BMC gastroenterology

Epigenetic mechanisms involved in differential MDR1 mRNA expression between gastric and colon cancer cell lines and rationales for clinical chemotherapy.

PMID 18673531


The membrane transporters such as P-glycoprotein (Pgp), the MDR1 gene product, are one of causes of treatment failure in cancer patients. In this study, the epigenetic mechanisms involved in differential MDR1 mRNA expression were compared between 10 gastric and 9 colon cancer cell lines. The MDR1 mRNA levels were determined using PCR and real-time PCR assays after reverse transcription. Cytotoxicity was performed using the MTT assay. Methylation status was explored by quantification PCR-based methylation and bisulfite DNA sequencing analyses. The MDR1 mRNA levels obtained by 35 cycles of RT-PCR in gastric cancer cells were just comparable to those obtained by 22 cycles of RT-PCR in colon cancer cells. Real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed that MDR1 mRNA was not detected in the 10 gastric cancer cell lines but variable MDR1 mRNA levels in 7 of 9 colon cancer cell lines except the SNU-C5 and HT-29 cells. MTT assay showed that Pgp inhibitors such as cyclosporine A, verapamil and PSC833 sensitized Colo320HSR (colon, highest MDR1 expression) but not SNU-668 (gastric, highest) and SNU-C5 (gastric, no expression) to paclitaxel. Quantification PCR-based methylation analysis revealed that 90% of gastric cancer cells, and 33% of colon cancer cells were methylated, which were completely matched with the results obtained by bisulfite DNA sequencing analysis. 5-aza-2'-deoxcytidine (5AC, a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor) increased the MDR1 mRNA levels in 60% of gastric cells, and in 11% of colon cancer cells. Trichostatin A (TSA, histone deacetylase inhibitor) increased the MDR1 mRNA levels in 70% of gastric cancer cells and 55% of colon cancer cells. The combined treatment of 5AC with TSA increased the MDR1 mRNA levels additively in 20% of gastric cancer cells, but synergistically in 40% of gastric and 11% of colon cancer cells. These results indicate that the MDR1 mRNA levels in gastric cancer cells are significantly lower than those in colon cancer cells, which is at least in part due to different epigenetic regulations such as DNA methylation and/or histone deacetylation. These results can provide a better understanding of the efficacy of combined chemotherapy as well as their oral bioavailability.