Chromatin modulators are emerging as attractive drug targets, given their widespread implication in human cancers and susceptibility to pharmacological inhibition. Here we establish the histone methyltransferase G9a/EHMT2 as a selective regulator of fast proliferating myeloid progenitors with no discernible function in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). In mouse models of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), loss of G9a significantly delays disease progression and reduces leukemia stem cell (LSC) frequency. We connect this function of G9a to its methyltransferase activity and its interaction with the leukemogenic transcription factor HoxA9 and provide evidence that primary human AML cells are sensitive to G9A inhibition. Our results highlight a clinical potential of G9A inhibition as a means to counteract the proliferation and self-renewal of AML cells by attenuating HoxA9-dependent transcription.
Keywords: Hox genes; hematopoiesis; histone methylation; leukemia.