Epigenetic inactivation of the canonical Wnt antagonist secreted frizzled-related protein 1 in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
ABSTRACT Secreted Frizzled-related protein 1 (sFRP1), as one of most important Wnt antagonists, is frequently silenced by promoter hypermethylation in many types of tumor, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we aimed to investigate whether restoration of sFRP1 affected HCC metastatic behavior. sFRP1 mRNA expression and promoter methylation in HCC tissues and cell lines were examined using RT-PCR and methylation-specific PCR (MS-PCR), respectively. sFRP1 protein expression was assessed by Western Blot. We generated stable HCC cell line restoration of sFRP1 in HepG2 cells, which naturally do not express detectable sFRP1 mRNA. The effects of exogenous sFRP1 on HepG2 cell invasion were investigated using trans-well assay. Also the effects of sFRP1 re-expression on the β-catenin/T-cell factor-dependent transcription activity was measured by luciferase assay.sFRP1 promoter methylation was frequently observed in HCC tissues (60%) and cell lines (75%). All samples with sFRP1 methylation showed down-regulation of sFRP1 expression in HCC cell lines. Demethylation treatment with 5-aza-20-deoxycytidine in HCC cells restored sFRP1 expression. Restoration of sFRP1 substantially impaired the invasive potentials of HepG2 cells. Moreover, exogenous sFRP1 caused significant decrease of β-catenin/T-cell factor-dependent transcription activity.These findings demonstrate that sFRP1 silencing due to promoter hypermethylation is a major event during tumorigenesis. sFRP1 is also a negative modulator of canonical Wnt signaling, which could contribute to metastasis in HCC progression, thus providing a possible therapeutic strategy against HCC.