Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2019; 10:4348-4349.

Inhibition of EHMT2/G9a epigenetically increases the transcription of Beclin-1 via an increase in ROS and activation of NF-κB

Sang Eun Park _, Hye Jin Yi, Nayoung Suh, Yun-Yong Park, Jae-Young Koh, Seong-Yun Jeong, Dong-Hyung Cho, Choung-Soo Kim and Jung Jin Hwang

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:39796-39808. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9290

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Sang Eun Park1,7, Hye Jin Yi1, Nayoung Suh9, Yun-Yong Park2,5, Jae-Young Koh3,4,6, Seong-Yun Jeong1,2,5, Dong-Hyung Cho8, Choung-Soo Kim1,4,7, Jung Jin Hwang1,2,5

1Institute for Innovative Cancer Research, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

2Asan Institute for Life Sciences, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

3Department of Neurology, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

4Department of Urology, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

5Department of Convergence Medicine, University of Ulsan, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

6Neural Injury Research Lab, University of Ulsan, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

7Department of Urology, University of Ulsan, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

8Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, Korea

9Department of Medicine Engineering, Soon Chun Hyang University, College of Medical Sciences, Asan, Korea

Correspondence to:

Jung Jin Hwang, e-mail: [email protected]

Choung-Soo Kim, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: EHMT2/G9a, histone methyltransferase, Beclin-1, autophagy, epigenetic regulation

Received: October 14, 2015    Accepted: April 16, 2016    Published: May 11, 2016


We previously reported that BIX-01294 (BIX), a small molecular inhibitor of euchromatic histone-lysine N-methyltransferase 2 (EHMT2/G9a), induces reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent autophagy in MCF-7 cells. Herein, we analyzed the epigenetic mechanism that regulates the transcription of Beclin-1, a tumor suppressor and an autophagy-related gene (ATG). Inhibition of EHMT2 reduced dimethylation of lysine 9 on histone H3 (H3K9me2) and dissociated EHMT2 and H3K9me2 from the promoter of Beclin-1. To this promoter, RNA polymerase II and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) were recruited in a ROS-dependent manner, resulting in transcriptional activation. Moreover, treatment with BIX reversed the suppression of Beclin-1 by the cooperative action of EHMT2 and DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1). Accordingly, a combination treatment with BIX and 5-Aza-2’-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-Cd), a DNMT1 inhibitor, exerted a synergistic effect on Beclin-1 expression. Importantly, high levels of EHMT2 expression showed a significant association with low levels of Beclin-1 expression, which was related to a poor prognosis. These findings suggest that EHMT2 can directly repress Beclin-1 and that the inhibition of EHMT2 may be a useful therapeutic approach for cancer prevention by activating autophagy.

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