Epigenetic control of NRF2, a master regulator of many critical antioxidative stress defense genes in human prostate cancer (CaP), is unknown. Our previous animal study found decreased Nrf2 expression through promoter CpG methylation/histone modifications during prostate cancer progression in TRAMP mice. In this study, we evaluated CpG methylation of human NRF2 promoter in 27 clinical prostate cancer samples and in LNCaP cells using MAQMA analysis and bisulfite genomic DNA sequencing. Prostate cancer tissue microarray (TMA) containing normal and prostate cancer tissues was studied by immunohistochemistry. Luciferase reporter assay using specific human NRF2 DNA promoter segments and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay against histone modifying proteins were performed in LNCaP cells. Three specific CpG sites in the NRF2 promoter were found to be hypermethylated in clinical prostate cancer samples (BPH<ADT-RCaP<AS-CaP). NRF2 staining in human prostate cancer TMA showed a decreasing trend for both intensity and percentage of positive cells from normal tissues to advanced-stage prostate cancer (Gleason score from 3–9). Reporter assays in the LNCaP cells containing these three CpG sites showed methylation-inhibited transcriptional activity of the NRF2 promoter. LNCaP cells treated with 5-aza/TSA restored the expression of NRF2 and NRF2 downstream target genes, decreased expression levels of DNMT and HDAC proteins, and ChIP assays showed increased RNA Pol II and H3Ac with a concomitant decrease in H3K9me3, MBD2, and MeCP2 at CpG sites of human NRF2 promoter. Taken together, these findings suggest that epigenetic modification may contribute to the regulation of transcription activity of NRF2, which could be used as prevention and treatment target of human prostate cancer. Cancer Prev Res; 7(12); 1–12. ©2014 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Prevention Research Online (http://cancerprevres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received April 14, 2014.
- Revision received August 27, 2014.
- Accepted September 16, 2014.
- ©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.