Histone demethylase upregulation has been observed in human cancers, yet it is unknown whether this is a bystander event or a driver of tumorigenesis. We found that overexpression of lysine-specific demethylase 4A (KDM4A, also known as JMJD2A) was positively correlated with Gleason score and metastasis in human prostate tumors. Overexpression of JMJD2A resulted in the development of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia in mice, demonstrating that JMJD2A can initiate prostate cancer development. Moreover, combined overexpression of JMJD2A and the ETS transcription factor ETV1, a JMJD2A-binding protein, resulted in prostate carcinoma formation in mice haplodeficient for the phosphatase and tensin homolog (Pten) tumor-suppressor gene. Additionally, JMJD2A cooperated with ETV1 to increase expression of yes associated protein 1 (YAP1), a Hippo pathway component that itself was associated with prostate tumor aggressiveness. ETV1 facilitated the recruitment of JMJD2A to the YAP1 promoter, leading to changes in histone lysine methylation in a human prostate cancer cell line. Further, YAP1 expression largely rescued the growth inhibitory effects of JMJD2A depletion in prostate cancer cells, indicating that YAP1 is a downstream effector of JMJD2A. Taken together, these data reveal a JMJD2A/ETV1/YAP1 axis that promotes prostate cancer initiation and that may be a suitable target for therapeutic inhibition.
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