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Oncotarget. 2017 Dec 5;8(67):111866-111881. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.22942. eCollection 2017 Dec 19.

S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM) alters the transcriptome and methylome and specifically blocks growth and invasiveness of liver cancer cells.

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CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Beijing Institutes of Life Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) is a ubiquitous methyl donor that was reported to have chemo- protective activity against liver cancer, however the molecular footprint of SAM is unknown. We show here that SAM selectively inhibits growth, transformation and invasiveness of hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines but not normal primary liver cells. Analysis of the transcriptome of SAM treated and untreated liver cancer cell lines HepG2 and SKhep1 and primary liver cells reveals pathways involved in cancer and metastasis that are upregulated in cancer cells and are downregulated by SAM. Analysis of the methylome using bisulfite mapping of captured promoters and enhancers reveals that SAM hyper-methylates and downregulates genes in pathways of growth and metastasis that are upregulated in liver cancer cells. Depletion of two SAM downregulated genes STMN1 and TAF15 reduces cellular transformation and invasiveness, providing evidence that SAM targets are genes important for cancer growth and invasiveness. Taken together these data provide a molecular rationale for SAM as an anticancer agent.


S-adenosyl methionine; capture bisulfite sequencing; epigenetic; liver cancer; mRNA sequencing

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.

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