Lysine demethylase KDM3A regulates breast cancer cell invasion and apoptosis by targeting histone and the non-histone protein p53

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Invasive growth and apoptosis resistance of breast cancer cells are associated with metastasis and disease relapse. Here we identified that the lysine-specific demethylase KDM3A played a dual role in breast cancer cell invasion and apoptosis by demethylating histone and the non-histone protein p53, respectively. While inducing pro-invasive genes by erasing repressive histone H3 lysine 9 methylation, KDM3A promotes chemoresistance by demethylating p53. KDM3A suppressed pro-apoptotic functions of p53 by erasing p53-K372me1, as this methylation is crucial for the stability of chromatin-bound p53. Unexpectedly, depletion of KDM3A was capable of reactivating mutated p53 to induce the expression of pro-apoptotic genes in breast cancer with mutant p53. Moreover, KDM3A knockdown also potently inhibited tumorigenic potentials of breast cancer stem-like cells and rendered them sensitive to apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic drugs. Taken together, our results suggest that KDM3A might be a potential therapeutic target for human breast cancer treatment and prevention.

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This work was supported by the NIH grants R3713848 and DE15964 and the Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation. We thank Dr Yi Zhang for the generous gift of KDM3A plasmid.

Author contributions

SR and C-YW conceived ideas. All the authors designed experiments, SR and GG performed experiments. SR and C-YW wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to C-Y Wang.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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