Global DNA hypermethylation-associated cancer chemotherapy resistance and its reversion with the demethylating agent hydralazine

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Background: The development of resistance to cytotoxic chemotherapy continues to be a major obstacle for successful anticancer therapy. It has been shown that cells exposed to toxic concentrations of commonly used cancer chemotherapy agents develop DNA hypermetylation. Hence, demethylating agents could play a role in overcoming drug resistance. Methods: MCF-7 cells were rendered adriamycin-resistant by weekly treatment with adriamycin. Wild-type and the resulting MCF-7/Adr cells were analyzed for global DNA methylation. DNA methyltransferase activity and DNA methyltransferase (dnmt) gene expression were also determined. MCF-7/Adr cells were then subjected to antisense targeting of dnmt1, -3a, and -b genes and to treatment with the DNA methylation inhibitor hydralazine to investigate whether DNA demethylation restores sensitivity to adriamycin. Results: MCF-7/Adr cells exhibited the multi-drug resistant phenotype as demonstrated by adriamycin resistance, mdr1 gene over-expression, decreased intracellular accumulation of adriamycin, and cross-resistance to paclitaxel. The mdr phenotype was accompanied by global DNA hypermetylation, over-expression of dnmt genes, and increased DNA methyltransferase activity as compared with wild-type MCF-7 cells. DNA demethylation through antisense targeting of dnmts or hydralazine restored adriamycin sensitivity of MCF-7/Adr cells to a greater extent than verapamil, a known inhibitor of mdr protein, suggesting that DNA demethylation interferes with the epigenetic reprogramming that participates in the drug-resistant phenotype. Conclusion: We provide evidence that DNA hypermethylation is at least partly responsible for development of the multidrug-resistant phenotype in the MCF-7/Adr model and that hydralazine, a known DNA demethylating agent, can revert the resistant phenotype. © 2006 Segura-Pacheco et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Segura-Pacheco, B., Perez-Cardenas, E., Taja-Chayeb, L., Chavez-Blanco, A., Revilla-Vazquez, A., Benitez-Bribiesca, L., & Duenas-González, A. (2006). Global DNA hypermethylation-associated cancer chemotherapy resistance and its reversion with the demethylating agent hydralazine. Journal of Translational Medicine, 4.

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