NAA40 contributes to colorectal cancer growth by controlling PRMT5 expression
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N-alpha-acetyltransferase 40 (NAA40) catalyzes the transfer of an acetyl moiety to the alpha-amino group of serine 1 (S1) on histones H4 and H2A. Our previous studies linked NAA40 and its corresponding N-terminal acetylation of histone H4 (N-acH4) to colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the role of NAA40 in CRC development was not investigated. Here, we show that NAA40 protein and mRNA levels are commonly increased in CRC primary tissues compared to non-malignant specimens. Importantly, depletion of NAA40 inhibits cell proliferation and survival of CRC cell lines and increases their sensitivity to 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment. Moreover, the absence of NAA40 significantly delays the growth of human CRC xenograft tumors. Intriguingly, we found that NAA40 knockdown and loss of N-acH4 reduce the levels of symmetric dimethylation of histone H4 (H4R3me2s) through transcriptional downregulation of protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5). NAA40 depletion and subsequent repression of PRMT5 results in altered expression of key oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes leading to inhibition of CRC cell growth. Consistent with this, NAA40 mRNA levels correlate with those of PRMT5 in CRC patient tissues. Taken together, our results establish the oncogenic function of the epigenetic enzyme NAA40 in colon cancer and support its potential as a therapeutic target.