Metastatic lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death. In recent years, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been found to contribute to metastasis, as it enables migratory and invasive properties in cancer cells. Previous genome-wide studies found that DNA methylation was unchanged during EMT induced by TGF-β in AML12 cells. In this study, we aimed to discover EMT-related changes in DNA methylation in cancer cells, which are poorly understood.
We employed a next-generation sequencing-based method, MSCC (methyl-sensitive cut counting), to investigate DNA methylation during EMT in the A549 lung cancer cell line.
We found that methylation levels were highly correlated to gene expression, histone modifications and small RNA expression. However, no differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were found in A549 cells treated with TGF-β for 4 h, 12 h, 24 h and 96 h. Additionally, CpG islands (CGIs) showed no overall change in methylation levels, and at the single-base level, almost all of the CpGs showed conservation of DNA methylation levels. Furthermore, we found that the expression of DNA methyltransferase 1, 3a, 3b (DNMT1, DNMT3a, DNMT3b) and ten-eleven translocation 1 (TET1) was altered after EMT. The level of several histone methylations was also changed.
DNA methylation-related enzymes and histone methylation might have a role in TGF-β-induced EMT without affecting the whole DNA methylome in cancer cells. Our data provide new insights into the global methylation signature of lung cancer cells and the role of DNA methylation in EMT.
The virtual slides for this article can be found here: http://www.diagnosticpathology.diagnomx.eu/vs/1112892497119603