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Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Dec 1;45(11):1573-80. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.09.005. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Epigenetic silencing of SOD2 by histone modifications in human breast cancer cells.

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Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Many breast cancer cells typically exhibit lower expression of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) compared to the normal cells from which they arise. This decrease can often be attributed to a defect in the transcription of SOD2, the gene encoding MnSOD; however, the mechanism responsible for this change remains unclear. Here, we describe how altered histone modifications and a repressive chromatin structure constitute an epigenetic process to down regulate SOD2 in human breast carcinoma cell lines. Utilizing chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) we observed decreased levels of dimethyl H3K4 and acetylated H3K9 at key regulatory elements of the SOD2 gene. Consistent with these results, we show that loss of these histone modifications creates a repressive chromatin structure at SOD2. Transcription factor ChIP experiments revealed that this repressive chromatin structure influences the binding of SP-1, AP-1, and NFkappaB to SOD2 regulatory cis-elements in vivo. Lastly, we show that treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitors trichostatin A and sodium butyrate can reactivate SOD2 expression in breast cancer cell lines. Taken together, these results indicate that epigenetic silencing of SOD2 could be facilitated by changes in histone modifications and represent one mechanism leading to the altered expression of MnSOD observed in many breast cancers.

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