Epigenetic inactivation of class II transactivator (CIITA) is associated with the absence of interferon-gamma-induced HLA-DR expression in colorectal and gastric cancer cells

Satoh A, Toyota M, Ikeda H, Morimoto Y, Akino K, Mita H, Suzuki H, Sasaki Y, Kanaseki T, Takamura Y, Soejima H, Urano T, Yanagihara K, Endo T, Hinoda Y, Fujita M, Hosokawa M, Sato N, Tokino T and Imai K
Source: Oncogene
Publication Date: (2004)
Issue: 23(55): 8876-8886
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Cells used in publication:
Species: human
Tissue Origin: colon
Nucleofectorâ„¢ I/II/2b
Tightly regulated at the level of transcription, expression of MHC class II molecules varies significantly among gastrointestinal cancers. High levels of MHC class II expression are often associated with a better prognosis, which is indicative of the involvement of CD4+ lymphocytes in tumor suppression, but the molecular mechanism by which MHC class II expression is regulated remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the expression of one inducible MHC class II molecule, HLA-DR, and its coactivators in a panel of colorectal and gastric cancer cell lines. Interferon-gamma induced expression of HLA-DR in 14 of 20 cell lines tested; the remaining six cell lines did not express HLA-DR. Analysis of the expression of transcription factors and coactivators associated with HLA-DR revealed that the loss of CIITA expression was closely associated with the absence of HLA-DR induction. Moreover, DNA methylation of the 5' CpG island of CIITA-PIV was detected in all cancer cells that lacked CIITA. The methylation and resultant silencing of CIITA-PIV depended on the activities of two DNA methyltransferases, DNMT1 and DNMT3B, and their genetic inactivation restored CIITA-PIV expression. It thus appears that CIITA methylation is a key mechanism that enables some gastrointestinal cancer cells to escape immune surveillance.