Author(s): Nunna S, Reinhardt R, Ragozin S, Jeltsch A
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Abstract The Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM) is overexpressed in many cancers including ovarian cancer and EpCAM overexpression correlates with decreased survival of patients. It was the aim of this study to achieve a targeted methylation of the EpCAM promoter and silence EpCAM gene expression using an engineered zinc finger protein that specifically binds the EpCAM promoter fused to the catalytic domain of the Dnmt3a DNA methyltransferase. We show that transient transfection of this construct increased the methylation of the EpCAM promoter in SKOV3 cells from 4-8\% in untreated cells to 30\%. Up to 48\% methylation was observed in stable cell lines which express the chimeric methyltransferase. Control experiments confirmed that the methylation was dependent on the fusion of the Zinc finger and the methyltransferase domains and specific for the target region. The stable cell lines with methylated EpCAM promoter showed a 60-80\% reduction of EpCAM expression as determined at mRNA and protein level and exhibited a significantly reduced cell proliferation. Our data indicate that targeted methylation of the EpCAM promoter could be an approach in the therapy of EpCAM overexpressing cancers.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Biomolecular Research & Therapeutics