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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Methylation silencing of the Apaf-1 gene in acute leukemia.

Apaf-1 is important for tumor suppression and drug resistance because it plays a central role in DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Inactivation of the Apaf-1 gene is implicated in disease progression and chemoresistance of some malignancies. In this study, we attempted to clarify the role of Apaf-1 in leukemogenesis. Apaf-1 mRNA levels were below the detection limit or very low in 5 of 20 human leukemia cell lines (25%) and 5 of 12 primary acute myeloblastic leukemia cells (42%). There were no gross structural abnormalities in the Apaf-1 gene in these samples. Expression of factors regulating Apaf-1 transcription, such as E2F-1, p53, and Sp-1, did not differ between Apaf-1-positive and Apaf-1-negative cells. Methylation of CpG in the region between +87 and +128 of the Apaf-1 gene was almost exclusively observed in Apaf-1-defective cell lines. Treatment of these cells with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, a specific inhibitor of DNA methylation, restored the expression of Apaf-1. Furthermore, we showed that the region between +87 and +128 could act as a repressor element by recruiting corepressors such as methylated DNA-binding domain 2 and histone deacetylase 1 upon methylation. Overexpression of Dnmt1, a mammalian maintenance DNA methyltransferase, was associated with Apaf-1 gene methylation. DNAs from Dnmt1-overexpressing cells were more resistant to digestion with methylation-sensitive enzyme HpaII than those from cells with low Dnmt1 expression, suggesting that Dnmt1 mediates aberrant methylation of multiple genes. In conclusion, methylation silencing is a mechanism of the inactivation of Apaf-1 in acute leukemia, and Dnmt1 overexpression may underlie hypermethylation of the Apaf-1 gene.[1]


  1. Methylation silencing of the Apaf-1 gene in acute leukemia. Furukawa, Y., Sutheesophon, K., Wada, T., Nishimura, M., Saito, Y., Ishii, H., Furukawa, Y. Mol. Cancer Res. (2005) [Pubmed]
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