Selective association of the methyl-CpG binding protein MBD2 with the silent p14/p16 locus in human neoplasia

F Magdinier, A P Wolffe
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2001 April 24, 98 (9): 4990-5
DNA methylation of tumor suppressor genes is a common feature of human cancer. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor gene p16/Ink4A is hypermethylated in a wide range of malignant tissues and the p14/ARF gene located 20 kb upstream on chromosome 9p21 is also methylated in carcinomas. p14/ARF (ARF, alternative reading frame) does not inhibit the activities of cyclins or cyclin-dependent kinase complexes; however, the importance of the two gene products in the etiology of cancer resides in their involvement in two major cell cycle regulatory pathways: p53 and the retinoblastoma protein, Rb, respectively. Distinct first exons driven from separate promoters are spliced onto the common exons 2 and 3 and the resulting proteins are translated in different reading frames. Both genes are expressed in normal cells but can be alternatively or coordinately silenced when their CpG islands are hypermethylated. Herein, we examined the presence of methyl-CpG binding proteins associated with aberrantly methylated promoters, the distribution of acetylated histones H3 and H4 by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, and the effect of chemical treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5aza-dC) and trichostatin A on gene induction in colon cell lines by quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. We observed that the methyl-CpG binding protein MBD2 is targeted to methylated regulatory regions and excludes the acetylated histones H3 and H4, resulting in a localized inactive chromatin configuration. When methylated, the genes can be induced by 5aza-dC but the combined action of 5aza-dC and trichostatin A results in robust gene expression. Thus, methyl-CpG binding proteins and histone deacetylases appear to cooperate in vivo, with a dominant effect of DNA methylation toward histone acetylation, and repress expression of tumor suppressor genes hypermethylated in cancers.

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