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Prostate. 2011 Mar 1;71(4):333-43. doi: 10.1002/pros.21247. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Disulfiram is a DNA demethylating agent and inhibits prostate cancer cell growth.

Author information

1
Chemical Therapeutics Program, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The clinical success of the nucleoside analogs 5-aza-cytidine (5-azaC) and 5-aza-2'deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) as DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitors has spurred interest in the development of non-nucleoside inhibitors with improved pharmacologic and safety profiles. Because DNMT catalysis features attack of cytosine bases by an enzyme thiol group, we tested whether disulfiram (DSF), a thiol-reactive compound with known clinical safety, demonstrated DNMT inhibitory activity.

METHODS:

Inhibition of DNMT1 activity by DSF was assessed using methyltransferase activity assays with recombinant DNMT1. Next, prostate cancer cell lines were exposed to DSF and assessed for: i) reduction of global 5-methyl cytosine ((5me)C) content using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS); ii) gene-specific promoter demethylation by methylation-specific PCR (MSP); and iii) gene-reactivation by real-time RT-PCR. DSF was also tested for growth inhibition using prostate cancer cell lines propagated in vitro in cell culture and in vivo as xenografts in nude mice.

RESULTS:

Disulfiram showed a dose-dependent inhibition of DNMT1 activity on a hemimethylated DNA substrate. In prostate cancer cells in culture, DSF exposure led to reduction of global genomic (5me)C content, increase in unmethylated APC and RARB gene promoters, and associated re-expression of these genes, but did not significantly alter prostate-specific antigen (PSA) expression. DSF significantly inhibited growth and clonogenic survival of prostate cancer cell lines in culture and showed a trend for reduced growth of prostate cancer xenografts.

CONCLUSIONS:

Disulfiram is a non-nucleoside DNMT1 inhibitor that can reduce global (5me)C content, reactivate epigenetically silenced genes, and significantly inhibit growth in prostate cancer cell lines.

PMID:
20809552
PMCID:
PMC3043358
DOI:
10.1002/pros.21247
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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