1. Department of Biochemical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China
2. Department of Endocrinology, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China
3. Department of Oncology, 920th Hospital of PLA Joint Logistics support Force, Yunnan, China
4. Department of Pathology, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China
5. Department of Pathology, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
6. Yangpu Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
* These authors contributed equally to this work.
Cadherin related family member 2 (CDHR2) belongs to the protocadherin family and is abundant in normal liver, kidney, and colon tissues, but weakly expressed in cancers arising from these tissues. In this study, we demonstrated that CDHR2 was highly expressed in para-cancer tissues of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but significantly downregulated or silenced in 85.7% (6/7) of HCC cell lines by both semi-quantitative PCR and western blot, and 79.1% (19/24) and 80.2% (89/111) of tumor tissues from patients with HCC by semi-quantitative PCR, and immunohistochemistry, respectively. Interestingly, CpG islands in the promoter of CDHR2 gene were hypermethylated in HCC cell lines and tissues compared with the para-cancer tissues by methylation-specific PCR analysis, leading to transcriptional repression and silencing of CDHR2 in HCC. In addition, CDHR2 overexpression by lentiviral vectors had suppressive effects on HCC cell growth and proliferation, as evidenced by prolonged cell doubling time and reduced colony-forming ability in vitro, as well as by decreased tumorigenicity in vivo. Mechanistically, CDHR2 overexpression resulted in AKT dephosphorylation along with downregulation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2), a downstream target of AKT. This effect was reversed by myristoylated AKT, a constitutively active form of AKT, suggesting an involvement of CDHR2-AKT-COX2 axis in the suppression of HCC growth. Taken together, our study identified CDHR2 as a novel tumor suppressor in HCC and provided a new therapeutic target for HCC.
Keywords: CDHR2, methylation, hepatocarcinoma, proliferation, AKT, COX2