Sabatino L, Fucci A, Pancione M, Carafa V, Nebbioso A, Pistore C, Babbio F, Votino C, Laudanna C, Ceccarelli M, Altucci L, Bonapace IM, Colantuoni V
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) inactivation has been identified as an important step in colorectal cancer (CRC) progression, although the events involved have been partially clarified. UHRF1 is emerging as a cofactor that coordinates the epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes, but its role in CRC remains elusive. Here, we report that UHRF1 negatively regulates PPARG and is associated with a higher proliferative, clonogenic and migration potential. Consistently, UHRF1 ectopic expression induces PPARG repression through its recruitment on the PPARG promoter fostering DNA methylation and histone repressive modifications. In agreement, UHRF1 knockdown elicits PPARG re-activation, accompanied by positive histone marks and DNA demethylation, corroborating its role in PPARG silencing. UHRF1 overexpression, as well as PPARG-silencing, imparts higher growth rate and phenotypic features resembling those occurring in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. In our series of 110 sporadic CRCs, high UHRF1-expressing tumors are characterized by an undifferentiated phenotype, higher proliferation rate and poor clinical outcome only in advanced stages III-IV. In addition, the inverse relationship with PPARG found in vitro is detected in vivo and UHRF1 prognostic significance appears closely related to PPARG low expression, as remarkably validated in an independent dataset. The results demonstrate that UHRF1 regulates PPARG silencing and both genes appear to be part of a complex regulatory network. These findings suggest that the relationship between UHRF1 and PPARG may have a relevant role in CRC progression.Oncogene advance online publication, 30 January 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.3.