Tumor Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 205–212 | Cite as

A potential antitumor ellagitannin, davidiin, inhibited hepatocellular tumor growth by targeting EZH2

  • Yan Wang
  • Jingyi Ma
  • Sheung Ching Chow
  • Chi Han Li
  • Zhangang Xiao
  • Ru Feng
  • Jie Fu
  • Yangchao Chen
Research Article


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Currently available treatment options for HCC patients are scarce resulting in an urgent need to develop a novel effective cure. Polygonum capitatum is a medicinal herb which has been used to treat inflammatory diseases in Miao nationality of China. We recently isolated a pure compound davidiin from P. capitatum extract. Four HCC cell lines were treated with davidiin. Cell viability was recorded by MTT assay. siRNAs targeting enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) were applied to modulate the expression of EZH2. Established xenograft mice models of HCC were applied to evaluate the in vivo anticancer activity of davidiin. We investigated the anticancer activity and the underlying mechanism of davidiin. The compound inhibited HCC cell growth and also suppressed tumor growth in xenografted HCC mouse. Such inhibition was facilitated by specifically downregulation on EZH2. The compound possesses anticancer activity both in vitro and in vivo which warrants further clinical investigation as a potential anti-HCC agent.


Hepatocellular carcinoma Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 Traditional Chinese medicine Anticancer drug 



B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 homolog


Chromobox protein homologue




Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Embryonic ectoderm development


Enhancer of zeste homolog 2


Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Hepatocellular carcinoma


Horseradish peroxidase


Histone H3 trimethylated on lysine 27


N-(benzyloxycarbonyl)leucinylleucinylleucinal Z-Leu-Leu-Leu-al


3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide


Poly ADP ribose polymerase

PcG protein

Polycomb group protein


Polymerase chain reaction




propidium iodide


Polycomb repressor complex


Polyvinylidene difluoride


Retinoblastoma-binding protein p48




Suppressor of zeste 12


Traditional Chinese medicine


Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling



This work was supported by grants from the Research Grants Council General Research Fund of Hong Kong [CUHK462109 and CUHK462211], National Natural Science Foundation of China [81101888], Shenzhen Basic Research Program [JC201105201092A], Direct Grant from CUHK to YC, NSFC grant [81072611], National Science and Technology Special Projects [2012ZX09301002-006], and the Special Fund of Chinese Central Government for Basic Scientific Research Operations [2012CHX08] to YW.

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

13277_2013_1025_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (351 kb)
Open Resource Statistical analysis of western blots shown in Figs. 1e and 2a, c. (a) Reduced caspase 3 level and increase in both PARP and caspase 3 cleavages were detected in both Hep3B and Bel7404 cells treated with davidiin. (b) Reduced the levels of EZH2, H3K27me3, and cyclin D1 were observed when Hep3B and Bel7404 were treated with davidiin. (c) Davidiin-induced EZH2 reduction was reversed by MG132, when davidiin-treated HCC cells were co-treated with a proteasome inhibitor, MG132. Transcript levels between groups were considered as significantly different when p < 0.05 (*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01 vs. control, n = 3) (PDF 351 kb)


  1. 1.
    Parkin DM. Global cancer statistics in the year 2000. Lancet Oncol. 2001;2:533–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    He J, Gu D, Wu X, Reynolds K, Duan X, Yao C, et al. Major causes of death among men and women in China. N Engl J Med. 2005;353:1124–34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cao H, Phan H, Yang LX. Improved chemotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma. Anticancer Res. 2012;32:1379–86.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lam W, Bussom S, Guan F, Jiang Z, Zhang W, Gullen EA, et al. The four-herb Chinese medicine PHY906 reduces chemotherapy-induced gastrointestinal toxicity. Sci Transl Med. 2010;2:45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Song LR, Ding XL, Zang ZY, Hong X. Dictionary of modern TCD. 1st ed. Beijing: People’s Medical Publishing House; 2001. p. 580–1.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Orlando V. Polycomb, epigenomes, and control of cell identity. Cell. 2003;112:599–606.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Caldas C, Aparicio S. Cell memory and cancer—the story of the trithorax and Polycomb group genes. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 1999;18:313–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    LaTulippe E, Satagopan J, Smith A, Scher H, Scardino P, Reuter V, et al. Comprehensive gene expression analysis of prostate cancer reveals distinct transcriptional programs associated with metastatic disease. Cancer Res. 2002;62:4499–506.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Varambally S, Dhanasekaran SM, Zhou M, Barrette TR, Kumar-Sinha C, Sanda MG, et al. The polycomb group protein EZH2 is involved in progression of prostate cancer. Nature. 2002;419:624–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Dimri GP, Martinez JL, Jacobs JJ, Keblusek P, Itahana K, Van Lohuizen M, et al. The Bmi-1 oncogene induces telomerase activity and immortalizes human mammary epithelial cells. Cancer Res. 2002;62:4736–45.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Simon JA, Kingston RE. Mechanisms of Polycomb gene silencing: knowns and unknowns. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2009;10:697–708.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kuzmichev A, Nishioka K, Erdjument-Bromage H, Tempst P, Reinberg D. Histone methyltransferase activity associated with a human multiprotein complex containing the enhancer of zeste protein. Genes Dev. 2002;16:2893–905.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cao R, Wang L, Wang H, Xia L, Erdjument-Bromage H, Tempst P, et al. Role of histone H3 lysine 27 methylation in polycomb-group silencing. Science. 2002;298:1039–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Zeidler M, Kleer CG. The Polycomb group protein enhancer of zeste 2: its links to DNA repair and breast cancer. J Mol Histol. 2006;37:219–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sudo T, Utsunomiya T, Mimori K, Nagahara H, Ogawa K, Inoue H, et al. Clinicopathological significance of EZH2 mRNA expression in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Br J Cancer. 2005;92:1754–8.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Steele JC, Torr EE, Noakes KL, Kalk E, Moss PA, Reynolds GM, et al. The polycomb group proteins, BMI-1 and EZH2, are tumour-associated antigens. Br J Cancer. 2006;95:1202–11.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chen Y, Lin MC, Wang H, Chan CY, Jiang L, Ngai SM, et al. Proteomic analysis of EZH2 downstream target proteins in hepatocellular carcinoma. Proteomics. 2007;7:3097–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Balasubramanian S, Chew YC, Eckert RL. Sulforaphane suppresses polycomb group protein level via a proteasome-dependent mechanism in skin cancer cells. Mol Pharmacol. 2011;80:870–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Choudhury SR, Balasubramanian S, Chew YC, Han B, Marquez VE, Eckert RL. (−)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate and DZNep reduce polycomb protein level via a proteasome-dependent mechanism in skin cancer cells. Carcinogenesis. 2011;32:1525–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fu J, Ma JY, Zhang XF, Wang Y, Feng R, Chen YC, et al. Identification of metabolites of davidiin, a potential antitumor ellagitannin, transformed by rat intestinal bacteria in vitro, based on liquid chromatography–ion trap–time of flight mass spectrometry analysis. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2012;71:162–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pfaffl MW. A new mathematical model for relative quantification in real-time RT-PCR. Nucleic Acids Res. 2001;29:45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Han YH, Moon HJ, You BR, Park WH. The effect of MG132, a proteasome inhibitor on HeLa cells in relation to cell growth, reactive oxygen species and GSH. Oncol Rep. 2009;22:215–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Liao SG, Zhang LJ, Sun F, Zhang JJ, Chen AY, Lan YY, et al. Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of extracts and fractions from Polygonum capitatum. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;134:1006–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kleer CG, Cao Q, Varambally S, Shen R, Ota I, Tomlins SA, et al. EZH2 is a marker of aggressive breast cancer and promotes neoplastic transformation of breast epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2003;100:11606–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lee K, Adhikary G, Balasubramanian S, Gopalakrishnan R, McCormick T, Dimri GP, et al. Expression of Bmi-1 in epidermis enhances cell survival by altering cell cycle regulatory protein expression and inhibiting apoptosis. J Invest Dermatol. 2008;128:9–17.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Tan J, Yang X, Zhuang L, Jiang X, Chen W, Lee PL. Pharmacologic disruption of polycomb-repressive complex 2-mediated gene repression selectively induces apoptosis in cancer cells. Genes Dev. 2007;21:1050–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan Wang
    • 1
  • Jingyi Ma
    • 1
  • Sheung Ching Chow
    • 2
  • Chi Han Li
    • 2
  • Zhangang Xiao
    • 2
  • Ru Feng
    • 1
  • Jie Fu
    • 1
  • Yangchao Chen
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Bioactive Substances and Functions of Natural Medicines, Institute of Materia MedicaChinese Academy of Medical SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of MedicineThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Shenzhen Research InstituteThe Chinese University of Hong KongShenzhenChina

Personalised recommendations