Tumor Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 403–412 | Cite as

Epigenetic changes induced by oxidative stress in colorectal cancer cells: methylation of tumor suppressor RUNX3

  • Kyoung Ah Kang
  • Rui Zhang
  • Gi Young Kim
  • Suk Chul Bae
  • Jin Won Hyun
Research Article


Runt domain transcription factor 3 (RUNX3) is a tumor suppressor that is silenced in cancer via hypermethylation of its promoter. This study investigated the mechanisms involved in reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced silencing of RUNX3 in terms of epigenetic alteration since the effects of oxidative stress in tumor suppressor gene transcription are largely unknown. RUNX3 mRNA and protein expressions were down-regulated in response to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the human colorectal cancer cell line SNU-407. This down-regulation was abolished with pretreatment of the ROS scavenger, N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Moreover, methylation-specific PCR data revealed that H2O2 treatment increased RUNX3 promoter methylation; however, NAC and the cytosine methylation inhibitor, 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC), decreased it, suggesting that an epigenetic regulatory mechanism by ROS-induced methylation may be involved in RUNX3 silencing. H2O2 treatment resulted in DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) up-regulation with increased expression and activity, increased binding of DNMT1 to HADC1, and increased DNMT1 binding to the RUNX3 promoter. In addition, 5-Aza-dC treatment prevented the decrease in RUNX3 mRNA and protein levels by H2O2 treatment. Additionally, H2O2 treatment inhibited the nuclear localization and expression of RUNX3, which was abolished by NAC treatment. Furthermore, the down-regulation of RUNX3 expression by H2O2 also influenced cell proliferation. Taken together, the data suggested that ROS silenced the tumor suppressor, RUNX3, by epigenetic regulation and may therefore be associated with the progression of colorectal cancer.


Runt domain transcription factor 3 Tumor suppressor gene Colorectal cancer Reactive oxygen species Epigenetic alteration 



This study was supported by a grant from the National R&D Program for Cancer Control, Ministry for Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (1120340).


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyoung Ah Kang
    • 1
  • Rui Zhang
    • 2
  • Gi Young Kim
    • 3
  • Suk Chul Bae
    • 4
  • Jin Won Hyun
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Radiation Cancer ResearchKorea Institute of Radiological and Medical SciencesSeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.School of MedicineJeju National UniversityJejuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Marine Life SciencesJeju National UniversityJejuRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry, School of MedicineChungbuk National UniversityCheongjuRepublic of Korea

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