Maintaining cell identity: PRC2-mediated regulation of transcription and cancer

Nat Rev Cancer. 2016 Dec;16(12):803-810. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2016.83. Epub 2016 Sep 23.


Enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2), the catalytic subunit of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), has attracted broad research attention in the past few years because of its involvement in the development and maintenance of many types of cancer and the use of specific EZH2 inhibitors in clinical trials. Several observations show that PRC2 can have both oncogenic and tumour-suppressive functions. We propose that these apparently opposing roles of PRC2 in cancer are a consequence of the molecular function of the complex in maintaining, rather than specifying, the transcriptional repression state of its several thousand target genes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*


  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2