Purpose: Stat6 signaling is active in cancer cells and IL-4-induced Stat6 activities or Stat6 activational phenotypes vary among cancer cells. This study aimed at investigating possible mechanism(s) involved in the formation of varying Stat6 activities/phenotypes.
Methods: Stat6 regulatory genes, SOCS-1 and SHP-1, were examined for mRNA expression using RT-PCR, and their promoter DNA methylation was assayed by methylation-specific PCR in Stat6-phenotyped colon cancer cell lines. DNA methylation was then verified by sequencing. RT-PCR assay and Western blotting were used to detect the expression of SOCS-1 and SHP-1 after demethylation using 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine.
Results: Compared with Stat6(null) Caco-2 cells, Stat6(high) HT-29 cells showed decreased constitutive expression of SOCS-1 and SHP-1, which correlated with DNA hypermethylation in these genes' promoters. Interestingly, demethylation in HT-29 cells recovered the constitutive expression of SOCS-1 and SHP-1.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that DNA methylation controls the constitutive expression of negative Stat6 regulatory genes, which may affect Stat6 activities.