Histone-lysine methyltransferase EHMT2 is involved in proliferation, apoptosis, cell invasion, and DNA methylation of human neuroblastoma cells

Ziyan Lu, Yufeng Tian, Helen R. Salwen, Alexandre Chlenski, Lucy A. Godley, J. Usha Raj, Qiwei Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Neuroblastoma (NB), a childhood neoplasm arising from neural crest cells, is characterized by a diversity of clinical behaviors ranging from spontaneous remission to rapid tumor progression and death. In addition to genetic abnormalities, recent studies have indicated that epigenetic aberrations also contribute toward NB pathogenesis. However, the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of NB are largely unknown. Inhibition of euchromatic histone-lysine N-methyltransferase 2 (EHMT2) was evaluated through the measurement of H3K9Me2 levels. Cell proliferation was examined by cell counting in human NB cell lines (LA1-55n, IMR-5, and NMB). The RNA expression of EHMT2, MYCN, and p21 was measured by real-time PCR. The expression of PCNA, MYCN, p53, cyclinD1, H3, H3K27M2, and H3K9Me2 was examined by western blot analysis. In-vitro invasion and the effects of the EHMT2 inhibitor (BIX-01294) were assessed in the Transwell chamber assay. Caspase 3 and 8 activities were measured using a Caspase-Glo assay kit. The level of overall DNA methylation was measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy. BIX-01294, a specific inhibitor of EHMT2 (a key enzyme for histone H3 dimethylation at lysine-9), specifically decreases the overall H3K9Me2 level but not H3K27Me2. The inhibition of EHMT2 decreased the proliferation of NB cells and induced apoptosis by increasing caspase 8/caspase 3 activity. BIX-01294 inhibited NB cell mobility and invasion. This was accompanied by a decreased expression of the MYCN oncogene. Inhibition of EHMT2 enhanced a doxorubicin-induced inhibitory effect on cell proliferation. Finally, EHMT2 inhibition modulated overall DNA methylation levels in NB cells. Our results show that histone-lysine methylation is involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell invasion, and overall DNA methylation in human NB cells. Further understanding of this mechanism may provide an insight into the pathogenesis of NB progression and lead to novel treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-493
Number of pages10
JournalAnti-Cancer Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • EHMT2
  • caspase
  • cell proliferation
  • histone-lysine methyltransferase
  • neuroblastoma
  • overall DNA methylation
  • phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Cancer Research


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