LSD1 & Cancer

Lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1, also known as KDM1A) is a histone modifying enzyme that removes methyl groups, is therefore an “eraser”, and by doing that regulates the expression of many genes important in cancer progression and cell proliferation.

Aberrant expression of LSD1 has been shown in many types of cancers. In particular, LSD1 expression is upregulated in bladder, small cell lung, and colorectal clinical cancer tissues when compared with the corresponding nonneoplastic tissues. LSD1 has also been shown to be overexpressed in some breast cancers and may function as a biomarker of the aggressiveness of the disease.

However, where the function of LSD1 is better understood is in acute leukemia. Particularly, in a subset of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia, LSD1 is crucial for the function and maintenance of the leukemic stem cells, a subset of malignant cells that is believed to be the ultimate reason for relapse in those patients. LSD1 inhibition might be a therapeutic solution to avoid those relapses.