Increased levels of DNA methyltransferases are associated with the tumorigenic capacity of prostate cancer cells
DNA methylation might be the earliest somatic genome changes in prostate cancer that also play an important role in the process of tumor invasion, growth and metastasis. In recent years, several inhibitors of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTis) have been developed and evaluated in pre-clinical models and in clinical trials. While these compounds are effective in the treatment of hematological conditions, clinical trials in solid tumors and in prostate cancer have shown limited or no efficacy. This
... no efficacy. This may be attributed to inappropriate dose regimens leading to toxicity-related adverse events. As with other anti-target compounds, one of the obstacles encountered with DNMTis in prostate cancer could be the inability to select patients for the clinical studies as well as the inability to monitor the efficacy of the drug if not the conclusion of the study. Primary cultures derived from human prostatic tissues harvested from patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer (PCa) as well as neoplastic and non-neoplastic prostate cell lines were tested for DNMT expression/activity and to monitor azacitidine molecular efficacy. We observed that in primary cultures the levels of DNMT activity as well as the protein levels of DNMT1, DNMT3a and DNMT3b were higher in cultures derived from PCa compared to BPH tissue samples and significantly higher in cultures derived from PCa with Gleason scores ≥7 compared to those observed in cultures derived from Gleason scores <7. In addition, DNMT activity as well as DNMT1, DNMT3a and DNMT3b levels were higher in PCa cell lines compared to their non-neoplastic counterparts. Although DNMT activity was higher in high tumorigenic/aggressive PCa cell lines compared to low tumorigenic/aggressive cell lines, only the levels of DNMT3a and DNMT3b were significantly higher in the first group of cells, suggesting that DNMT1 activity is related to the transition to non-neoplastic versus neoplastic phenotype whereas the de novo methylation enzymes were mainly related to progression. Nevertheless, the comparison in the more aggressive PC3 cell derivatives (PC3-LN4 cells) also possessed higher levels of DNMT1 compared to PC3 and PC3M from which these cells were derived. Collectively, our results confirm previous data on the increased methylation in more aggressive tumors supporting the use of DNMTis in advanced prostate cancer. In addition, since glutathione S-transferase-π (GSTP1) was re-expressed or its protein levels were increased after treatment with non-toxic azacitidine doses and since GSTP1 can easily be measured in patient sera, the monitoring of this protein may aide in the evaluation of therapy in future clinical trials.