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Front Genet. 2019 May 29;10:486. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00486. eCollection 2019.

Gene Expression and DNA Methylation Alterations During Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis-Associated Liver Carcinogenesis.

Author information

1
Division of Biochemical Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR, United States.
2
Program in Cancer Genetics, Epigenetics and Genomics, Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, Albuquerque, NM, United States.

Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most aggressive human cancers. HCC is characterized by an acquisition of multiple abnormal phenotypes driven by genetic and epigenetic alterations, especially abnormal DNA methylation. Most of the existing clinical and experimental reports provide only a snapshot of abnormal DNA methylation patterns in HCC rather than their dynamic changes. This makes it difficult to elucidate the significance of these changes in the development of HCC. In the present study, we investigated hepatic gene expression and gene-specific DNA methylation alterations in mice using the Stelic Animal Model (STAM) of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-derived liver carcinogenesis. Analysis of the DNA methylation status in aberrantly expressed epigenetically regulated genes showed the accumulation of DNA methylation abnormalities during the development of HCC, with the greatest number of aberrantly methylated genes being found in full-fledged HCC. Among these genes, only one gene, tubulin, beta 2B class IIB (Tubb2b), was increasingly hypomethylated and over-expressed during the progression of the carcinogenic process. Furthermore, the TUBB2B gene was also over-expressed and hypomethylated in poorly differentiated human HepG2 cells as compared to well-differentiated HepaRG cells. The results of this study indicate that unique gene-expression alterations mediated by aberrant DNA methylation of selective genes may contribute to the development of HCC and may have diagnostic value as the disease-specific indicator.

KEYWORDS:

H3K4me3; Tubb2b; gene specific methylation; hepatocellular carcinoma; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

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