Histone modification plays important molecular roles in development and progression of cancers. Dysregulation of histone H3 arginine (R) methylation is still unknown in primary cancer, including gastric cancer (GC). Although PRMT6 contributes to asymmetric dimethylation at H3R2 (H3R2me2as) in cancer cells, its molecular functions are poorly understood in GC. In this study, we assessed H3R2me2as and PRMT6 expression levels in 133 primary GC tissues by immunohistochemistry. Increased H3R2me2as was found in 68 GC (51.1%) cases and independently related to poor prognosis. PRMT6 was overexpressed in 70 GC (52.6%) and strongly correlated with the global H3R2me2as levels (P < 0.001). By analyzing biological functions of PRMT6 in GC cell lines by lentivirus-based systems, PRMT6 overexpression enhanced global H3R2me2as and invasiveness in vitro, while PRMT6 knockout (PRMT6-KO) suppressed these effects and tumorigenicity in vivo. ChIP and microarray assays demonstrated that PRMT6-KO GC cells decreased the enrichments of H3R2me2as at the promoter regions of PCDH7, SCD and IGFBP5, resulting in upregulation of their gene expression. PRMT6 was recruited to the promoter regions of PCDH7 and SCD in the PRMT6-overexpressed cells. Knockdown of tumor suppressor PCDH7 in the PRMT6-KO GC cells elevated cell migration and invasion. PRMT6 expression inversely correlated with PCDH7 expression in primary GC (P = 0.021). Collectively, our findings strongly indicate that H3R2me2as is a strong prognostic indicator of GC patients, and PRMT6-overexpressing GC cells may acquire invasiveness through direct transcriptional inhibition of PCDH7 by increasing H3R2me2as level. Thus, inhibition of the PRMT6-H3R2me2as pathway could be a promising new therapeutic strategy in GC.
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