The expression of DNA methyltransferases and methyl-CpG-binding proteins is not associated with the methylation status of p14ARF p16INK4a and RASSF1A in human lung cancer cell lines

Mitsuo Sato, Yoshitsugu Horio, Yoshitaka Sekido, John D. Minna, Kaoru Shimokata, Yoshinori Hasegawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Promoter hypermethylation is an important means for the transcriptional repression of a number of cancerassociated genes. However, the underlying mechanism of this aberration in cancer remains unclear. Here, we examined 5′ CpG island methylation status and expression of the p14ARF p16INK4a and RASSF1A tumor suppressor genes, and investigated the relationship of these factors with the mRNA expression of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and/or methyl-CpG-binding proteins (MBPs) in 30 lung cancer cell lines including 12 small cell lung cancers (SCLCs) and 18 non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). When β-actin was used as an internal control, the mRNA expression of three DNMTs (DNMT1, DNMT3A, and DNMT3B) and five MBPs (MBD1, MBD2, MBD3, MBD4, and MeCP2) was upregulated in SCLC, while only that of DNMT1, DNMT3B and MBD3 was upregulated in NSCLC, compared with normal lung tissues. However, when normalized using proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as an internal control, these differences disappeared or diminished; there was even a significant reduction in the expression ratios of DNMT1, MBD2 and MeCP2 in SCLC and DNMT1, MBD2 and MBD4 in NSCLC. Furthermore, although significant correlations between PCNA expression and mRNA expression levels of the three DNMTs and four of the MBPs (excluding MeCP2) were observed, there was no obvious correlation between promoter hypermethylation of these tumor suppressor genes and the expression level of any of the DNMTs or MBPs. Our results suggest that upregulation of DNMTs and MBPs probably reflects an increased cell proliferation in human lung cancers and that there are likely to exist gene-specific mechanisms for epigenetic gene silencing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4822-4829
Number of pages8
Issue number31
StatePublished - 2002


  • DNA methylation
  • DNA methyltransferase
  • Epigenetic modification
  • Lung cancer
  • Methyl-CpG-binding protein
  • Tumor suppressor gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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