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Oncogene. 2006 Nov 2;25(52):6975-85. Epub 2006 May 22.

Epigenetic regulation of X-linked cancer/germline antigen genes by DNMT1 and DNMT3b.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Cancer Drug Center, Buffalo, New York, NY 14263, USA.


We examined the function of two key DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) enzymes in epigenetic regulation of X-linked cancer/germline (CG-X) antigen genes in human cancer cells, using MAGE-A1, NY-ESO-1, and XAGE-1 as models. In HCT116 cells, genetic knockout of DNMT1 caused moderate activation of CG-X genes, DNMT3b knockout had a negligible effect, and double knockout of both enzymes caused robust gene induction. Similarly, dual DNMT knockout caused dramatic hypomethylation of the MAGE-A1 and NY-ESO-1 promoters, DNMT1 knockout showed moderate hypomethylation, and DNMT3b knockout elicited only slight methylation changes. In contrast, both single and double knockout cells showed significant hypomethylation of the XAGE-1 promoter. RNA interference (RNAi) targeting of DNMT1 in HCT116 cells validated the results seen using genetic knockout cells; however, RNAi targeting of DNMT1 in a different colorectal cancer cell line revealed a greater independent role for DNMT1 in mediating CG-X gene repression and promoter methylation in other cell types. Notably, the histone H3 modification pattern at CG-X promoters was altered following DNMT knockout. DNMT1 or DNMT3b knockout reduced dimethylated lysine-9 (diMe-H3K9) levels, but did not significantly affect dimethylated lysine-4 (diMe-H3K4) or acetylated lysine-9 (Ac-H3-K9) levels. In contrast, dual DNMT1/3b knockout reduced the level of diMe-H3K9 and dramatically increased the levels of diMe-H3K4 and Ac-H3K9 at CG-X gene loci. In summary, DNMT1 and DNMT3b were found to perform both redundant and independent functions in epigenetic regulation of CG-X antigen genes in human cancer cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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