Tumor-specific down-regulation of the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand decoy receptors DcR1 and DcR2 is associated with dense promoter hypermethylation

Max M. van Noesel, Saskia van Bezouw, Gajja S. Salomons, P. A. Voûte, Rob Pieters, Steve B. Baylin, James G. Herman, Rogier Versteeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) induces apoptosis in a large variety of cancer cells but not in most normal human cells. This feature makes TRAIL, a potential antitumor agent. TRAIL can bind to four different receptors, two pro-apoptotic death receptors (DRs), DR4 and DR5, and two antiapoptotic decoy receptors (DcRs), DcR1 and DcR2. Normal cells express all four of the receptors. The increased TRAIL sensitivity of tumor cells has been postulated to result from the lack of DcR expression. We studied the tumor-specific down-regulation of the TRAIL receptors DcR1 and DcR2, as well as DR4 and DR5, in a group of pediatric tumor cell lines [nine neuroblastoma and three peripheral primitive neuro-ectodermal tumors (PNETs)] and three cell lines from adult tumors. Lack of expression of DcR1 and DcR2 was widespread (13 of the 15 cell lines and 10 of 15, respectively), both in the adult tumor cell lines and in the pediatric tumor lines. DR4 and DR5 were expressed in 8 of 15 and 12 of 15 cell lines, respectively. To understand the tumor-specific down-regulation of the TRAIL receptors, the promoter regions were studied for possible methylation changes of their CpG islands. All normal tissues were completely unmethylated, whereas in the tumor cell lines, we found frequent hypermethylation of the promoter. For DcR1 and DcR2, we found dense hypermethylation in 9 (69%) of 13 and 9 (90%) of 10 of nonexpressing cell lines, respectively. DR4 and DR5 were methylated in 5 (71%) of 7 and 2 (67%) of 3 nonexpressing cell lines, respectively. Treatment with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2′deoxycytidine resulted in partial demethylation and restored mRNA expression. In addition, we performed mutation analysis of the death domains of DR4 and DR5 by sequencing exon 9. Mutations were not present in any of the neuroblastoma or PNET cell lines. A panel of 28 fresh neuroblastoma tumor samples also lacked expression of DcR1 and DcR2 in 85 and 74% of cases, respectively. Hypermethylation was observed in 6 (21%) of 28 for DcR1 and 7 (25%) of 28 for DcR2. DR4 and DR5 were both expressed in 22 of 28 tumors, and no promoter methylation was observed. These data suggest that hypermethylation of the promoters of DcR1 and DcR2 is important in the down-regulation of expression in neuroblastoma and other tumor types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2157-2161
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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