Research Papers:

H2AK119Ub1 and H3K27Me3 in molecular staging for survival prediction of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Shi Chen, Jiangzhi Chen, Qian Zhan, Yi Zhu, Hao Chen, Xiaxing Deng, Zhaoyuan Hou, Baiyong Shen, Yanling Chen and Chenghong Peng _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:10421-10433. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2126

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Shi Chen1,3,*, Jiangzhi Chen1,2,*, Qian Zhan1, Yi Zhu1, Hao Chen1, Xiaxing Deng1, Zhaoyuan Hou4, Baiyong Shen1, Yanling Chen2, Chenghong Peng1

1 Department of Surgery, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Surgery, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

2 Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Union Hospital, Fujian Institute of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, China

3 Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Fujian Provincial Hospital, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, China.

4 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, Shanghai Key Laboratory for Tumor Microenvironment and Inflammation, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

* These authors contributed equally to this paper


Chenghong Peng, email:

Yanling Chen, email:

Keywords: histone modification; molecular staging; prognosis; pancreatic cancer

Received: April 11, 2014 Accepted: June 20, 2014 Published: June 22, 2014


Polycomb group (PcG) proteins Ring1B and EZH2, which have been characterized as catalyzing the two epigenetic modifications H2AK119 monoubiquitination (H2AK119Ub1) and H3K27 trimethylation (H3K27Me3), are well-known epigenetic silencers implicated in embryonic development and tumorigenesis. However, the status of polycomb-associated histone modifications and their clinical implications in pancreatic cancer remain unclear. Here, we performed immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays (TMAs) containing 80 pairs of human pancreatic cancer specimens to assess the expression levels of Ring1B, H2AK119Ub1, EZH2, and H3K27Me3 in tumors. More than 50% of the tumor cells showed a high expression of H2AK119Ub1, Ring1B, and EZH2, whereas more than 50% of the tumor cells showed a low level of H3K27Me3. Different expression patterns of H2AK119Ub1 and H3K27Me3 in tumors were negatively correlated (r = -0.247, P = 0.027). Both H2AK119Ub1 and H3K27Me3 independently predicted the clinical prognosis. In particular, a combinatorial pattern of elevated H2AK119Ub1 and decreased H3K27Me3 in tumors was significantly correlated with a poorer prognosis. Furthermore, compared to the tumor, lymph node, metastasis (TNM) staging system, histone modifications can discriminate the survival difference more accurately, especially for patients with stage I or stage II tumors. Simultaneous silencing of Ring1B and EZH2 via shRNA depleted H2AK119Ub1 and H3K27Me3 in the pancreatic cancer cells PanC1 and AsPC1, enhanced HOX gene derepression, and inhibited tumor cell growth in vitro and in tumor xenograft models. These results demonstrated that H2AK119Ub1 and H3K27Me3 cooperate in tumors and are associated with the clinical prognosis in combinatorial patterns. We have proposed that epigenetic modifications may serve as discriminatory biomarkers for molecular staging of pancreatic cancer.

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