Going beyond Polycomb: EZH2 functions in prostate cancer

Su H. Park, Ka Wing Fong, Ezinne Mong, M. Cynthia Martin, Gary E. Schiltz, Jindan Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The Polycomb group (PcG) protein Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2) is one of the three core subunits of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2). It harbors histone methyltransferase activity (MTase) that specifically catalyze histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27) methylation on target gene promoters. As such, PRC2 are epigenetic silencers that play important roles in cellular identity and embryonic stem cell maintenance. In the past two decades, mounting evidence supports EZH2 mutations and/or over-expression in a wide array of hematological cancers and solid tumors, including prostate cancer. Further, EZH2 is among the most upregulated genes in neuroendocrine prostate cancers, which become abundant due to the clinical use of high-affinity androgen receptor pathway inhibitors. While numerous studies have reported epigenetic functions of EZH2 that inhibit tumor suppressor genes and promote tumorigenesis, discordance between EZH2 and H3K27 methylation has been reported. Further, enzymatic EZH2 inhibitors have shown limited efficacy in prostate cancer, warranting a more comprehensive understanding of EZH2 functions. Here we first review how canonical functions of EZH2 as a histone MTase are regulated and describe the various mechanisms of PRC2 recruitment to the chromatin. We further outline non-histone substrates of EZH2 and discuss post-translational modifications to EZH2 itself that may affect substrate preference. Lastly, we summarize non-canonical functions of EZH2, beyond its MTase activity and/or PRC2, as a transcriptional cofactor and discuss prospects of its therapeutic targeting in prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5788-5798
Number of pages11
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 30 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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