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Oncogene. 1995 Aug 3;11(3):475-84.

Progression of carcinoma cells is associated with alterations in chromatin structure and factor binding at the E-cadherin promoter in vivo.

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Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Berlin, Germany.


E-cadherin has been identified as a tumor (invasion) suppressor gene, which is mutated in 50% of diffuse-type human gastric carcinomas. In other carcinomas, the expression of E-cadherin is down-regulated in the poorly differentiated cells such as from breast, bladder, lung and colon. We have here examined the in vivo properties of the genomic E-cadherin promoter in well and poorly differentiated carcinoma cell lines in order to gain insights into the mechanisms of E-cadherin down-regulation in tumors. In vivo footprinting analysis revealed that positive regulatory elements of the E-cadherin promoter (a GC-rich region, the CCAAT-box and a palindromic element) are specifically bound by transcription factors in E-cadherin-expressing but not in non-expressing cells. The tested cell systems include more than a dozen carcinomas cell lines as well as mammary epithelial cells where E-cadherin expression can be switched off by activation of a Fos-estrogen receptor fusion protein and rhabdomyosarcoma cells where E-cadherin expression was induced by transfection with E1A. Mapping of DNase I hypersensitive sites showed that the chromatin structure in the promoter region is loosened in expressing but condensed in non-expressing cells. Furthermore, the endogenous E-cadherin promoter is specifically methylated at CpG sites in the undifferentiated cells. We also show that the in vivo properties of the promoter in E-caherin-negative carcinoma cells are similar as in mesenchymal cells, i.e. fibroblasts or sarcoma cells. These data suggest that silencing of the E-cadherin promoter during epithelialmesenchymal transition and tumor progression is due to a loss of factor binding in vivo and to chromatin rearrangement in the regulatory region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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