Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are highly conserved epigenetic effectors that maintain the silenced state of genes. EZH2 is the catalytic core and one of the most important components of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and primary lung tumors, we found that PRC2 components, including EZH2, are overexpressed. High levels of EZH2 protein were associated with worse overall survival rate in NSCLC patients. RNA interference mediated attenuation of EZH2 expression blunted the malignant phenotype in this setting, exerting inhibitory effects on cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor development in a xenograft mouse model. Unexpectedly, we discovered that, in the suppression of EZH2, p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) expression was concomitantly induced. This is achieved through EZH2 directly binds to the Puma promoter thus epigenetic repression of PUMA expression. Furthermore, cisplatin-induced apoptosis of EZH2-knocking down NSCLC cells was elevated as a consequence of increased PUMA expression. Our work reveals a novel epigenetic regulatory mechanism controlling PUMA expression and suggests that EZH2 offers a candidate molecular target for NSCLC therapy and EZH2-regulated PUMA induction would synergistically increase the sensitivity to platinum agents in non-small cell lung cancers.
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Polycomb repressive complex 2
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