Lactoferrin (LTF) is an iron-binding protein canonically known for its innate and adaptive immune functions. LTF may also act as a tumor suppressor with antiproliferative action. LTF is inactivated genetically or epigenetically in various cancers, and a CpG island spanning the transcriptional start site of LTF is hypermethylated in prostate cancer cell lines. We, therefore, hypothesized that LTF expression is silenced via CpG island hypermethylation in the early stages of prostate tumorigenesis carcinogenesis. Targeted methylation analysis was performed using a combination of methylated-DNA precipitation and methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes, and laser-capture microdissection followed by bisulfite sequencing on DNA isolated from prostate tissue samples, including both primary and metastatic disease. LTF mRNA in situ hybridization and LTF protein immunohistochemistry were also performed. We report that the LTF CpG island is frequently and densely methylated in high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, primary prostate carcinoma, and metastases. We further report a decoupling of lactoferrin mRNA and protein expression, including in lesions where LTF mRNA has presumably been silenced via CpG island methylation. We conclude that LTF mRNA expression is silenced in prostate tumorigenesis via hypermethylation, supporting a role for LTF as a prostate cancer tumor suppressor gene. Likewise, the frequency at which the LTF CpG island is methylated across samples suggests it is an important and conserved step in prostate cancer initiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine