DNA hypomethylation on pericentromeric satellite regions is an early and frequent event associated with heterochromatin instability during human hepatocarcinogenesis. A DNA methyltransferase, DNMT3b, is required for methylation on pericentromeric satellite regions during mouse development. To clarify the molecular mechanism underlying DNA hypomethylation on pericentromeric satellite regions during human hepatocarcinogenesis, we examined mutations of the DNMT3b gene and mRNA expression levels of splice variants of DNMT3b in noncancerous liver tissues showing chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, which are considered to be precancerous conditions, and in hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). Mutation of the DNMT3b gene was not found in HCCs. Overexpression of DNMT3b4, a splice variant of DNMT3b lacking conserved methyltransferase motifs IX and X, significantly correlated with DNA hypomethylation on pericentromeric satellite regions in precancerous conditions and HCCs (P = 0.0001). In particular, the ratio of expression of DNMT3b4 to that of DNMT3b3, which is the major splice variant in normal liver tissues and retains conserved methyltransferase motifs I, IV, VI, IX, and X, showed significant correlation with DNA hypomethylation (P = 0.009). Transfection of human epithelial 293 cells with DNMT3b4 cDNA induced DNA demethylation on satellite 2 in pericentromeric heterochromatin DNA. These results suggest that overexpression of DNMT3b4, which may lack DNA methyltransferase activity and compete with DNMT3b3 for targeting to pericentromeric satellite regions, results in DNA hypomethylation on these regions, even in precancerous stages, and plays a critical role in human hepatocarcinogenesis by inducing chromosomal instability.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2002 Jul 23|
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