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Mol Oncol. 2018 Feb;12(2):166-179. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.12149. Epub 2017 Dec 14.

TCF21 hypermethylation regulates renal tumor cell clonogenic proliferation and migration.

Author information

1
Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2
Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Erasmus MC - Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University Medical Center Utrecht, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Pathology, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center, IL, USA.

Abstract

We recently identified hypermethylation at the gene promoter of transcription factor 21 (TCF21) in clear cell sarcoma of the kidney (CCSK), a rare pediatric renal tumor. TCF21 is a transcription factor involved in tubular epithelial development of the kidney and is a candidate tumor suppressor. As there are no in vitro models of CCSK, we employed a well-established clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) cell line, 786-O, which also manifests high methylation at the TCF21 promoter, with consequent low TCF21 expression. The tumor suppressor function of TCF21 has not been functionally addressed in ccRCC cells; we aimed to explore the functional potential of TCF21 expression in ccRCC cells in vitro. 786-O clones stably transfected with either pBABE-TCF21-HA construct or pBABE vector alone were functionally analyzed. We found that ectopic expression of TCF21 in 786-O cells results in a trend toward decreased cell proliferation (not significant) and significantly decreased migration compared with mock-transfected 786-O cells. Although the number of colonies established in colony formation assays was not different between 786-O clones, colony size was significantly reduced in 786-O cells expressing TCF21. To investigate whether the changes in migration were due to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition changes, we interrogated the expression of selected epithelial and mesenchymal markers. Although we observed upregulation of mRNA and protein levels of epithelial marker E-cadherin in clones overexpressing TCF21, this did not result in surface expression of E-cadherin as measured by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and immunofluorescence. Furthermore, mRNA expression of the mesenchymal markers vimentin (VIM) and SNAI1 was not significantly decreased in TCF21-expressing 786-O cells, while protein levels of VIM were markedly decreased. We conclude that re-expression of TCF21 in renal cancer cells that have silenced their endogenous TCF21 locus through hypermethylation results in reduced clonogenic proliferation, reduced migration, and reduced mesenchymal-like characteristics, suggesting a tumor suppressor function for transcription factor 21.

KEYWORDS:

TCF21; clear cell sarcoma of the kidney; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; methylation; renal cell carcinoma; tumor suppressor

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