Mian OY, Wang SZ, Zhu SZ, Gnanapragasam MN, Graham L, Bear HD, Ginder GD
Methyl cytosine binding domain protein 2 (MBD2) has been shown to bind to and mediate repression of methylated tumor suppressor genes in cancer cells, where repatterning of CpG methylation and associated gene silencing is common. We have investigated the role of MBD2 in breast cancer cell growth and tumor suppressor gene expression. We show that stable short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown of MBD2 leads to growth suppression of cultured human mammary epithelial cancer lines, SK-BR-3, MDA-MB-231, and MDA-MB-435. The peak antiproliferative occurs only after sustained, stable MBD2 knockdown. Once established, the growth inhibition persists over time and leads to a markedly decreased propensity for aggressive breast cancer cell lines to form in vivo xenograft tumors in Bagg Albino (BALB)/C nu/nu mice. The growth effects of MBD2 knockdown are accompanied by derepression of tumor suppressor genes, including DAPK1 and KLK10. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays and bisulfite sequencing show MBD2 binding directly to the hyper methylated and CpG-rich promoters of both DAPK1 and KLK10. Remarkably, the promoter CpG island-associated methylation of these genes remained stable despite robust transcriptional activation in MBD2 knockdown cells. Expression of a shRNA-resistant MBD2 protein resulted in restoration of growth and resilencing of the MBD2-dependent tumor suppressor genes. Our data suggest that uncoupling CpG methylation from repressive chromatin remodeling and histone modifications by removing MBD2 is sufficient to initiate and maintain tumor suppressor gene transcription and suppress neoplastic cell growth. These results show a role for MBD2 in cancer progression and provide support for the prospect of targeting MBD2 therapeutically in aggressive breast cancers.