EHMT2 inhibition induces cell death in human non-small cell lung cancer by altering the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway

Haeun Kim, Seo Yoon Choi, Jinyeong Lim, Anders M. Lindroth, Yoon Jung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a major subtype of lung cancer. Besides genetic and environmental factors, epigenetic alterations contribute to the tumorigenesis of NSCLC. Epigenetic changes are considered key drivers of cancer initiation and progression, and altered expression and activity of epigenetic modifiers reshape the epigenetic landscape in cancer cells. Euchromatic histone-lysine N-methyltransferase 2 (EHMT2) is a histone methyltransferase and catalyzes mono-and di-methylation at histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me1 and H3K9me2, respectively), leading to gene silencing. EHMT2 overexpression has been reported in various types of cancer, including ovarian cancer and neuroblastoma, in relation to cell proliferation and metastasis. However, its role in NSCLC is not fully understood. In this study, we showed that EHMT2 gene expression was higher in NSCLC than normal lung tissue based on publicly available data. Inhibition of EHMT2 by BIX01294 (BIX) reduced cell viability of NSCLC cell lines via induction of autophagy. Through RNA sequencing analysis, we found that EHMT2 inhibition significantly affected the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. BIX treatment directly induced the expression of SREBF2, which is a master regulator of cholesterol biosynthesis, by lowering H3K9me1 and H3K9me2 at the promoter. Treatment of a cholesterol biosynthesis inhibitor, 25-hydroxycholesterol (25-HC), partially recovered BIX-induced cell death by attenuating autophagy. Our data demonstrated that EHMT2 inhibition effectively induced cell death in NSCLC cells through altering cholesterol metabolism-dependent autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1002
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Autophagy
  • Cancer metabolism
  • Cholesterol synthesis
  • EHMT2
  • Epigenetics
  • Lung cancer


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