Silencing the epigenetic silencer KDM4A for TRAIL and DR5 simultaneous induction and antitumor therapy

Junjian Wang, Haibin Wang, Ling Yu Wang, Demin Cai, Zhijian Duan, Yanhong Zhang, Peng Chen, June X. Zou, Jianzhen Xu, Xinbin Chen, Hsing Jien Kung, Hong Wu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Recombinant TRAIL and agonistic antibodies to death receptors (DRs) have been in clinical trial but displayed limited anti-cancer efficacy. Lack of functional DR expression in tumors is a major limiting factor. We report here that chromatin regulator KDM4A/JMJD2A, not KDM4B, has a pivotal role in silencing tumor cell expression of both TRAIL and its receptor DR5. In TRAIL-sensitive and -resistant cancer cells of lung, breast and prostate, KDM4A small-molecule inhibitor compound-4 (C-4) or gene silencing strongly induces TRAIL and DR5 expression, and causes TRAIL-dependent apoptotic cell death. KDM4A inhibition also strongly sensitizes cells to TRAIL. C-4 alone potently inhibits tumor growth with marked induction of TRAIL and DR5 expression in the treated tumors and effectively sensitizes them to the newly developed TRAIL-inducer ONC201. Mechanistically, C-4 does not appear to act through the Akt-ERK-FOXO3a pathway. Instead, it switches histone modifying enzyme complexes at promoters of TRAIL and DR5 transcriptional activator CHOP gene by dissociating KDM4A and nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR)-HDAC complex and inducing the recruitment of histone acetylase CBP. Thus, our results reveal KDM4A as a key epigenetic silencer of TRAIL and DR5 in tumors and establish inhibitors of KDM4A as a novel strategy for effectively sensitizing tumors to TRAIL pathway-based therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1896
Number of pages11
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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