Increased heparanase expression is caused by promoter hypomethylation and up-regulation of transcriptional factor early growth response-1 in human prostate cancer

Tatsuya Ogishima, Hiroaki Shiina, Julia E Breault, Laura Tabatabai, William W Bassett, Hideki Enokida, Long-Cheng Li, Toshifumi Kawakami, Shinji Urakami, Leopoldo A Ribeiro-Filho, Masaharu Terashima, Makoto Fujime, Mikio Igawa, Rajvir Dahiya
Clinical Cancer Research 2005 February 1, 11 (3): 1028-36

PURPOSE: Heparanase degrades heparan sulfate and has been implicated in tumor invasion and metastasis. The transcription factor, early growth response 1 (EGR1), is associated with the inducible transcription of the heparanase gene. We hypothesize that CpG hypomethylation in the heparanase promoter coupled with up-regulation of EGR1 levels may induce heparanase expression in human prostate cancer.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Cultured prostate cancer cell lines (Du145, DuPro, LNCaP, and PC-3) with and without 5'-aza-2-deoxycytidine treatment, 177 prostate cancer samples, and 69 benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) samples were used. The frequency and level of heparanase promoter methylation were analyzed by methylation-specific primers which covered the core binding motif of EGR1 (GGCG) or SP1 (GGGCGG) or both.

RESULTS: In cultured Du145, DuPro, LNCaP, and PC-3 cell lines, mRNA transcripts of heparanase were significantly increased after 5'-aza-2-deoxycytidine treatment, suggesting that promoter methylation was involved in the regulation of heparanase mRNA transcript. Significantly higher methylation was found in BPH samples than in prostate cancer samples (P < 0.0001), whereas mRNA transcripts of the heparanase gene were inversely lower in BPH samples than in prostate cancer samples (P < 0.01). EGR1 expression in prostate cancer tissues was significantly higher than in BPH tissues (P < 0.001) and correlated with heparanase expression (P < 0.0001). Moreover, multiple regression analysis revealed that up-regulation of EGR1 contributed significantly more to heparanase expression than did promoter CpG hypomethylation in prostate cancer samples (P < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge this is the first comprehensive study demonstrating that increased heparanase expression in prostate cancer tissues is due to promoter hypomethylation and up-regulation of transcription factor EGR1.

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