Watanabe K, Emoto N, Hamano E, Sunohara M, Kawakami M, Kage H, Kitano K, Nakajima J, Goto A, Fukayama M, Nagase T, Yatomi Y, Ohishi N, Takai D
MicroRNA (miRNA) expression is frequently altered in human cancers. To search for epigenetically silenced miRNAs in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we mapped human miRNAs on autosomal chromosomes and selected 55 miRNAs in silico. We treated six NSCLC cell lines with the DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-CdR) and determined the expressions of the 55 miRNAs. Fourteen miRNAs were decreased in the cancer cell lines and were induced after 5-aza-CdR treatment. After a detailed DNA methylation analysis, we found that mir-34b and mir-126 were silenced by DNA methylation. Mir-34b was silenced by the DNA methylation of its own promoter, whereas mir-126 was silenced by the DNA methylation of its host gene, EGFL7. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed H3K9me2 and H3K9me3 in mir-34b and EGFL7, and H3K27me3 in EGFL7. The overexpression of mir-34b and mir-126 decreased the expression of c-Met and Crk, respectively. The 5-aza-CdR treatment of lung cancer cell line resulted in increased mir-34b expression and decreased c-Met protein. We next analyzed the DNA methylation status of these miRNAs using 99 primary NSCLCs. Mir-34b and mir-126 were methylated in 41 and 7% of all the cases, respectively. The DNA methylation of mir-34b was not associated with c-Met expression determined by immunohistochemistry, but both mir-34b methylation (p = 0.007) and c-Met expression (p = 0.005) were significantly associated with lymphatic invasion in a multivariate analysis. The DNA methylation of mir-34b can be used as a biomarker for an invasive phenotype of lung cancer.