Cancer Cell. 2018 October; Vol 34 (4): p.579-595.e8
William B. Tu, Yu-Jia Shiah, Corey Lourenco, Peter J. Mullen, Dharmendra Dingar, Cornelia Redel, Aaliya Tamachi, Wail Ba-Alawi, Ahmed Aman, Rima Al-awar, David W. Cescon, Benjamin Haibe-Kains, Cheryl H. Arrowsmith, Brian Raught, Paul C. Boutros and Linda Z. Penn.
MYC is an oncogenic driver that regulates transcriptional activation and repression. Surprisingly, mechanisms by which MYC promotes malignant transformation remain unclear. We demonstrate that MYC interacts with the G9a H3K9-methyltransferase complex to control transcriptional repression. Inhibiting G9a hinders MYC chromatin binding at MYC-repressed genes and de-represses gene expression. By identifying the MYC box II region as essential for MYC-G9a interaction, a long-standing missing link between MYC transformation and gene repression is unveiled. Across breast cancer cell lines, the anti-proliferative response to G9a pharmacological inhibition correlates with MYC sensitivity and gene signatures. Consistently, genetically depleting G9a in vivo suppresses MYC-dependent tumor growth. These findings unveil G9a as an epigenetic regulator of MYC transcriptional repression and a therapeutic vulnerability in MYC-driven cancers.