Combined functional genomic and chemical screens identify SETD8 as a therapeutic target in MYC-driven medulloblastoma

JCI Insight. 2019 Jan 10;4(1):e122933. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.122933.


Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most prevalent malignant brain tumor in children, accounting for 20% of all childhood brain tumors. The molecular profiling of MB into 4 major subgroups (WNT, SHH, Grp3, and Grp4) emphasizes the heterogeneity of MB and opens paths in which treatments may be targeted to molecularly aggressive and distinct tumors. Current therapeutic strategies for Group 3 MB are challenging and can be accompanied by long-term side effects from treatment. The involvement of altered epigenetic machinery in neoplastic transformation in MB has become more evident. Thus, we performed an epigenomic RNAi and chemical screen and identified SETD8/PRE-SET7/KMT5a as a critical player in maintaining proliferation and cell survival of MB cells. We have found that inhibition of SETD8 effects the migration/invasive ability of MB cells. SETD8 alters H4K20me chromatin occupancy at key genes involved in tumor invasiveness and pluripotency. Interestingly, these results link the aggressive and metastatic behavior of MYC-driven MB with SETD8 activity. Based on our results, we suggest that SETD8 has a critical role mediating Group 3 MB tumorigenesis. Establishing a role for SETD8 as a factor in MYC-driven MB has potential to lead to more effective therapies needed to improve outcomes in high-risk patients.

Keywords: Cancer gene therapy; Cell migration/adhesion; Molecular biology; Oncology.