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Epigenetics. 2011 Aug;6(8):1035-46. doi: 10.4161/epi.6.8.16077. Epub 2011 Aug 1.

Methylation of specific CpG sites in the P2 promoter of parathyroid hormone-related protein determines the invasive potential of breast cancer cell lines.

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Laboratory for Epigenetics, Centre National de Génotypage, CEA-Institut de Génomique; Evry, France.


Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) is upregulated in primary breast cancers and a major candidate for osteoclastic bone resorption present at sites of breast cancer to bone metastases. Using a human model of mammary epithelial cell lines differing in tumorigenicity and PTHrP expression, we investigated the role of epigenetic modifications for PTHrP expression. Quantitative analysis of the DNA methylation patterns at a total of 104 CpGs in the promoter region of PTHrP by pyrosequencing showed the absence of methylation in all analyzed cell lines in the large CpG island upstream of exon 1C. In the second intron of promoter 2 (P2) a region was identified containing 4 CpG nucleotides for which differential methylation correlated with the PTHrP expression level. The functional importance of this control mechanism was confirmed by the ability of the demethylating agent 5'-azacytidine to induce PTHrP mRNA and iPTHrP protein expression in previously non-expressing cell lines and increase their production by metastatic NS2T2A1 cells. In particular, transcription from P2 was activated non-tumoral S1T3 cells upon treatment with 5'-azacytidine. Our findings support the hypothesis that the methylation status of specific CpG dinucleotides is the dominant mechanism involved in silencing of PTHrP expression rather than the overall methylation of the CpG island. Methylation of the PTHrP P2 is a potential marker of breast cancer progression and might be used to evaluate the metastatic potential of breast tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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