Role of EZH2 in cancer stem cells: from biological insight to a therapeutic target

Yiping Wen _, Jing Cai, Yaya Hou, Zaiju Huang and Zehua Wang

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:37974-37990. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16467

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Yiping Wen1,*, Jing Cai1,*, Yaya Hou1, Zaiju Huang1 and Zehua Wang1

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zehua Wang, email:

Keywords: EZH2, cancer stem cells, sphere, histone lysine methylation, polycomb repressive complex

Received: November 02, 2016 Accepted: March 02, 2017 Published: March 22, 2017


Epigenetic modifications in cancer stem cells largely result in phenotypic and functional heterogeneity in many solid tumors. Increasing evidence indicates that enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2), the catalytic subunit of Polycomb repressor complex 2, is highly expressed in cancer stem cells of numerous malignant tumors and has a critical function in cancer stem cell expansion and maintenance. Here, we review up-to-date information regarding EZH2 expression patterns, functions, and molecular mechanisms in cancer stem cells in various malignant tumors and discuss the therapeutic potential of targeting EZH2 in tumors.

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