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Lab Invest. 2000 Aug;80(8):1291-8.

Silencing of CD44 expression in prostate cancer by hypermethylation of the CD44 promoter region.

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Department of Experimental Urology, Josephine Nefkens Institute, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Loss of the CD44 transmembrane glycoprotein in primary prostate cancer has been shown to be associated with unfavorable clinical behavior. Moreover, the majority of prostate cancer metastases lack expression of this molecule. The mechanism of CD44 silencing in prostate cancer was investigated using both patient material and in vivo-propagated human prostate cancer xenografts. In 9 of 11 lymph node metastases of prostate cancer, we demonstrated by methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme digestion that the promoter region of the CD44 gene is methylated, indicating that this represents a major mechanism of CD44 silencing. Similarly, in 6 out of 12 in vivo-growing human prostate carcinoma xenograft models, hypermethylation of the CD44 gene was found. The extent of CpG island methylation was investigated by nucleotide sequencing after bisulphite modification of the CD44 promoter region. In the xenografts displaying hypermethylation, the examined 14 CpG sites in the CD44 transcription regulatory domain, including a Sp1 binding site, were consistently methylated. This correlated with reduced CD44 expression or lack of CD44 expression at mRNA and protein levels. In the xenografts lacking hypermethylation of the CD44 gene, high levels of CD44 mRNA and protein were expressed in some models, whereas in others CD44 mRNA expression was only detectable by RT-PCR and the CD44 protein could hardly be detected or was not detected at all. The results indicate that, in most prostate cancers, loss of CD44 expression is associated with extensive hypermethylation of the CpG island of the CD44 promoter region, but other, posttranscriptional mechanisms may also lead to CD44 loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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