Research Papers:

ARHI is a novel epigenetic silenced tumor suppressor in sporadic pheochromocytoma

Dong Wang, Li Song, Liang Wang, Lianmei Zhao, Bai Xiang, Ying Li, Baoen Shan _ and Jing Liu

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:86325-86338. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21149

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Dong Wang1,*, Li Song2,*, Liang Wang3,*, Lianmei Zhao4, Bai Xiang5, Ying Li3, Baoen Shan4 and Jing Liu3

1Department of Urology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Beijing 100730, P.R. China

2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Basic Medicine, Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang 050017, P.R. China

3State-Level International Cooperation Base, Regenerative Medicine Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, Dalian 116011, P.R. China

4Research Center, The Fourth Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang 050011, P.R. China

5Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang 050017, P.R. China

*Co-first authors

Correspondence to:

Baoen Shan, email: [email protected]

Jing Liu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: ARHI, epigenetic tumor suppressor, sporadic pheochromocytoma, copy number deletion, p27Kip1

Received: March 28, 2016    Accepted: August 28, 2017    Published: September 21, 2017


Pheochromocytoma (PCC) is related to germline mutations in 12 susceptibility genes. Although comparative genomic hybridization array has revealed some putative tumor suppressor genes on the short arm of chromosome 1 that are likely to be involved in PCC tumorigenesis, the molecules involved, except for those encoded by known susceptibility genes, have not been found in the generation of sporadic tumors. In the present work, we first identified that the unmethylated allele of Aplasia Ras homolog member I (ARHI) was deleted in most PCC tumors which retained a hypermethylated copy, while its mRNA level was significantly correlated with the unmethylated copy. De-methylation experiments confirmed that expression of ARHI was also regulated by the methylation level of the remaining allele. Furthermore, ARHI overexpression inhibited cell proliferation, with cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis, in ARHI-negative primary human PCC cells, whereas knockdown of ARHI demonstrated the opposite effect in ARHI-positive primary human PCC cells. Finally, we demonstrated that ARHI has the ability to suppress pAKT and pErK1/2, to promote the expression of p21Waf1/Cip1 and p27Kip1, and also to increase p27Kip1 protein stability. In summary, ARHI was silenced or downregulated in PCC tissues harboring only one hypermethylated allele. ARHI contributes to tumor suppression through inhibition of PI3K/AKT and MAKP/ERK pathways, to upregulate cell cycle inhibitors such as p27Kip1. We therefore reasoned that ARHI is a novel epigenetic silenced tumor suppressor gene on chromosome 1p that is involved in sporadic PCC tumorigenesis.

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