The human REIC gene is a recently found mortalization-related gene and a candidate tumor suppressor gene expression of which is largely attenuated in many immortalized and tumor-derived cell lines (Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 268 (2000) 20-24). To gain insight into the mechanisms of the down-regulation, we investigated the genomic structure and promoter activity of the human REIC gene. The gene, identical with the DKK-3 gene, resides on chromosome 11p15.1, consists of nine exons, and has two promoters. Methylation in the main promoter region was detected in 11 out of 21 cell lines tested (52%) derived from a variety of human tumors, in which the expression of the REIC gene was decreased. In ten of these 11 cell lines the minor promoter was also methylated. Similarly, the REIC gene expression was decreased in 14 of 24 fresh non-small cell lung cancer specimens (58%) compared to that in corresponding non-cancerous tissue, though allelic loss and tumor-specific mutation were rare. Of these 14 tumors, at least five tumors exhibited heavy methylation of the REIC promoter region. These results indicate that the down-regulation of the REIC gene expression is ascribed to the aberrant promoter hyper-methylation at least in a subset of human tumors. The expression was restored upon treatment of SQ5 cells with 5-aza-deoxycytidine, confirming DNA methylation as the mode of downregulation. A notable single nucleotide polymorphism in the coding region (cSNP) with an amino acid substitution of glycine (GGG) to arginine (AGG) was found at codon 335 of the REIC gene. However, the distribution of the cSNP showed no significant difference between lung cancer patients and healthy population.