ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2/neu/ERBB2) is overexpressed in several cancer types. Although therapies targeting the HER2/neu protein result in inhibition of cell proliferation, the anticancer effect might be further optimized by limiting HER2/neu expression at the DNA level. Towards this aim, epigenetic editing was performed to suppress HER2/neu expression by inducing epigenetic silencing marks on the HER2/neu promoter.HER2/neu expression and HER2/neu promoter epigenetic modification status were determined in a panel of ovarian and breast cancer cell lines. HER2/neu-overexpressing cancer cells were transduced to express a zinc finger protein (ZFP), targeting the HER2/neugene, fused to histone methyltransferases (G9a, SUV39-H1)/super KRAB domain (SKD). Epigenetic assessment of the HER2/neu promoter showed that HER2/neu-ZFP fused to G9a efficiently induced the intended silencing histone methylation mark (H3K9me2). Importantly, H3K9me2 induction was associated with a dramatic downregulation of HER2/neu expression in HER2/neu- overexpressing cells. Downregulation by SKD, traditionally considered transient in nature, was associated with removal of the histone acetylation mark (H3ac). The downregulation of HER2/neu by induced H3K9 methylation and/or reduced H3 acetylation was sufficient to effectively inhibit cellular metabolic activity and clonogenicity. Furthermore, genome-wide analysis indicated preferential binding of the ZFP to its target sequence. These results not only show that H3K9 methylation can be induced but also that this epigenetic mark was instructive in promoting downregulation of HER2/neu expression.Implications: Epigenetic editing provides a novel (synergistic) approach to modulate expression of oncogenes. Mol Cancer Res; 11(9); 1029–39. ©2013 AACR.