Mucins are highly glycosylated proteins that play important roles in carcinogenesis. In pancreatic neoplasia, MUC2 mucin has been demonstrated as a tumor suppressor and we have reported that MUC2 is a favorable prognostic factor. Regulation of MUC2 gene expression is known to be controlled by DNA methylation, but the role of histone modification for MUC2 gene expression has yet to be clarified. Herein, we provide the first report that the histone H3 modification of the MUC2 promoter region regulates MUC2 gene expression. To investigate the histone modification and DNA methylation of the promoter region of the MUC2 gene, we treated 2 human pancreatic cancer cell lines, PANC1 (MUC2-negative) and BxPC3 (MUC2-positive) with the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-azacytidine (5-aza), the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA), and a combination of these agents. The DNA methylation level of PANC1 cells was decreased by all 3 treatments, whereas histone H3-K4/K9 methylation and H3-K9/K27 acetylation in PANC1 cells was changed to the level in BxPC3 cells by treatment with TSA alone and with the 5-aza/TSA combination. The expression level of MUC2 mRNA in PANC1 cells exhibited a definite increase when treated with TSA and 5-aza/TSA, whereas 5-aza alone induced only a slight increase. Our results suggest that histone H3 modification in the 5′ flanking region play an important role in MUC2 gene expression, possibly affecting DNA methylation. An understanding of these intimately correlated epigenetic changes may be of importance for predicting the outcome of patients with pancreatic neoplasms. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.