Genistein induces the p21WAF1/CIP1 and p16INK4a tumor suppressor genes in prostate cancer cells by epigenetic mechanisms involving active chromatin modification

Shahana Majid, Nobuyuki Kikuno, Jason Nelles, Emily Noonan, Yuichiro Tanaka, Ken Kawamoto, Hiroshi Hirata, Long C Li, Hong Zhao, Steve T Okino, Robert F Place, Deepa Pookot, Rajvir Dahiya
Cancer Research 2008 April 15, 68 (8): 2736-44
Genistein (4',5,7-trihydroxyisoflavone) is the most abundant isoflavone found in the soybean. The effects of genistein on various cancer cell lines have been extensively studied but the precise molecular mechanisms are not known. We report here the epigenetic mechanism of the action of genistein on androgen-sensitive (LNCaP) and androgen-insensitive (DuPro) human prostate cancer cell lines. Genistein induced the expression of tumor suppressor genes p21 (WAF1/CIP1/KIP1) and p16 (INK4a) with a concomitant decrease in cyclins. There was a G(0)-G(1) cell cycle arrest in LNCaP cells and a G(2)-M arrest in DuPro cells after genistein treatment. Genistein also induced apoptosis in DuPro cells. DNA methylation analysis revealed the absence of p21 promoter methylation in both cell lines. The effect of genistein on chromatin remodeling has not been previously reported. We found that genistein increased acetylated histones 3, 4, and H3/K4 at the p21 and p16 transcription start sites. Furthermore, we found that genistein treatment also increased the expression of histone acetyl transferases that function in transcriptional activation. This is the first report on epigenetic regulation of various genes by genistein through chromatin remodeling in prostate cancer. Altogether, our data provide new insights into the epigenetic mechanism of the action of genistein that may contribute to the chemopreventive activity of this dietary isoflavone and have important implications for epigenetic therapy.

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