Journal Article

Epigenetic silencing of <i>O</i><sup>6</sup>-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase gene in NiS-transformed cells

Weidong Ji, Linqing Yang, Lei Yu, Jianhui Yuan, Dalin Hu, Wenjuan Zhang, Jianping Yang, Yaqin Pang, Wenxue Li, Jiachun Lu, Juan Fu, Jiakun Chen, Zhongning Lin, Wen Chen and Zhixiong Zhuang

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 29, issue 6, pages 1267-1275
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Epigenetic silencing of O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase gene in NiS-transformed cells

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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Nickel (Ni) compounds are potent carcinogens and can induce malignant transformation of rodent and human cells. To uncover the molecular mechanisms of nickel sulfide (NiS)-induced cell transformation, we investigated epigenetic alterations in a set of DNA repair genes. The silencing of the O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene locus and upregulation of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) expression was specifically detected in NiS-transformed human bronchial epithelial (16HBE) cells. In addition, we noted epigenetic alterations including DNA hypermethylation, reduced histone H4 acetylation and a decrease in the ratio of Lys-9 acetylated/methylated histone H3 at the MGMT CpG island in NiS-transformed 16HBE cells. Meanwhile, we identified concurrent binding of methyl-CpG-binding protein 2, methylated DNA-binding domain protein 2 and DNMT1 to the CpG island of the MGMT promoter, demonstrating that these components collaborate to maintain MGMT methylation in NiS-transformed cells. Moreover, depletion of DNMT1 by introduction of a small hairpin RNA construct into NiS-transformed cells resulted in a 30% inhibition of cell proliferation and led to increased MGMT gene expression by reversion of the epigenetic modifications at the MGMT promoter region. MGMT suppression and hypermethylation at the CpG island of the MGMT promoter occurred 6 days after NiS treatment, indicating that epigenetic modifications of MGMT might be an early event in tumorigenesis. Taken together, these observations demonstrate that epigenetic silencing of MGMT is associated with DNA hypermethylation, histone modifications and DNMT1 upregulation, which contribute to NiS-induced malignant transformation.

Journal Article.  6283 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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