Chromatin composition alterations and the critical role of MeCP2 for epigenetic silencing of progesterone receptor-B gene in endometrial cancers

Yongli Chu, Yanlin Wang, Guanghua Zhang, Haibin Chen, Sean C. Dowdy, Yuning Xiong, Fengming Liu, Run Zhang, Jinping Li, Shi Wen Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective T: To understand the epigenetic mechanism underlying the PR-B gene silencing in endometrial cancer (EC) cells, we compared the chromatin composition between transcriptionally active and silenced PR-B genes in EC cell lines and cancer tissues. Methods: Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay was performed to measure MBD occupancy and histone acetylation/methylation in transcriptionally active and silenced PR-B genes. PR-B-positive/-negative, as well as epigenetic inhibitor-treated/-untreated EC cells were used as study models. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Western blot analysis were applied to measure the mRNA and protein levels of PR-B, MBD, and histones. Results: A close association among PR-B methylation, MBD binding and PR-B gene silencing was observed. Treatment with epigenetic inhibitors led to dynamic changes in the PR-B chromatin composition and gene expression. Increased H3/H4 acetylation and H3-K4 methylation, and decreased H3-K9 methylation were found to be associated with re-activation of silenced PR-B genes. MeCP2 knockdown resulted in a decreased MeCP2 binding to PR-B genes and an increased PR-B expression. ChIP analysis of MeCP2 binding to PR-B genes in the PR-B-positive/-negative EC samples confirmed the significant role of MeCP2 in PR-B silencing. Conclusion: PR-B gene expression is regulated by a concerted action of epigenetic factors including DNA methylation, MBD binding, and histone modifications. MeCP2 occupancy of PR-B genes plays a critical role in PR-B gene silencing. These findings enriched our knowledge of the epigenetic regulation of PR-B expression in EC, and suggested that the epigenetic re-activation of PR-B could be explored as a potential strategy to sensitize the PR-B-negative endometrial cancers to progestational therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3393-3408
Number of pages16
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Chromatin
  • DNA methylation
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Epigenetic silencing
  • Progesterone receptor-B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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