DNA methylation plays a critical role in chromatin remodeling and gene expression. DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) are hypothesized to mediate cellular DNA methylation status and gene expression during mammalian development and in malignant diseases. In this study, we examined the role of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) and DNMT3b in cell proliferation and survival of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. Gene silencing of both DNMT1 and DNMT3b by targeted siRNA knockdown reduces cell proliferation and sensitizes the cells to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated cell death. The proapoptotic protein caspase-8 demonstrated promoter hypermethylation in HCC cells and was up-regulated by knockdown of DNMT1 and DNMT3b both at mRNA and protein levels. In addition, death receptor TRAIL-R2/DR5 (TRAIL receptor 2/death receptor 5) did not exhibit promoter hypermethylation in HCC cells but was also up-regulated by knockdown of DNMT1 and DNMT3b both at mRNA and protein levels. Consistent with this observation, the combined transfection of DNMT1-siRNA plus DNMT3b-siRNA enhanced formation of the TRAIL-death-inducing signaling complex formation in HCC cells. In conclusion, our data suggest that DNA methylation of specific genomic regions maintained by DNMT1 and DNMT3b plays a critical role in survival of HCC cells, and a simultaneous knockdown of both DNMT1 and DNMT3b may be a novel anticancer strategy for the treatment of HCC. (Cancer Sci 2010).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research