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Geisel School of Medicine


EZH2 is a negative prognostic factor and is overexpressed or activated in most human cancers including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) HNSCC data indicated that EZH2 over-expression was associated with high tumor grade and conferred poor prognosis. EZH2 inhibition triggered cell apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and decreased cell growth in vitro. MICU1 (mitochondrial calcium uptake1) was shown to be down regulated when EZH2 expression was inhibited in HNSCC. When the EZH2 and MICU1 were inhibited, HNSCC cells became susceptible to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Mitochondrial membrane potential and cytosolic Ca2+ concentration analysis suggested that EZH2 and MICU1 were required to maintain mitochondrial membrane potential stability. A xenograft tumor model was used to confirm that EZH2 depletion inhibited HNSCC cell growth and induced tumor cell apoptosis. In summary, EZH2 is a potential anti-tumor target in HNSCC.