dual inhibition. We sought to identify compounds which showed evidence of dual EZH2 and EHMT2 inhibition. Using a cell-based assay, based on the substrate competitive EHMT2 inhibitor BIX01294, we have identified proof-of-concept compounds that induce re-expression of a subset of genes consistent with dual HKMT inhibition. Chromatin immunoprecipitation verified a decrease in silencing marks and an increase in permissive marks at the promoter and transcription start site of re-expressed genes, while Western analysis showed reduction in global levels of H3K27me3 and H3K9me3. The compounds inhibit growth in a panel of breast cancer and lymphoma cell lines with low to sub-micromolar IC50s. Biochemically, the compounds are substrate competitive inhibitors against both EZH2 and EHMT1/2.Conclusions We have demonstrated that dual inhibition of EZH2 and EHMT2 is more effective at eliciting biological responses of gene transcription and cancer cell growth inhibition compared to inhibition of single HKMTs, and we report the first dual EZH2-EHMT1/2 substrate competitive inhibitors that are functional in cells.
Medicine (Brown Epigenetic Therapy)
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Clinical epigenetics, 2015, 7 pp. 84 - ?