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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 3;286(22):19478-88. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.217331. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Thrombomodulin is silenced in malignant mesothelioma by a poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1-mediated epigenetic mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Biology, and Genetics, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.


Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is often complicated by thromboembolic episodes, with thrombomodulin (TM) playing a critical role in the anticoagulant process. Heterogeneous expression of TM has been observed in cancer, and low or no TM expression in cancer cells is associated with poor prognosis. In this study, we analyzed TM expression in biopsies of MM patients and compared them with normal mesothelial tissue. The role of DNA methylation-associated gene silencing in TM expression was investigated. To evaluate poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP1) as responsible for gene promoter epigenetic modifications, nonmalignant mesothelial cells (Met-5A) and MM cells (H28) were silenced for PARP1 and the DNA methylation/acetylation-associated TM expression evaluated. A correlation between low TM expression and high level of TM promoter methylation was found in MM biopsies. Low expression of TM was restored in MM cells by their treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and, to a lesser extent, with trichostatin, whereas the epigenetic agents did not affect TM expression in Met-5A cells. Silencing of PARP1 resulted in a strong down-regulation of TM expression in Met-5A cells, while restoring TM expression in H28 cells. PARP1 silencing induced TM promoter methylation in Met-5A cells and demethylation in MM cells, and this was paralleled by corresponding changes in the DNA methyltransferase activity. We propose that methylation of the TM promoter is responsible for silencing of TM expression in MM tissue, a process that is regulated by PARP1.

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