Histone demethylase UTX/KDM6A enhances tumor immune cell recruitment, promotes differentiation and suppresses medulloblastoma

Jiaqing Yi, Xuanming Shi, Zhenyu Xuan, Jiang Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The deregulation of epigenetic pathways has been implicated as a critical step in tumorigenesis including in childhood brain tumor medulloblastoma. The H3K27me3 demethylase UTX/KDM6A plays important roles in development and is frequently mutated in various types of cancer. However, how UTX regulates tumor development remains largely unclear. Here, we report the generation of a UTX-deleted mouse model of SHH medulloblastoma that demonstrates the tumor suppressor functions of UTX, which could be antagonized by the deletion of another H3K27me3 demethylase JMJD3/KDM6B. Intriguingly, UTX deletion in cancerous cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs) resulted in the impaired recruitment of host CD8+ T cells to the tumor microenvironment through a non-cell autonomous mechanism. In both mouse medulloblastoma models and in human medulloblastoma cells, we showed that UTX activates Th1-type chemokines, which are responsible for T cell migration. Surprisingly, our results showed that the depletion of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells did not affect mouse medulloblastoma growth. Nevertheless, the UTX/chemokine/T cell recruitment pathway we identified may be applied to many other cancers and may be important for improving cancer immunotherapy. In addition, UTX is required for the expression of NeuroD2 in precancerous progenitors, which encodes a potent proneural transcription factor. Overexpression of NEUROD2 in CGNPs decreased cell proliferation and increased neuron differentiation. We showed that UTX deletion led to impaired neural differentiation, which could coordinate with active SHH signaling to accelerate medulloblastoma development. Thus, UTX regulates both cell-intrinsic oncogenic processes and the tumor microenvironment in medulloblastoma. Our study provides insights into both medulloblastoma development and context dependent functions of UTX in tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-200
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Letters
StatePublished - Feb 28 2021


  • Neuronal differentiation
  • SHH medulloblastoma
  • T cell migration
  • Th1-type chemokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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