Curcumin induces down-regulation of EZH2 expression through the MAPK pathway in MDA-MB-435 human breast cancer cells

Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Jul 10;637(1-3):16-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.03.051. Epub 2010 Apr 10.


Curcumin, a natural compound isolated from turmeric, may inhibit cell proliferation in various tumor cells through a mechanism that is not fully understood. The enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) gene is overexpressed in human breast cancers with poor prognosis. In this study, we observed a dose- and time-dependent down-regulation of expression of EZH2 by curcumin that correlates with decreased proliferation in the MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cell line. The curcumin treatment resulted in an accumulation of cells in the G(1) phase of the cell cycle. Further investigation revealed that curcumin-induced down-regulation of EZH2 through stimulation of three major members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway: c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 kinase. These data suggest that an underlying mechanism of the MAPK pathway mediates the down-regulation of EZH2, thus contributing to the anti-proliferative effects of curcumin against breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects*
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • EZH2 protein, human
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Curcumin