As a master regulator of chromatin function, the lysine methyltransferase EZH2 orchestrates transcriptional silencing of developmental gene networks. Overexpression of EZH2 is commonly observed in human epithelial cancers, such as non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), yet definitive demonstration of malignant transformation by deregulated EZH2 remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate the causal role of EZH2 overexpression in NSCLC with new genetically-engineered mouse models of lung adenocarcinoma. Deregulated EZH2 silences normal developmental pathways leading to epigenetic transformation independent from canonical growth factor pathway activation. As such, tumors feature a transcriptional program distinct from KRAS- and EGFR-mutant mouse lung cancers, but shared with human lung adenocarcinomas exhibiting high EZH2 expression. To target EZH2-dependent cancers, we developed a novel and potent EZH2 inhibitor JQEZ5 that promoted the regression of EZH2-driven tumors in vivo, confirming oncogenic addiction to EZH2 in established tumors and providing the rationale for epigenetic therapy in a subset of lung cancer.
- Received February 5, 2016.
- Revision received June 13, 2016.
- Accepted June 14, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.