PRC2-mediated epigenetic suppression of type I IFN-STAT2 signaling impairs antitumor immunity in luminal breast cancer


The immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment in some cancer types, such as luminal breast cancer, supports tumor growth and limits therapeutic efficacy. Identifying approaches to induce an immunostimulatory environment could help improve cancer treatment. Here, we demonstrate that inhibition of cancer-intrinsic EZH2 promotes antitumor immunity in estrogen receptor a-positive (ERa+) breast cancer. EZH2 is a component of the PRC2 complex, which catalyzes trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3). A 53-gene PRC2 activity signature was closely associated with the immune responses of ERa+ breast cancer cells. The stimulatory effects of EZH2 inhibition on immune surveillance required specific activation of type I interferon (IFN) signaling. Integrative analysis of PRC2-repressed genes and genome-wide H3K27me3 landscape revealed that type I IFN ligands are epigenetically silenced by H3K27me3. Notably, the transcription factor STAT2, but not STAT1, mediated the immunostimulatory functions of type I IFN signaling. Following EZH2 inhibition, STAT2 was recruited to the promoters of IFN-stimulated genes even in the absence of the cytokines, suggesting the formation of an autocrine IFN-STAT2 axis. In patients with luminal breast cancer, high levels of EZH2 and low levels of STAT2 were associated with the worst antitumor immune responses. Collectively, this work paves the way for the development of an effective therapeutic strategy that may reverse immunosuppression in cancer.


Inhibition of EZH2 activates a type I interferon-STAT2 signaling axis and provides a therapeutic strategy to stimulate antitumor immunity and therapy responsiveness in immunologically cold luminal breast cancer.

Juyeong Hong1,†, Ji Hoon Lee1,†, Zhao Zhang1,†, Yanming Wu1, Mei Yang1, Yiji Liao1, Richard de la Rosa1, Jessica Scheirer1, Douglas Pechacek1, Nu Zhang2, Zhenming Xu2, Tyler Curiel3, Xi Tan1, Tim H-M Huang1, Kexin Xu1, ‡

Article Categories: High Impact Publications