EBF3 reactivation by inhibiting the EGR1/EZH2/HDAC9 complex promotes metastasis via transcriptionally enhancing vimentin in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Cancer Lett. 2022 Feb 28;527:49-65. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2021.12.010. Epub 2021 Dec 11.


Metastasis is the major reason for treatment failure and accounts for cancer-related death in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. However, the genetic alterations and molecular mechanisms that cause nasopharyngeal carcinoma metastasis are elusive. Herein, we performed RNA sequencing in patients with or without metastasis, and found that the early B-cell factor 3 (EBF3) was significantly elevated in the samples with metastasis. Mechanistically, EBF3 promoted metastasis by directly combining with the promoter of Vimentin and transcriptionally upregulating it. In addition, EBF3 was epigenetically silenced by EGR1/EZH2/HDAC9 complexes via sustaining the high level of H3K27-Me3 at its promoter. Clinically, there was a positive correlation between EBF3 and Vimentin in nasopharyngeal carcinoma tissues. Moreover, high expression of EBF3 or Vimentin was correlated with poor overall survival, while the combination of high EBF3 and Vimentin expression was associated with more significant poor prognosis. Therefore, specific agents targeting EBF3 or stabilizing the EGR1/EZH2/HDAC9 complex could be novel therapeutic strategies for cancer metastasis.

Keywords: Early B-Cell factor 3; Early growth response 1; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Tumor metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Vimentin / pharmacology
  • Vimentin / therapeutic use*


  • EBF3 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Vimentin
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein