Small Molecule Approaches for Targeting the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) in Cancer

M. Cynthia Martin, Guihua Zeng, Jindan Yu, Gary E. Schiltz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is composed of three core subunits, enhancer of zeste 2 (EZH2), embryonic ectoderm development (EED), and suppressor of zeste 12 (SUZ12), along with a number of accessory proteins. It is the key enzymatic protein complex that catalyzes histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27) methylation to mediate epigenetic silencing of target genes. PRC2 thus plays essential roles in maintaining embryonic stem cell identity and in controlling cellular differentiation. Studies in the past decade have reported frequent overexpression or mutation of PRC2 in various cancers including prostate cancer and lymphoma. Aberrant PRC2 function has been extensively studied and proven to contribute to a large number of abnormal cellular processes, including those that lead to uncontrolled proliferation and tumorigenesis. Significant efforts have recently been made to develop small molecules targeting PRC2 function for potential use as anticancer therapeutics. In this review, we describe recent approaches to identify and develop small molecules that target PRC2. These various strategies include the inhibition of the function of individual PRC2 core proteins, the disruption of PRC2 complex formation, and the degradation of its subunits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15344-15370
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 24 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery

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