Reprogramming of HeLa cells upon DNMT3L overexpression mimics carcinogenesis


Previously we had discovered loss of DNA methylation at the DNMT3L promoter, an enzymatically-inactive DNA methyltransferase, in squamous cell carcinoma of cervix indicating association between cancer and DNMT3L. This study extends this correlation further by identifying the role of DNMT3L in nuclear reprogramming, an event central to the process of carcinogenesis. We show that in cervical cancer cell lines, overexpression of DNMT3L, which functions by regulating the activity of DNMT3A and DNMT3B, increased cellular proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. Importantly, increased DNMT3L expression resulted in changed morphology of cells but this change was gradual and observed only after several passages. Interestingly, confluent cultures of DNMT3L-overexpressing HeLa cell colonies had characteristics of iPS cells. Concomitant with the morphological changes, expression pattern of genes important in nuclear reprogramming, development and cell cycle were observed to have significantly changed. Many imprinted genes, the known targets of DNMT3L, were downregulated. The slow nature of morphological changes and genome-wide nuclear reprogramming observed upon DNMT3L overexpression reinforces its role in carcinogenesis.

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Reprogramming of HeLa cells upon DNMT3L overexpression mimics carcinogenesis