Beijing Commission of Education
Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission
National Nature Science Foundation of China
ARTICLE ABSTRACTMedulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Although accumulated research has suggested that cancer stem-like cells play a key role in medulloblastoma tumorigenesis, the specific molecular mechanism regarding proliferation remains elusive. Here, we reported more abundant expression of maternal embryonic leucine-zipper kinase (MELK) and enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) in medulloblastoma stem-like cells than in neural stem cells and the interaction between the two proteins could mediate the self-renewal of sonic hedgehog subtype medulloblastoma. In human medulloblastoma, extensive nodularity and large-cell/anaplastic subgroups differed according to the staining levels of MELK and EZH2 from the other two subgroups. The proportion of MELK- or EZH2-positive staining status could be considered as a potential indicator for survival. Mechanistically, MELK bound to and phosphorylated EZH2, and its methylation was induced by EZH2 in medulloblastoma, which could regulate the proliferation of cancer stem-like cells. In xenografts, loss of MELK or EZH2 attenuated medulloblastoma stem-like cell-derived tumor growth and promoted differentiation. These findings indicate that MELK-induced phosphorylation and EZH2-mediated methylation in MELK/EZH2 pathway are essential for medulloblastoma stem-like cell-derived tumor proliferation, thereby identifying a potential therapeutic strategy for these patients.Implications: This study demonstrates that the interaction occurring between MELK and EZH2 promotes self-proliferation and stemness, thus representing an attractive therapeutic target and potential candidate for diagnosis of medulloblastoma. Mol Cancer Res; 15(9); 1275–86. ©2017 AACR.