Priority Research Papers:

The histone demethylase Kdm3a is required for normal epithelial proliferation, ductal elongation and tumor growth in the mouse mammary gland

Li Qin, Yixiang Xu, Xiaobin Yu, Michael J. Toneff, Dabing Li, Lan Liao, Jarrod D. Martinez, Yi Li and Jianming Xu _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:84761-84775. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21380

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Li Qin1, Yixiang Xu1,2, Xiaobin Yu1, Michael J. Toneff1, Dabing Li1,3, Lan Liao1, Jarrod D. Martinez1, Yi Li1 and Jianming Xu1,3

1 Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

2 Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Houston, TX, USA

3 Institute for Cancer Medicine and College of Basic Biomedical Sciences, Southwest Medical University, Sichuan, China

Correspondence to:

Jianming Xu, email:

Li Qin , email:

Keywords: Kdm3a, knockout mice, mammary gland growth, breast cancer, cyclin D1

Received: July 18, 2017 Accepted: August 31, 2017 Published: September 28, 2017


Histone modification alters chromatin architecture to regulate gene transcription. KDM3A is a histone demethylase in the JmjC domain-containing protein family. It removes di- and mono- methyl residues from di- or mono-methylated lysine 9 of histone H3 (H3K9me2/me1). Recent studies have shown that Kdm3a plays an important role in self-renewal of embryonic stem cells, spermatogenesis, metabolism, sex determination and tumor angiogenesis. However, its role in mammary gland development and breast carcinogenesis remains unclear. In this study, we found that Kdm3a is expressed in the mouse mammary gland epithelial cells. Knockout of Kdm3a significantly increased H3K9me2/me1 levels in these epithelial cells, which correlated with markedly decreased mammary gland ductal elongation and branching in the intact knockout virgin mice. Furthermore, estrogen replacement in the ovariectomized Kdm3a knockout mice couldn’t rescue the retarded ductal growth. Moreover, transplantation of KO mammary gland pieces to wild type recipient mice showed slower ductal growth compared with that of WT gland pieces. Consistently, knockout of Kdm3a also reduced the proliferation rates and cyclin D1 expression in the mammary gland epithelial cells. In addition, Kdm3a knockout did not significantly change the latency of the polyoma middle T oncogene-induced mammary gland tumorigenesis. Tumor growth, however, was slowed which might be due to the decrease in cyclin D1 expression and tumor cell proliferation. We also found that Kdm3a binds and activates the cyclin D1 promoter. These results demonstrate that Kdm3a plays an important intrinsic role in promoting mammary gland ductal growth and tumor growth probably through enhancing cyclin D1 expression and cell proliferation.

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