E-cadherin expression is silenced by 5' CpG island methylation in acute leukemia

Paul G. Corn, B. Douglas Smith, Emily S. Ruckdeschel, Donna Douglas, Stephen B. Baylin, James G. Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


E-Cadherin is a transmembrane glycoprotein that mediates Ca2+-dependent intercellular adhesion in normal epithelium. In tumors of epithelial origin, E-cadherin expression frequently is reduced, an event that contributes to tumor invasion and metastasis. The role of E-cadherin in hematopoietic tissues is less clear. In normal bone marrow, E-cadherin is expressed on erythroid progenitors, CD34+ stem cells, and stromal cells, where it likely contributes to intercellular interactions during hematopoiesis. In this study, we used a nested-PCR approach to examine the methylation status of the E-cadherin 5' CpG island in blood and bone marrow samples from normal donors and in bone marrow from patients with acute leukemia. In normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells and bone marrow, E-cadherin was completely unmethylated. In peripheral blood mononuclear cells, expression was evident by reverse transcription-PCR. Immunoblotting confirmed E-cadherin protein expression in two lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from normal donors. In contrast, E-cadherin was aberrantly methylated in 4 of 4 (100%) leukemia cell lines, 14 of 44 (32%) acute myelogenous leukemias, and 18 of 33 (53%) acute lymphoblastic leukemias. Genomic bisulfite sequencing of primary leukemias confirmed dense methylation across the CpG island. Methylation was associated with loss of E-cadherin RNA and protein in leukemia cell lines and primary leukemias. Following treatment with 5-aza-2'deoxycytidine, a methylated leukemia cell line expressed both E-cadherin transcript and protein. Our results show that methylation of E-cadherin occurs commonly in acute leukemia and suggests a hypothesis for E-cadherin down-regulation in leukemogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4243-4248
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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