Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a highly aggressive tumor that has a low overall survival; however, no significant treatment advances have been made in the past 15 years. Large-scale molecular studies have identified a poor prognostic subset of MPM linked to the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) that may contribute toward resistance to chemotherapy, suggesting that EMT could be targeted to treat patients with MPM. Previously, we reported that histone modifiers regulating EMT could be therapeutic targets; therefore, in this study, we investigated whether targeting lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1/KDM1), a histone-modifying enzyme responsible for demethylating histone H3 lysine 4 and lysine 9, could represent a novel therapeutic strategy for MPM. We suppressed LSD1 and investigated the EMT phenotype using EMT marker expression and wound-healing assay; and chemosensitivity using apoptosis assay. We found that suppressing LSD1 induces an epithelial phenotype in sarcomatoid MPM cells, while attenuating the mesenchymal phenotype sensitized MPM cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis. Subsequent genome-wide identification, comprehensive microarray analysis, and Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq) to assess genome-wide changes in chromatin accessibility suggested that LSD1 directly regulates milk fat globulin protein E8 (MFGE8), an integrin ligand that is involved in the FAK pathway. Furthermore, we found that LSD1 regulates the mesenchymal phenotype and apoptosis by activating the FAK–AKT–GSK3β pathway via a positive feedback loop involving MFGE8 and Snail expression, thereby leading to cisplatin resistance.
This study suggests that LSD1 regulates the mesenchymal phenotype and apoptosis, and that LSD1 inhibitors could be combined with the cisplatin as a novel therapy for patients with MPM.