Re-expression of Selected Epigenetically Silenced Candidate Tumor Suppressor Genes in Cervical Cancer by TET2-directed Demethylation

Christian Huisman, Monique G P van der Wijst, Matthijs Schokker, Pilar Blancafort, Martijn M Terpstra, Klaas Kok, Ate G J van der Zee, Ed Schuuring, G Bea A Wisman, Marianne G Rots

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Abstract

DNA hypermethylation is extensively explored as therapeutic target for gene expression modulation in cancer. Here, we re-activated hypermethylated candidate tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) (C13ORF18, CCNA1, TFPI2, and Maspin) by TET2-induced demethylation in cervical cancer cell lines. To redirect TET2 to hypermethylated TSGs, we engineered zinc finger proteins (ZFPs), which were first fused to the transcriptional activator VP64 to validate effective gene re-expression and confirm TSG function. ChIP-Seq not only revealed enriched binding of ZFPs to their intended sequence, but also considerable off-target binding, especially at promoter regions. Nevertheless, results obtained by targeted re-expression using ZFP-VP64 constructs were in line with cDNA overexpression; both revealed strong growth inhibition for C13ORF18 and TFPI2, but not for CCNA1 and Maspin. To explore effectivity of locus-targeted demethylation, ZFP TET2 fusions were constructed which efficiently demethylated genes with subsequent gene re-activation. Moreover, targeting TET2 to TFPI2 and C13ORF18, but not CCNA1, significantly decreased cell growth, viability, and colony formation in cervical cancer cells compared to a catalytically inactive mutant of TET2. These data underline that effective re-activation of hypermethylated genes can be achieved through targeted DNA demethylation by TET2, which can assist in realizing sustained re-expression of genes of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-547
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Therapy
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2016

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