Publication date: Feb 10, 2020
Upregulation of the histone methyltransferase enzyme EZH2 and its histone modification H3K27me3 has been linked to melanoma progression, metastasis, and resistance to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). In clinical trials, EZH2 inhibitors are currently tested to overcome resistance to ICB. The aim of this study is to evaluate expression patterns and the predictive value of H3K27me3 and EZH2 in metastatic melanoma samples prior to ICB. As H3K27me3 expression has been associated with a dedifferentiated, invasive melanoma phenotype, we also investigated the prognostic value of H3K27me3 expression in primary melanomas.
H3K27me3 and EZH2 expression were evaluated in a cohort of 44 metastatic melanoma samples before ICB using immunohistochemistry (IHC). 29/44 (66%) of melanomas showed H3K27me3 expression, and 6/44 (14%) showed EZH2 expression. No predictive value for therapeutic response to anti-PD-1 therapy could be found for H3K27me3 or EZH2 expression on melanoma cells. To investigate the prognostic significance of H3K27me3, we analyzed H3K27me3 expression in a representative cohort of 136 primary melanomas with known sentinel lymph node status. H3K27me3 expression is associated with increased tumor thickness and nodal involvement. Melanoma metastases showed a higher expression of H3K27me3 in comparison to primary melanomas. In human melanoma cell lines, TNF? and INF? could not induce H3K27me3 expression.
Our study shows that H3K27me3 expression is more frequent than EZH2 and is associated with a more invasive and metastatic melanoma cell phenotype. We suggest that H3K27me3 expression by IHC might be a suitable method to evaluate the activity of EZH2 inhibitors in clinical trials.
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Hoffmann, F., Niebel, D., Aymans, P., Ferring-Schmitt, S., Dietrich, D., and Landsberg, J. H3K27me3 and EZH2 expression in melanoma: relevance for melanoma progression and response to immune checkpoint blockade. 25771. 2020 Clin Epigenetics (12):1.
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