The aberrant expression of transcription factor Basonuclin (BNC) had been reported in different kinds of tumors. Here, we investigated the expression and methylation status of two Basonuclin homologs, BNC1 and BNC2 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We found that the expression levels of both BNC1 and BNC2 were down-regulated in HCC cell lines and primary HCC tissues. The frequency and intensity of BNC1 promoter hypermethylation in tumor tissues was significantly higher than that in adjacent non-tumor tissues. 5-Aza-2'-Deoxycytidine treatment could significantly increase the BNC1 expression in the methylated HCC cell lines, which implicated that epigenetic modification contributed to the down-regulation of BNC1. In addition, BNC1 hypermethylation in tumor tissues was more likely to happen in female patients. No methylation of the BNC2 promoter was found in HCC tumor tissues. However, a frequent deletion of the BNC2 gene was observed, which indicated that the chromosomal loss of the BNC2 gene might be one important reason for its lower expression level in HCC. Our results suggested that BNC1 and BNC2 were down-regulated in HCC which may provide new insight into the tumorigenesis of HCC.
Keywords: Basonuclin 1; Basonuclin 2; deletion; hepatocellular carcinoma; methylation.