Polycomb group protein enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is a methyltransferase that correlates with the regulation of invasion and metastasis and is overexpressed in human cancers such as colorectal cancer. MicroRNA-31 (miR-31) plays an oncogenic role and is associated with BRAF mutation and poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. EZH2 is functionally considered to suppress miR-31 expression in human cancers; however, no study has reported its relationship with colon cancer. We therefore evaluated EZH2 expression using immunohistochemistry and assessed miR-31 and epigenetic alterations using 301 colorectal carcinomas and 207 premalignant lesions. Functional analysis was performed to identify the association between EZH2 and miR-31 using cancer cell lines. In the current study, negative, weak, moderate, and strong EZH2 expressions were observed in 15%, 19%, 25%, and 41% of colorectal cancers, respectively. EZH2 was inversely associated with miR-31 (P < 0.0001), independent of clinicopathological and molecular features. In a multivariate stage-stratified analysis, high EZH2 expression was related to favorable prognosis (P = 0.0022). Regarding premalignant lesions, negative EZH2 expression was frequently detected in sessile serrated adenomas/polyps (SSA/Ps) (76%; P < 0.0001) compared with hyperplastic polyps, traditional serrated adenomas, and non-serrated adenomas (25-36%). Functional analysis demonstrated that the knockdown of EZH2 increased miR-31 expression. In conclusion, an inverse association was identified between EZH2 and miR-31 in colorectal cancers. Our data also showed that upregulation of EZH2 expression may be rare in SSA/Ps. These results suggest that EZH2 suppresses miR-31 in colorectal cancer and may correlate with differentiation and evolution of serrated pathway.
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