An Sp1/Sp3 site polymorphism associated with hypermethylation of the candidate tumor suppressor gene RIL in cancer

Yanis A Boumber, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Gene silencing due to promoter methylation is an alternative to mutations and deletions, which inactivate tumor suppressor genes (TSG) in cancer. We identified RIL by Methylated CpG Island Amplification technique as a novel aberrantly methylated gene. RIL is expressed in normal tissues and maps to the 5q31 region, frequently deleted in leukemias. We found methylation of RIL in 55/80 (69%) cancer cell lines, with highest methylation in leukemia and colon. We also observed methylation in 46/80 (58%) primary tumors, whereas normal tissues showed substantially lower degrees of methylation. RIL expression was lost in 13/16 cancer cell lines and was restored by demethylating agent. Screening of 38 cell lines and 13 primary cancers by SSCP revealed no mutations in RIL, suggesting that methylation and LOH are the primary inactivation mechanisms. Stable transfection of RIL into colorectal cancer cells resulted in reduction in cell growth, clonogenicity, and increased apoptosis upon UVC treatment, suggesting that RIL is a good candidate TSG. In searching for a cause of RIL hypermethylation, we identified a 12-bp polymorphic sequence around the transcription start site of the gene that creates a long allele containing 3CTC repeat. Evolutionary studies suggested that the long allele appeared late in evolution due to insertion. Using bisulfite sequencing, in cancers heterozygous for RIL, we found that the short allele is 4.4-fold more methylated than the long allele (P = 0.003). EMSA results suggested binding of factor(s) to the inserted region of the long allele, but not to the short. EMSA mutagenesis and competition studies, as well as supershifts using nuclear extracts or recombinant Sp1 strongly indicated that those DNA binding proteins are Sp1 and Sp3. Transient transfections of RIL allele-specific expression constructs showed less than 2-fold differences in luciferase activity, suggesting no major effects of the additional Sp1 site on transcription. However, stable transfection resulted in 3-fold lower levels of transcription from the short allele 60 days post-transfection, consistent with the concept that the polymorphic Sp1 site protects against time-dependent silencing. Thus, an insertional polymorphism in the RIL promoter creates an additional Sp1/Sp3 site, which appears to protect it from silencing and methylation in cancer.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Boumber, Yanis A, "An Sp1/Sp3 site polymorphism associated with hypermethylation of the candidate tumor suppressor gene RIL in cancer" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3160647.