MYCN drives oncogenesis by cooperating with the histone methyltransferase G9a and the WDR5 adaptor to orchestrate global gene transcription

PLoS Biol. 2024 Mar 28;22(3):e3002240. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002240. eCollection 2024 Mar.


MYCN activates canonical MYC targets involved in ribosome biogenesis, protein synthesis, and represses neuronal differentiation genes to drive oncogenesis in neuroblastoma (NB). How MYCN orchestrates global gene expression remains incompletely understood. Our study finds that MYCN binds promoters to up-regulate canonical MYC targets but binds to both enhancers and promoters to repress differentiation genes. MYCN binding also increases H3K4me3 and H3K27ac on canonical MYC target promoters and decreases H3K27ac on neuronal differentiation gene enhancers and promoters. WDR5 facilitates MYCN promoter binding to activate canonical MYC target genes, whereas MYCN recruits G9a to enhancers to repress neuronal differentiation genes. Targeting both MYCN's active and repressive transcriptional activities using both WDR5 and G9a inhibitors synergistically suppresses NB growth. We demonstrate that MYCN cooperates with WDR5 and G9a to orchestrate global gene transcription. The targeting of both these cofactors is a novel therapeutic strategy to indirectly target the oncogenic activity of MYCN.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic* / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Histone Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • N-Myc Proto-Oncogene Protein / genetics
  • N-Myc Proto-Oncogene Protein / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins* / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • N-Myc Proto-Oncogene Protein
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • MYCN protein, human
  • WDR5 protein, human
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins