Author(s): Haag T, Herkt CE, Walesch SK, Richter AM, Dammann RH
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Abstract Epigenetic gene inactivation through promoter hypermethylation is an important aberration involved in the silencing of tumor-associated genes in cancer. Here we identified the apoptosis associated tyrosine kinase (AATK) as an epigenetically downregulated tumor related gene. We analyzed the epigenetic regulation of AATK in several human cancer cell lines and normal tissues by methylation and expression analysis. Hypermethylation of AATK was also analyzed in 25 primary lung tumors, 30 breast cancers and 24 matching breast tissues. In normal tissues the AATK CpG island promoter was unmethylated and AATK was expressed. Hypermethylation of AATK occurred frequently in 13 out of 14 (93\%) human cancer cell lines. Methylation was reversed by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine treatment leading to re-expression of AATK in cancer cell lines. Aberrant methylation of AATK was also revealed in primary lung (40\%) and breast (53\%) cancers, but was found to be significantly less methylated in matching normal breast tissues (17\%; p<0.01). In addition, we observed that AATK is epigenetically reactivated through the chromatin regulator CTCF. We further show that overexpression of Aatk significantly suppresses colony formation in cancer cell lines. Our findings suggest that the apoptosis associated tyrosine kinase is frequently inactivated in human cancers and acts as a tumor suppressive gene.
This article was published in Genes Cancer
and referenced in Molecular Biology: Open Access