Ying Liu, Fei Xie, Jialun Li, Jianpeng Xiao, Jie Wang, Zhaolin Mei, Hongjia Fan, Huan Fang, Sha Li, Qiuju Wu, Lin Yuan, Cuicui Liu, You Peng, Weiwei Zhao, Lulu Wang, Jiemin Wong, Jing Li, Jing Feng
The histone H3K9 methyltransferase SETDB2 is involved in cell cycle dysregulation in acute leukemia and has oncogenic roles in gastric cancer. In our study, we found that SETDB2 plays essential roles in breast cancer stem cell maintenance. Depleted SETDB2 significantly decreased the breast cancer stem cell population and mammosphere formation in vitro and also inhibited breast tumor initiation and growth in vivo. Restoring SETDB2 expression rescued the defect in breast cancer stem cell maintenance. A mechanistic analysis showed that SETDB2 upregulated the transcription of the ΔNp63α downstream Hedgehog pathway gene. SETDB2 also interacted with and methylated ΔNp63α, and stabilized ΔNp63α protein. Restoring ΔNp63α expression rescued the breast cancer stem cell maintenance defect which mediated by SETDB2 knockdown. In conclusion, our study reveals a novel function of SETDB2 in cancer stem cell maintenance in breast cancer.