Expression and epigenetic modulation of sonic hedgehog-GLI1 pathway genes in neuroblastoma cell lines and tumors

Mehdi H. Shahi, Paula Schiapparelli, Mohammad Afzal, Subrata Sinha, Juan A. Rey, Javier S. Castresana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


It is well known that sonic hedgehog signaling pathway plays a vital role during early embryonic development. It is also responsible for stem cell renewal and development of several cancers like colorectal and breast carcinoma and major brain tumors as medulloblastoma and glioblastoma. The role of sonic hedgehog signaling in the development of neuroblastoma has not been thoroughly investigated. In this study, we attempted to determine the expression of Bmi-1 stem cell marker and of Shh pathway downstream target genes glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (GLI1), protein patched homolog 1 (PTCH1), Cyclin D2, plakoglobin (γ catenin), NK2 homeobox 2 (NKX2.2), paired box gene 6 (PAX6), secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (SFRP1), and hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) in 11 neuroblastoma cell lines and 41 neuroblastoma samples. Also, inhibition of the pathway was performed genetically by GLI1 knockdown siRNA or chemically by cyclopamine. After inhibition, low transcript expression was detected in downstream target genes like PTCH1, in the cell lines. We further preformed promoter methylation studies of Cyclin D2, PTCH1, HHIP, and SFRP1 genes by melting curve analysis-based methylation assay (MCA-Meth) and methylation-specific PCR (MSP). Results revealed no methylation in Cyclin D2 gene promoter in neuroblastoma samples or in cell lines; one cell line (MHH-NB-11) showed PTCH1 methylation; 3/11 (27%) cell lines and 9/41 (22%) neuroblastoma samples showed HHIP methylation; and 3/11 (27%) cell lines and 11/41 (27%) samples showed SFRP1 methylation. Taken together, our results suggest the possibility of two levels of control of the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway: transcriptional and epigenetic, which might offer new therapeutic possibilities to modulate the pathway and try to suppress tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-127
Number of pages15
JournalTumor Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Cyclopamine
  • GLI1
  • Methylation
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Sonic hedgehog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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