Background: Desmocollin 3 (DSC3), a member of the cadherin superfamily and integral component of desmosomes, is involved in carcinogenesis. However, the role of DSC3 in colorectal cancer (CRC) has not yet been established.
Methods: Desmocollin 3 expression in CRC cell lines was analysed by RT-PCR and western blotting. Methylation status of DSC3 was examined by demethylation tests, methylation-specific PCR, and bisulphite sequencing (BS). The regulatory role of p53 was investigated by transfection.
Results: Desmocollin 3 was downregulated in CRC cells at mRNA and protein levels. Desmocollin 3 expression was restored in five out of seven cell lines after 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (DAC) treatment. A heterogeneous methylation pattern was detected by BS in promoter region and exon 1 of DSC3. Methylation of DSC3 genomic sequences was found in 41% (41 out of 99) of primary CRC, being associated with poor prognosis (P=0.002). Transfection of p53 alone or in combination of DAC increased the DSC3 expression. Similarly, treatment with p53 inducer adriamycin alone or in combination with DAC enhanced DSC3 expression.
Conclusions: DNA methylation contributes to downregulation of DSC3 in CRC cell lines. Methylation status of DSC3 DNA is a prognostic marker for CRC. P53 appears to have an important role in regulating DSC3 expression.