Because large-scale cell identity shifts are often orchestrated on an epigenetic level, we screened for candidate epigenetic factors and identified the histone methyltransferase SUV420H2 (KMT5C) as favoring the mesenchymal identity in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Through its repressive mark H4K20me3, SUV420H2 silences several key drivers of the epithelial state. Its knockdown elicited mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition on a molecular and functional level, and cells displayed decreased stemness and increased drug sensitivity. Read more . . .
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is implicated in metastasis, where carcinoma cells lose sessile epithelial traits and acquire mesenchymal migratory potential. The mesenchymal state is also associated with cancer stem cells and resistance to chemotherapy. It might therefore be therapeutically beneficial to promote epithelial identity in cancer.