PloS one

Epigenetic silencing of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ is a biomarker for colorectal cancer progression and adverse patients' outcome.

PMID 21151932


The relationship between peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARG) expression and epigenetic changes occurring in colorectal-cancer pathogenesis is largely unknown. We investigated whether PPARG is epigenetically regulated in colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. PPARG expression was assessed in CRC tissues and paired normal mucosa by western blot and immunohistochemistry and related to patients' clinicopathological parameters and survival. PPARG promoter methylation was analyzed by methylation-specific-PCR and bisulphite sequencing. PPARG expression and promoter methylation were similarly examined also in CRC derived cell lines. Chromatin immunoprecipitation in basal conditions and after epigenetic treatment was performed along with knocking-down experiments of putative regulatory factors. Gene expression was monitored by immunoblotting and functional assays of cell proliferation and invasiveness. Methylation on a specific region of the promoter is strongly correlated with PPARG lack of expression in 30% of primary CRCs and with patients' poor prognosis. Remarkably, the same methylation pattern is found in PPARG-negative CRC cell lines. Epigenetic treatment with 5'-aza-2'-deoxycytidine can revert this condition and, in combination with trichostatin A, dramatically re-activates gene transcription and receptor activity. Transcriptional silencing is due to the recruitment of MeCP2, HDAC1 and EZH2 that impart repressive chromatin signatures determining an increased cell proliferative and invasive potential, features that can experimentally be reverted. Our findings provide a novel mechanistic insight into epigenetic silencing of PPARG in CRC that may be relevant as a prognostic marker of tumor progression.