Joosten M, Seitz V, Zimmermann K, Sommerfeld A, Berg E, Lenze D, Leser U, Stein H, Hummel M
Background. A characteristic feature of anaplastic large cell lymphoma is the significant repression of the T-cell expression program despite its T-cell origin. The reasons for this down-regulation of T-cell phenotype are still unknown. Design and Methods. To elucidate whether epigenetic mechanisms are responsible for the loss of the T-cell phenotype, we treated anaplastic large cell lymphoma and T-cell lymphoma/leukemia cell lines (n=4, each) with epigenetic modifiers to evoke DNA demethylation and histone acetylation. Global gene expression data from treated and untreated cell lines were generated and selected differentially expressed genes were evaluated by real-time RT-PCR and Western Blot analysis. Additionally, histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation was analyzed by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Results. Combined DNA demethylation and histone acetylation of anaplastic large cell lymphoma cells was not able to reconstitute their T-cell phenotype. Instead, the same treatment induced in T-cells (i) an up-regulation of anaplastic large cell lymphoma-characteristic genes (e.g. ID2, LGALS1, c-JUN) and (ii) an almost complete extinction of their T-cell phenotype including CD3, LCK and ZAP70. In addition, a suppressive trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 27 of important T-cell transcription factor genes (GATA3, LEF1, TCF1) was present in anaplastic large cell lymphoma cells, which is in line with their absence in primary tumour specimens as demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. Conclusions. Our data suggest that epigenetically activated suppressors (e.g. ID2) contribute to the down-regulation of the T-cell expression program in anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which is maintained by trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 27.