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Oncol Rep. 2009 Nov;22(5):1221-7.

Promoter histone H3 lysine 9 di-methylation is associated with DNA methylation and aberrant expression of p16 in gastric cancer cells.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, First Affiliated Hospital, China Medical University, 110001 Shenyang, PR China.


In the course of gastric cancer development, gene silencing by DNA hypermethylation is an important mechanism. While DNA methylation often co-exists with histone modifications to regulate gene expression, the function of histone modifications in gene silencing in gastric cancer has not been evaluated in detail. p16, a well-known tumor suppressor gene, is frequently silenced in DNA hypermethylation manner in gastric cancer. Accordingly, we chose p16 to clarify whether there is a correlation among histone H3 lysine 9 (H3-K9) di-methylation, H3-K9 acetylation, DNA methylation and p16 expression in human gastric cancer. Three gastric cancer cells, MKN-45, SGC-7901 and BGC-823, were treated with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC) and/or trichostatin A (TSA). We investigated p16 promoter DNA methylation status, p16 mRNA levels, regional and global levels of di-methyl-H3-K9 and acetyl-H3-K9 in four groups: i) 5-Aza-dC, ii) TSA, iii) the combination of 5-Aza-dC and TSA and iv) control group with no treatments. p16 silencing is characterized by DNA hypermethylation, H3-K9 hypoacetylation and H3-K9 hypermethylation at the promoter region. Treatment with TSA, increased H3-K9 acetylation at the hypermethylated promoter, but did not affect H3-K9 di-methylation or p16 expression. By contrast, treatment with 5-Aza-dC, reduced H3-K9 di-methylation, increased H3-K9 acetylation at the hypermethylated promoter and reactivated the expression of p16. Combined treatment restored the expression of p16 synergistically. In addition, 5-Aza-dC and the combined treatment did not result in global alteration of H3-K9 di-methylation. These results suggest that H3-K9 di-methylation, H3-K9 acetylation and DNA methylation work in combination to silence p16 in gastric cancer. The decreased H3-K9 di-methylation correlates with DNA demethylation and reactivation of p16. H3-K9 di-methylation as well as DNA methylation related to p16 silencing is limited to the promoter region. In addition to its effect on DNA methylation, 5-Aza-dC can act at histone modification levels to reactivate p16 expression in region-specific and DNA methylation-dependent manner.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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