Naturally occurring anti-cancer agents targeting EZH2

Fahimeh Shahabipour, Michele Caraglia, Muhammed Majeed, Giuseppe Derosa, Pamela Maffioli, Amirhossein Sahebkar

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Natural products are considered as promising tools for the prevention and treatment of cancer. The enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is a histone methyltransferase unit of polycomb repressor complexes such as PRC2 complex that has oncogenic roles through interference with growth and metastatic potential. Several agents targeting EZH2 has been discovered but they often induce side effects in clinical trials. Recently, EZH2 has emerged as a potential target of natural products with documented anti-cancer effects and this discloses a new scenario for the development of EZH2 inhibitory strategies with agents with low cytotoxic detrimental effects. In fact, several natural products such as curcumin, triptolide, ursolic acid, sulforaphane, davidiin, tanshindiols, gambogic acid, berberine and Alcea rosea have been shown to serve as EZH2 modulators. Mechanisms like inhibition of histone H3K4, H3K27 and H3K36 trimethylation, down-regulation of matrix metalloproteinase expression, competitive binding to the S-adenosylmethionine binding site of EZH2 and modulation of tumor-suppressive microRNAs have been demonstrated to mediate the EZH2-inhibitory activity of the mentioned natural products. This review summarizes the pathways that are regulated by various natural products resulting in the suppression of EZH2, and provides a plausible molecular mechanism for the putative anti-cancer effects of these compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-335
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Letters
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Cancer
  • Chemosensitization
  • EZH2
  • Natural compounds
  • Polycomb proteins
  • PRC2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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