Inhibiting Ehmt2 and Ezh2 histone methyltransferases alters the immune microenvironment in a Trp53-/- murine ovarian cancer model


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Pavlina Spiliopoulou1,Sarah Spear2,Patricia Roxburgh3,Susanne Dowson4,Susan Mason4,Karen Blyth4,Matthew Fuchter2,Bob Brown2,Iain A McNeish2
1Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow, UK,2Imperial College London, London, UK,3Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre,4University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK



Ovarian cancer prognosis is strongly dependent on the development of an anti-tumour immune response. However, tumours can epigenetically silence immunostimulatory genes in order to evade this response. We investigated whether a novel dual inhibitor of Ehmt2/Ezh2 methyltransferases (HKMT) was able to derepress expression of critical chemokines and augment immune responses in a murine ovarian cancer model.


ID8 Trp53-/- murine ovarian cancer cell line was previously generated, using CRISPR-Cas9 technique. Mice bearing intraperitoneal Trp53-/-tumours were treated with the novel Ehmt2/Ezh2 inhibitor, HKMTI-1-005, for 14 days (21-35d). Tumours were harvested for immune cell phenotyping by flow cytometry. HKMT1-1-005 was screened in vitrofor its ability to enhance expression of 84-chemokine genes in ID8   Trp53-/- ovarian cancer cells.


In vitro,HKMTI-1-005 treatment significantly (p<0.05) upregulated the expression of cxcl10 (3-fold), cxcl9 (22-fold) and ccl5 (14-fold), after stimulation with IFNγ. Mice treated with HKMTI-1-005 had longer survival (52 vs45d,p<.0001), less ascites (3.7 vs5.6ml,p=.0037) and trended towards tumour size reduction (weight 138 vs178mg,p=.10) compared to vehicle treatment. Tumours harvested 24hr post last HKMTI-1-005 dose had significantly more effector CD8+T cells (p=.03), natural killer (NK) cells (p<.0001) and dendritic cells (DCs, p=.02), and less naïve CD8+T cells (p=.02) and immunosuppressive CD4+Tregs (p=.02). Expression of the Cxcl9/Cxcl10 receptor Cxcr3 was increased in HKMTI-1-005-treated cohort tumours on CD8+[mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) 3959 vs2097, p<.0001], CD4+(MFI 2341 vs1099, p<.0001)and NK (MFI 1507 vs440, p<.0001) cells.


Inhibition of Ehmt2/Ezh2 HKMTs stimulates expression of chemokines involved in T cell, NK and DC recruitment. In vivo, HKMTI-1-005 alters the immune microenvironment and confers a small survival benefit. This suggests that HKMTI-1-005 could augment the anti-tumour immune response of current immunotherapies.