DNMT1 Regulates Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition and Cancer Stem Cells, Which Promotes Prostate Cancer Metastasis

Eunsohl Lee, Jingcheng Wang, Kenji Yumoto, Younghun Jung, Frank C. Cackowski, Ann M. Decker, Yan Li, Renny T. Franceschi, Kenneth J. Pienta, Russell S. Taichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Cancer metastasis is a multistep process associated with the induction of an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cells (CSCs). Although significant progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating EMT and the CSC phenotype, little is known of how these processes are regulated by epigenetics. Here we demonstrate that reduced expression of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) plays an important role in the induction of EMT and the CSC phenotype by prostate cancer (PCa) cells, with enhanced tumorigenesis and metastasis. First, we observed that reduction of DNMT1 by 5-azacitidine (5-Aza) promotes EMT induction as well as CSCs and sphere formation in vitro. Reduced expression of DNMT1 significantly increased PCa migratory potential. We showed that the increase of EMT and CSC activities by reduction of DNMT1 is associated with the increase of protein kinase C. Furthermore, we confirmed that silencing DNMT1 is correlated with enhancement of the induction of EMT and the CSC phenotype in PCa cells. Additionally, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay reveals that reduction of DNMT1 promotes the suppression of H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 on the Zeb2 and KLF4 promoter region in PCa cells. Critically, we found in an animal model that significant tumor growth and more disseminated tumor cells in most osseous tissues were observed following injection of 5-Aza pretreated–PCa cells compared with vehicle-pretreated PCa cells. Our results suggest that epigenetic alteration of histone demethylation regulated by reduction of DNMT1 may control induction of EMT and the CSC phenotype, which facilitates tumorigenesis in PCa cells and has important therapeutic implications in targeting epigenetic regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-566
Number of pages14
JournalNeoplasia (United States)
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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