Research Papers:

Altered methylation of glucosylceramide synthase promoter regulates its expression and associates with acquired multidrug resistance in invasive ductal breast cancer

Jiannan Liu, Xiaofang Zhang _, Aina Liu, Daoping Zhang, Yi Su, Ying Liu, Dong You, Leilei Yuan, Xiangshuo Kong, Xiaodan Wang and Ping Sun

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:36755-36766. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9337

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Jiannan Liu1,*, Xiaofang Zhang2,*, Aina Liu1, Daoping Zhang3, Yi Su1, Ying Liu1, Dong You1, Leilei Yuan4, Xiangshuo Kong1, Xiaodan Wang1, Ping Sun1

1Department of Oncology, Yuhuangding Hospital, Yantai, Shandong, 264000, P. R. China

2Department of Pathology, Shandong University School of Medicine, Jinan, Shandong, 250012, P. R. China

3Department of Rehabilitation, Qianfoshan Hospital, Jinan, Shandong, 250014, P. R. China

4Department of Radiology, Taian Central Hospital, Taian, Shandong, 271000, P. R. China

*These authors are contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Xiaofang Zhang, email: [email protected]

Ping Sun, email: [email protected]

Keywords: glucosylceramide synthase, DNA methylation, 5-Aza-dc, breast cancer

Received: October 17, 2015     Accepted: April 16, 2016     Published: May 13, 2016


Overexpression of glucosylceramide synthase (GCS) increases multidrug resistance (MDR) in many cancer cells. However, its mechanism is unknown. The aim of the present study is to detect the association of methylation at the GCS gene promoter with its expression and MDR in invasive ductal breast cancer. 40 cases GCS-positive and 40 cases GCS-negative primary breast carcinoma samples, three drug-sensitive breast cancer cell lines and one multidrug-resistant breast cancer cell line were used. Immunohistochemistry, methylation-specific PCR (MSP), quantitative real-time (qPCR), westernblot and cytotoxicity assay techniques were employed. Thwe results revealed that there was a statistically negative correlation between GCS CpG islands methylation and GCSphenotype in patients with breast cancer. GCS CpG islands methylation was negatively associated with high ER, meanwhile positively with high HER-2 status. Similar results were obtained from the analysis of breast cancer cell lines. Treatment with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dc) changed the GCS promoter methylation pattern in three sensitive cells and also caused increased drug resistance of them. These results suggested that the changes of DNA methylation status of the GCS promoter correlates with multidrug resistance in breast cancer.

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