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Cancer Biol Ther. 2007 Nov;6(11):1733-42. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Regulation of the CLDN3 gene in ovarian cancer cells.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The claudin (CLDN) genes encode a family of proteins involved in the formation and function of tight junctions. CLDN gene expression is frequently altered in several human cancers, and in particular, CLDN3 and CLDN4 are commonly overexpressed in ovarian cancer. However, the mechanisms leading to the deregulation of these genes in cancer remain unclear. In the present study, we have examined the CLDN3 promoter and have identified a minimal region containing an Sp1 site crucial for its activity. In addition, we find that the CLDN3 promoter is regulated through epigenetic processes. Cells that express high levels of CLDN3 exhibit low DNA methylation and high histone H3 acetylation of the critical CLDN3 promoter region, and the reverse is observed in cells that do not express this gene. CLDN3-negative cells can be induced to express CLDN3 through treatment with DNA methyltransferase or histone deacetylase inhibitors. Interestingly, in vitro binding experiments, as well as chip assays show that Sp1 binds the unmethylated promoter much more efficiently, providing a mechanism for CLDN3 silencing in non-expressing cells. Finally, siRNA-mediated knockdown of Sp1 led to a significant decrease of CLDN3 expression at both the mRNA and protein levels, demonstrating a crucial role for this transcription factor in the regulation of CLDN3. Our data provide a basis for CLDN3 expression in ovarian cancer cells, as well as a mechanism for the silencing of this promoter in tumors lacking expression of claudin-3.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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