Karius T, Schnekenburger M, Ghelfi J, Walter J, Dicato M, Diederich M
Glutathione-S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) gene is commonly silenced by CpG island promoter hypermethylation in prostate, breast, and liver cancers. However, mechanisms leading to GSTP1 repression by promoter hypermethylation in leukemia and its relationship with pathological alterations of the chromatin structure remain poorly understood. A panel of leukemia cell lines was analyzed for their GSTP1 expression, revealing cell lines with high, moderate or no detectable GSTP1 expression. Bisulfite sequencing, methylation-specific PCR and combined bisulfite restriction analysis revealed that GSTP1 promoter was completely methylated in transcriptionally inactive RAJI and MEG-01 cell lines. In contrast, cell lines expressing GSTP1 exhibited an unmethylated and transcriptionally active promoter. Furthermore, histone marks and effector proteins associated with transcriptional activity were detected by chromatin immunoprecipitation in the GSTP1 expressing hypomethylated K-562 cell line. However, repressive chromatin marks and the recruitment of silencing protein complexes were found in the non-expressing hypermethylated RAJI and MEG-01 cell lines. Finally, we provide evidence that treatment of RAJI and MEG-01 cells with the DNA demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, resulted in GSTP1 promoter demethylation, drastic changes of histone modifications and promoter associated proteins and GSTP1 gene activation. In contrast, treatments with HDAC inhibitors failed to demethylate and reactivate the GSTP1 gene. Our study extends the knowledge on leukemia-specific epigenetic alterations of GSTP1 gene. Furthermore, we are showing the correlation of DNA methylation and histone modifications with the positive/negative GSTP1 transcriptional expression state. Finally, these data support the concept of the dominance of DNA methylation over HDAC inhibitor-sensitive histone deacetylation in gene silencing.