Abrogation of DUSP6 by hypermethylation in human pancreatic cancer

J Hum Genet. 2005;50(4):159-167. doi: 10.1007/s10038-005-0235-y. Epub 2005 Apr 12.


Our previous study indicated that DUSP6/MKP-3/PYST1 could act as a tumor suppressor in human pancreatic cancer. DUSP6 was frequently underexpressed in primary pancreatic cancer tissues by an unknown mechanism. In this study, we demonstrated that hypermethylation of the expressional control region of DUSP6 could account for its abrogation in cultured human pancreatic cancer cells and in primary pancreatic cancer tissues. First, we checked intrinsic transcriptional expression levels of DUSP6 by a quantitative real time PCR assay in 16 cultured pancreatic cancer cell lines and found that the cells could be classified into four groups: very-low-level expression, low-level expression, high-level expression, and very-high-level expression. We observed restored expression of DUSP6 after treatment with 5-azacytidine and trichostatin A, a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor and a histone deacetylase inhibitor, respectively, in cells with intrinsically very-low-level and low-level expression of DUSP6. Using a sodium-bisulfite-modification assay, we found that CpG sequences in intron 1 of DUSP6 were heavily methylated in MIA PaCa-2 and PAN07JCK, both showing the very low level of intrinsic expression of the gene. On the other hand, no methylation in this region was detected in 14 other cell lines. We checked the methylation state of this region by a methylation-specific PCR method in 12 primary pancreatic cancer tissues and compared it with the expression state of DUSP6 investigated by immunohistochemistry. Methylation was detected in five of eight cases with abolished expressions of DUSP6, four of which were poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. On the other hand, none of the four cases with preserved expression of DUSP6 showed methylation. The methylation state significantly correlated with both the abolishment of protein expression (p = 0.038) and the histological subtype of adenocarcinoma (p = 0.023) by chi-square test. These results indicate that hypermethylation of the CpG islands in intron 1 may account for the strong suppression of DUSP6 expression. Other mechanism(s) and/or other CpG sites outside of our investigation may have some influence upon expressional suppression. Our combined results suggest that hypermethylation with modification of histone deacetylation play an important role in transcriptional suppression of DUSP6 in human pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Azacitidine / pharmacology
  • Base Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Dual Specificity Phosphatase 6
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / genetics*
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • trichostatin A
  • DUSP6 protein, human
  • Dual Specificity Phosphatase 6
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • Azacitidine