Su ZY, Khor TO, Shu L, Lee JH, Saw CL, Wu TY, Huang Y, Suh N, Yang CS, Conney AH, Wu Q, Kong AN
Cancer development has been linked to epigenetic modifications of cancer oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes; in advanced metastatic cancers, severe epigenetic modifications are present. We previously demonstrated that the progression of prostate tumors in TRAMP mice is associated with methylation silencing of the Nrf2 promoter and a reduced level of transcription of Nrf2 and Nrf2 target genes. Radix Angelicae Sinensis (RAS; Danggui) is a medicinal herb and health food supplement that has been widely used in Asia for centuries. Z-Ligustilide (Lig) is one of the bioactive components of RAS. We investigated the potential of Lig and RAS to restore Nrf2 gene expression through epigenetic modification in TRAMP C1 cells. Lig and RAS induced the mRNA and protein expression of endogenous Nrf2 and Nrf2 downstream target genes, such as HO-1, NQO1, and UGT1A1. Bisulfite genomic sequencing revealed that Lig and RAS treatment decreased the level of methylation of the first five CpGs of the Nrf2 promoter. A methylation DNA immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated that Lig and RAS significantly decreased the relative amount of methylated DNA in the Nrf2 gene promoter region. Lig and RAS also inhibited DNA methyltransferase activity in vitro. Collectively, these results suggest that Lig and RAS are able to demethylate the Nrf2 promoter CpGs, resulting in the re-expression of Nrf2 and Nrf2 target genes. Epigenetic modifications of genes, including Nrf2, may therefore contribute to the overall health benefits of RAS, including the anticancer effect of RAS and its bioactive component, Lig.