Ezh2 regulates differentiation and function of natural killer cells through histone methyltransferase activity

Academic Article


  • Changes of histone modification status at critical lineage-specifying gene loci in multipotent precursors can influence cell fate commitment. The contribution of these epigenetic mechanisms to natural killer (NK) cell lineage determination from common lymphoid precursors is not understood. Here we investigate the impact of histone methylation repressive marks (H3 Lys27 trimethylation; H3K27me3) on early NK cell differentiation. We demonstrate that selective loss of the histone-lysine N-methyltransferase Ezh2 (enhancer of zeste homolog 2) or inhibition of its enzymatic activity with smallmolecules unexpectedly increased generation of the IL-15 receptor (IL-15R) CD122+ NK precursors and mature NK progeny from both mouse and human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Mechanistic studies revealed that enhanced NK cell expansion and cytotoxicity against tumor cells were associated with up-regulation of CD122 and the C-type lectin receptor NKG2D. Moreover, NKG2D deficiency diminished the positive effects of Ezh2 inhibitors on NK cell commitment. Identification of the contribution of Ezh2 to NK lineage specification and function reveals an epigenetic-based mechanism that regulates NK cell development and provides insight into the clinical application of Ezh2 inhibitors in NK-based cancer immunotherapies.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yin J; Leavenworth JW; Li Y; Luo Q; Xie H; Liu X; Huang S; Yan H; Fu Z; Zhang LY
  • Start Page

  • 15988
  • End Page

  • 15993
  • Volume

  • 112
  • Issue

  • 52