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Role of promoter methylation in increased methionine adenosyltransferase 2A expression in human liver cancer.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, USC Liver Disease Research Center, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT), an essential enzyme that catalyzes the formation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), is encoded by two genes, MAT1A (liver-specific) and MAT2A (non-liver-specific). We showed a switch from MAT1A to MAT2A expression in human liver cancer, which facilitates cancer cell growth. The present work examined the role of methylation in MAT2A transcriptional regulation. We found that the human MAT2A promoter is hypomethylated in hepatocellular carcinoma, in which the gene is upregulated transcriptionally, but hypermethylated in normal liver, in which the gene is minimally expressed. Luciferase activities driven by in vitro methylated MAT2A promoter constructs were 75-95% lower than activities driven by unmethylated constructs. SAM treatment of Hep G2 cells reduced MAT2A endogenous expression by 75%, hypermethylated the MAT2A promoter, and reduced luciferase activities driven by MAT2A promoter constructs by 65-75% while not affecting MAT1A's promoter activity. Treatment of adult rat and human hepatocytes with trichostatin A, an inhibitor of histone deacetylase, upregulated MAT2A expression by more than fourfold. Collectively, these results suggest that MAT2A expression is regulated by promoter methylation and histone acetylation.

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