EZH2, a core component of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), plays a role in transcriptional repression through mediating trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27), and is involved in various biological processes, including hematopoiesis. Overexpression of EZH2 has been identified in a wide range of solid tumors as well as hematological malignancies. Recent studies indicated that 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep), an inhibitor of EZH2, preferentially induces apoptosis in cancer cells, including acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, implying that EZH2 may be a potential new target for epigenetic treatment. On the other hand, whereas PRC2 complex has been reported to participate in epigenetic silencing of a subset of GATA-1 target genes during erythroid differentiation (Yu et al. Mol Cell 2009; Ross et al. MCB 2012), the impact of DZNep on erythropoiesis has not been evaluated.
The K562 erythroid cell line was used for the analysis. The cells were treated with DZNep at doses of 0.2 and 1 microM for 72 h. Quantitative ChIP analysis was performed using antibodies to acetylated H3K9 and GATA-1 (Abcam). siRNA-mediated knockdown of EZH2 was conducted using Amaxa nucleofection technology™ (Amaxa Inc.). For transcription profiling, SurePrint G3 Human GE 8 × 60K (Agilent) and Human Oligo chip 25K (Toray) were used for DZNep-treated and EZH2 knockdown K562 cells, respectively. Gene Ontology was analyzed using the DAVID Bioinformatics Program (http://david.abcc.ncifcrf.gov/).
We first confirmed that DZNep treatment decreased EZH2 protein expression without significantly affecting EZH2 mRNA levels, suggesting that EZH2 was inhibited at the posttranscriptional level. We also confirmed that DZNep treatment significantly inhibited cell growth. Interestingly, the treatment significantly induced erythroid differentiation of K562 cells, as determined by benzidine staining. Transcriptional profiling with untreated and DZNep-treated K562 cells (1 microM) revealed that 789 and 698 genes were upregulated and downregulated (> 2-fold), respectively. The DZNep-induced gene ensemble included prototypical GATA-1 targets, such as SLC4A1, EPB42, ALAS2, HBA, HBG, and HBB. Concomitantly, DZNep treatment at both 0.2 and 1 microM upregulated GATA-1 protein level as determined by Western blotting, whereas the effect on its mRNA levels was weak (1.02- and 1.43-fold induction with 0.2 and 1 microM DZNep treatment, P = 0.73 and 0.026, respectively). Furthermore, analysis using cycloheximide treatment, which blocks protein synthesis, indicated that DZNep treatment could prolong the half-life of GATA-1 protein, suggesting that DZNep may stabilize GATA-1 protein, possibly by affecting proteolytic pathways. Quantitative ChIP analysis confirmed significantly increased GATA-1 occupancy as well as increased acetylated H3K9 levels at the regulatory regions of these target genes.
Next, to examine whether the observed results of DZNep treatment were due to the direct inhibition of EZH2 or hitherto unrecognized effects of the compound, we conducted siRNA-mediated transient knockdown of EZH2 in K562 cells. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that siRNA-mediated EZH2 knockdown had no significant effect on the expression of GATA-1 as well as erythroid-lineage related genes. Furthermore, transcription profiles of the genes in the quantitative range of the array were quite similar between control and EZH2 siRNA-treated K562 cells, with a correlation efficient of 0.977. Based on our profiling results, we are currently exploring the molecular mechanisms by which DZNep promotes erythroid differentiation of K562 cells.
DZNep promotes erythroid differentiation of K562 cells, presumably through a mechanism not directly related to EZH2 inhibition. Our microarray analysis of DZNep-treated K562 cells may provide a better understanding of the mechanism of action of DZNep.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
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