Research ArticleCancer

HIF activation causes synthetic lethality between the VHL tumor suppressor and the EZH1 histone methyltransferase

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Science Translational Medicine  12 Jul 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 398, eaal5272
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aal5272

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Renal cancer’s loss is patients’ gain

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer, and it is typically linked to the loss of von Hippel–Lindau protein (pVHL), a tumor suppressor. This loss results in activation of genes that are normally induced by hypoxia, including some histone demethylases. Chakraborty et al. discovered that increased H3K27 demethylase activity renders pVHL-deficient cells hyperdependent on an opposing H3K27 methyltransferase, EZH1, for survival. Inhibition of EZH1 is lethal for these cells.