SETD7 functions as a transcription repressor in prostate cancer via methylating FOXA1

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Aug 15;120(33):e2220472120. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2220472120. Epub 2023 Aug 7.


Dysregulation of histone lysine methyltransferases and demethylases is one of the major mechanisms driving the epigenetic reprogramming of transcriptional networks in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). In addition to their canonical histone targets, some of these factors can modify critical transcription factors, further impacting oncogenic transcription programs. Our recent report demonstrated that LSD1 can demethylate the lysine 270 of FOXA1 in prostate cancer (PCa) cells, leading to the stabilization of FOXA1 chromatin binding. This process enhances the activities of the androgen receptor and other transcription factors that rely on FOXA1 as a pioneer factor. However, the identity of the methyltransferase responsible for FOXA1 methylation and negative regulation of the FOXA1-LSD1 oncogenic axis remains unknown. SETD7 was initially identified as a transcriptional activator through its methylation of histone 3 lysine 4, but its function as a methyltransferase on nonhistone substrates remains poorly understood, particularly in the context of PCa progression. In this study, we reveal that SETD7 primarily acts as a transcriptional repressor in CRPC cells by functioning as the major methyltransferase targeting FOXA1-K270. This methylation disrupts FOXA1-mediated transcription. Consistent with its molecular function, we found that SETD7 confers tumor suppressor activity in PCa cells. Moreover, loss of SETD7 expression is significantly associated with PCa progression and tumor aggressiveness. Overall, our study provides mechanistic insights into the tumor-suppressive and transcriptional repression activities of SETD7 in mediating PCa progression and therapy resistance.

Keywords: FOXA1; LSD1; SETD7; lysine methylation; prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha / genetics
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha / metabolism
  • Histone Demethylases / metabolism
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Histones* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Male
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism


  • Histones
  • Lysine
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Methyltransferases
  • Histone Demethylases
  • SETD7 protein, human
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • FOXA1 protein, human
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha