Multiple pharmacological inhibitors targeting the epigenetic suppressor enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (Ezh2) accelerate osteoblast differentiation

M. Lizeth Galvan, Christopher R. Paradise, Eva Kubrova, Sofia Jerez, Farzaneh Khani, Roman Thaler, Amel Dudakovic, Andre J van Wijnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Skeletal development and bone formation are regulated by epigenetic mechanisms that either repress or enhance osteogenic commitment of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells and osteoblasts. The transcriptional suppressive trimethylation of histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) hinders differentiation of pre-committed osteoblasts. Osteoblast maturation can be stimulated by genetic loss of the H3K27 methyltransferase Ezh2 which can also be mimicked pharmacologically using the classical Ezh2 inhibitor GSK126. Identification of other Ezh2 inhibitors (iEzh2) that enhance osteogenic potential would increase chemical options for developing new bone stimulatory compounds. In this study, we examined a panel of iEzh2s and show that all eight inhibitors we tested are capable of accelerating osteoblast differentiation to different degrees at concentrations that are well below cytotoxic concentrations. Inhibition of Ezh2 is commensurate with loss of cellular H3K27me3 levels while forced expression of Ezh2 reverses the effect of Ezh2 suppression. Reduced Ezh2 function by siRNA depletion of Ezh2 mRNA and protein levels also stimulates osteoblastogenesis, consistent with the specificity of iEzh2 to target the active site of Ezh2. Diminished Ezh2 levels preempt the effects of iEzh2s on H3K27me3. GSK126, EPZ-6438 and siRNA depletion of Ezh2 each are effective in reducing H3K27me3 levels. However, EPZ-6438 is more potent than GSK126 in stimulating osteoblastogenesis, as reflected by increased extracellular matrix mineralization. Collectively, our data indicate that Ezh2 inhibitors properly target Ezh2 consistent with their biochemical affinities. The range of compounds capable of promoting osteogenesis presented in this study offers the opportunity to develop diverse bone anabolic strategies for distinct clinical scenarios, including spine fusion, non-union of bone and dental implant enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115993
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Bone
  • Chromatin
  • Differentiation
  • Ezh2
  • Histone
  • Inhibitor
  • Methylation
  • Nucleosome
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteogenesis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Polycomb
  • Skeletal development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple pharmacological inhibitors targeting the epigenetic suppressor enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (Ezh2) accelerate osteoblast differentiation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this