EZH2 inhibition re-sensitizes multidrug resistant B-cell lymphomas to etoposide mediated apoptosis

Matthew Smonskey1, Elena Lasorsa1, Spencer Rosario1,3, Jason S Kirk1, Francisco J Hernandez-Ilizaliturri2, Leigh Ellis1,3

1 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA

3 Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Cancer Therapeutics, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY, USA


Leigh Ellis, email:

Keywords: lymphoma, EZH2, etoposide, therapy, epigenetics

Received: December 10, 2015 Accepted: January 22, 2016 Published: January 29, 2016


Reactivation of apoptotic pathways is an attractive strategy for patients with treatment-resistant B-cell lymphoma. The tumor suppressor, p53 is central for apoptotic response to multiple DNA damaging agents used to treat aggressive B-cell lymphomas, including etoposide. It has been demonstrated that etoposide induced DNA damage and therapeutic efficacy is enhanced by combination with inhibitors of the histone methyltransferase, enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2). Further, EZH2 was identified to regulate cell fate decisions in response to DNA damage. Using B-cell lymphoma cell lines resistant to etoposide induced cell death; we show that p53 is dramatically down regulated and MDMX, a negative regulator of p53, is significantly up regulated. However, these cell lines remain responsive to etoposide mediated DNA damage and exhibit cell cycle inhibition and induction of senescence. Furthermore, chemical inhibition of EZH2 directs DNA damage to a predominant p53 dependent apoptotic response associated with loss of MDMX and BCL-XL. These data provide confirmation of EZH2 in determining cell fate following DNA damage and propose a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with aggressive treatment-resistant B-cell lymphoma.

PII: 288