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Oncogene. 2008 Jul 10;27(30):4200-9. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.58. Epub 2008 Mar 17.

Human mismatch repair gene, MLH1, is transcriptionally repressed by the hypoxia-inducible transcription factors, DEC1 and DEC2.

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Department of Translational Cancer Research, Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.


Tumor hypoxia has been reported to cause a functional loss in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system as a result of downregulation of MMR genes, although the precise molecular mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we focused on the downregulation of a key MMR gene, MLH1, and demonstrated that hypoxia-inducible transcription repressors, differentiated embryo chondrocytes (DEC1 and 2), participated in its transcriptional regulation via their bindings to E-box-like motif(s) in MLH1 promoter region. In all cancer cell lines examined, hypoxia increased expression of DEC1 and 2, known as hypoxia-inducible genes, but decreased MLH1 expression in an exposure time-dependent manner at both the mRNA and protein levels. Co-transfection reporter assay revealed that DEC1 and, to greater extent, DEC2 as well as hypoxia-repressed MLH1 promoter activity. We further found that the action was remarkably inhibited by trichostatin A, and identified a possible DEC-response element in the MLH1 promoter. In vitro electrophoretic gel mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that DEC1 or 2 directly bounds to the suggested element, and transient transfection assay revealed that overexpression of DEC2 repressed endogenous MLH1 expression in the cells. Hypoxia-induced DEC may impair MMR function through repression of MLH1 expression, possibly via the histone deacethylase-mediated mechanism in cancer cells.

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