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Oncol Rep. 2018 Dec 18. doi: 10.3892/or.2018.6938. [Epub ahead of print]

Downregulation of PRMT1, a histone arginine methyltransferase, by sodium propionate induces cell apoptosis in colon cancer.

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Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea.


The microbiota and bacterial metabolites in the colon are regarded as alternative targets for colon cancer prevention and therapy. Among these metabolites, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) exhibit anticancer effects and suppress inflammation in the colon. However, the molecular mechanisms and target development of SCFAs require additional study. In the present study, using RNA-seq results from colon cancer samples derived from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) portal, overexpressed epigenetic modifiers were identified and RT-PCR and qRT-PCR analysis was performed to select target genes that responded to treatment with propionate in HCT116 cells. Downregulation of protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1), a histone arginine methyltransferase, was observed after sodium propionate (SP) treatment. Moreover, phospho-array analysis demonstrated that the mTOR pathway was involved in propionate and siPRMT1 treatment, and regulation of this pathway was associated with apoptosis in HCT116 cells. The present study, to the best of our knowledge, was the first to demonstrate that PRMT1 levels were reduced by propionate treatment in HCT116 cells and that downregulation of PRMT1 induced cell apoptosis. Thus, this novel mechanism of sodium propionate treatment for colon cancer therapy may indicate more effective approaches, such as dietary therapy, for CRC patients.


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