Oncology reports

HBD-2 is downregulated in oral carcinoma cells by DNA hypermethylation, and increased expression of hBD-2 by DNA demethylation and gene transfection inhibits cell proliferation and invasion.

PMID 24927104


Human β-defensin-2 (hBD-2) is a type of epithelial antimicrobial peptide. The expression level of hBD-2 mRNA is lower in oral carcinoma cells (OCCs) than in healthy oral epithelium. Yet, it is still unknown how hBD-2 expression is downregulated in OCCs. The present study investigated DNA hypermethylation of hBD-2 in OCCs and the effect of the demethylation and increased expression of hBD-2 on cell proliferation and invasion. Six different types of oral carcinoma cell lines (OSC-19, BSC-OF, SAS, HSC-2, HSC-4 and HSY) and normal oral keratinocytes (NOKs) were used. The expression levels of hBD-2 in all OCCs were significantly lower than that in the NOKs. Treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-aza-dC, at the concentration of 50xa0µM significantly induced upregulation of expression of hBD-2 in the OCCs. Using methylation-specific PCR, DNA hypermethylation was observed in all OCCs. These results suggest that DNA hypermethylation is, at least in part, involved in the decreased expression of hBD-2 in OCCs. We examined the effect of 5-aza-dC on the cell proliferation and invasive ability of OCCs. The cell invasion assays showed that the number of OCCs treated with 5-aza-dC on the filters was significantly lower than that of the controls. We examined whether increased expression of hBD-2 generated by gene transfection inhibited the proliferation and invasion of SAS cells. The number of SAS cells exhibiting increased expression of hBD-2 on the filters in the invasion assay were significantly lower on day 7 when compared with the control. hBD-2 may function as a tumor suppressor. Increased expression of hBD-2 induced by demethylation or increased expression generated by gene transfection may be useful therapeutic methods for oral carcinoma.