Promoter CpG island hypermethylation- and H3K9me3 and H3K27me3-mediated epigenetic silencing targets the deleted in colon cancer (DCC) gene in colorectal carcinogenesis without affecting neighboring genes on chromosomal region 18q21

Carcinogenesis. 2009 Jun;30(6):1041-8. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgp073. Epub 2009 Mar 27.


Chromosomal loss of 18q21 is a frequent event in colorectal cancer (CRC) development, suggesting that this region harbors tumor suppressor genes (TSGs). Several candidate TSGs, among which methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 1 (MBD1), CpG-binding protein CXXC1, Sma- and Mad-related protein 4 (SMAD4), deleted in colon cancer (DCC) and methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 2 (MBD2) are closely linked on a 4-Mb DNA region on chromosome18q21. As TSGs can be epigenetically silenced, this study investigates whether MBD1, CXXC1, SMAD4, DCC and MBD2 are subject to epigenetic silencing in CRC. Methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction and sodium bisulfite sequencing of these genes show that DCC, but not MBD1, CXXC1, SMAD4 and MBD2, has promoter CpG island methylation in CRC cell lines and tissues {normal mucosa [29.5% (18/61)], adenomas [81.0% (47/58)] and carcinomas [82.7% (62/75)] (P = 8.6 x 10(-9))} that is associated with reduced DCC expression, independent of 18q21 loss analyzed by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. Reduced gene expression of CXXC1, SMAD4 and MBD2 correlates with 18q21 loss in CRC cell lines (P = 0.04, 0.02 and 0.02, respectively). Treatment with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, but not with the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A exclusively restored DCC expression in CRC cell lines. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies reveal that the DCC promoter is marked with repressive histone-tail marks H3K9me3 and H3K27me3, whereas activity related H3K4me3 was absent. Only active epigenetic marks were detected for MBD1, CXXC1, SMAD4 and MBD2. This study demonstrates specific epigenetic silencing of DCC in CRC as a focal process not affecting neighboring genes on chromosomal region 18q21.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azacitidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Azacitidine / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18 / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18 / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • CpG Islands*
  • DCC Receptor
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Decitabine
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • DCC Receptor
  • DCC protein, human
  • Histones
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • trichostatin A
  • Decitabine
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating
  • Azacitidine