Background: The action of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is mediated through type 1 (TbetaRI) and type 2 (TbetaRII) receptors. Prostate cancer cells are often resistant to TGF-beta signaling due to loss of TbetaRII expression. The authors of the current study hypothesized that CpG methylation of the TbetaRII promoter at the Sp1 binding site -140 mediates this loss of TbetaRII expression in prostate cancer.
Methods: Sixty-seven prostate cancer (PC) samples, 8 benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) samples, and 4 prostate cancer cell lines (DUPro, LNCaP, ND-1 and PC-3) were analyzed for 1) TbetaRII mRNA expression by semiquantitative RT-PCR, 2) TbetaRII protein expression by immunohistochemistry, and 3) TGFbetaRII promoter methylation at CpG site -140 by methylation specific PCR and bisulfite DNA sequencing. Prostate cancer cell lines were treated with the demethylating agent 5aza2'deoxycytidine to determine if TbetaRII gene expression could be increased by blocking promoter methylation.
Results: mRNA and protein expression of TbetaRII was lower in the PC samples than in the BPH samples. CpG methylation at site -140 was higher in PC than in BPH (P < 0.01). Promoter methylation was inversely correlated with TbetaRII mRNA expression in the PC and BPH samples (P < 0.0001). PC3, ND1, and DUPro TbetaRII mRNA expression increased following treatment of cells with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine.
Conclusion: CpG methylation of the TbetaRII promoter at CPG site -140 leads to functional loss of the TbetaRII gene in prostate cancer. Treatment with 5-aza-2' deoxycytidine can restore gene expression. The current study results report the first association between prostate cancer and loss of the TGF- beta signaling pathway by TbetaRII DNA promoter methylation.