Global Decrease of Histone H3K27 Acetylation in ZEB1-Induced Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition in Lung Cancer Cells.

PMID 24216980


The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) enables epithelial cells with a migratory mesenchymal phenotype. It is activated in cancer cells and is involved in invasion, metastasis and stem-like properties. ZEB1, an E-box binding transcription factor, is a major suppressor of epithelial genes in lung cancer. In the present study, we show that in H358 non-small cell lung cancer cells, ZEB1 downregulates EpCAM (coding for an epithelial cell adhesion molecule), ESRP1 (epithelial splicing regulatory protein), ST14 (a membrane associated serine protease involved in HGF processing) and RAB25 (a small G-protein) by direct binding to these genes. Following ZEB1 induction, acetylation of histone H4 and histone H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9) and 27 (H3K27) was decreased on ZEB1 binding sites on these genes as demonstrated by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Of note, decreased H3K27 acetylation could be also detected by western blot and immunocytochemistry in ZEB1 induced cells. In lung cancers, H3K27 acetylation level was higher in the tumor compartment than in the corresponding stroma where ZEB1 was more often expressed. Since HDAC and DNA methylation inhibitors increased expression of ZEB1 target genes, targeting these epigenetic modifications would be expected to reduce metastasis.