The 3D tissue microenvironment modulates DNA methylation and E-cadherin expression in squamous cell carcinoma

 Abstract

The microenvironment plays a significant role in human cancer progression. However, the role of the tumor microenvironment in the epigenetic control of genes critical to cancer progression remains unclear. As transient E-cadherin expression is central to many stages of neoplasia and is sensitive to regulation by the microenvironment, we have studied if microenvironmental control of E-cadherin expression is linked to transient epigenetic regulation of its promoter, contributing to the unstable and reversible expression of E-cadherin seen during tumor progression. We used 3D, bioengineered human tissue constructs that mimic the complexity of their in vivo counterparts, to show that the tumor microenvironment can direct the re-expression of E-cadherin through the reversal of methylation-mediated silencing of its promoter. This loss of DNA methylation results from the induction of homotypic cell-cell interactions as cells undergo tissue organization. E-cadherin re-expression is associated with multiple epigenetic changes including altered methylation of a small number of CpGs, specific histone modifications, and control of miR-148a expression. These epigenetic changes may drive the plasticity of E-cadherin-mediated adhesion in different tissue microenvironments during tumor cell invasion and metastasis. Thus, we suggest that epigenetic regulation is a mechanism through which tumor cell colonization of metastatic sites occurs as E-cadherin-expressing cells arise from E-cadherin-deficient cells.

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Pages
34 - 46
doi
10.4161/epi.7.1.18546
Type
Research Paper
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The 3D tissue microenvironment modulates DNA methylation and E-cadherin expression in squamous cell carcinoma