Methylation-related chromatin structure is associated with exclusion of transcription factors from and suppressed expression of the O-6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase gene in human glioma cell lines

J. F. Costello, B. W. Futscher, R. A. Kroes, R. O. Pieper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is considerable interest in identifying factors responsible for expression of the O-6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene, as MGMT is a major determinant in the response of glioma cells to the chemotherapeutic agent 1,3 bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea. Recently we have shown that MGMT expression is correlated in a direct, graded fashion with methylation in the body of the MGMT gene and in an inverse, graded fashion with promoter methylation in human glioma cell lines. To determine if promoter methylation is an important component of MGMT expression, this study addressed the complex interactions between methylation, chromatin structure, and in vivo transcription factor occupancy in the MGMT promoter of glioma cell lines with different levels of MGMT expression. Our results show that the basal promoter in MGMT-expressing glioma cell lines, which is 100% unmethylated, was very accessible to restriction enzymes at all sites tested, suggesting that this region may be nucleosome free. The basal promoter in glioma cells with minimal MGMT expression, however, which is 75% unmethylated, was much less accessible, and the basal promoter in nonexpressing cells, which is 50% unmethylated, was entirely inaccessible to restriction enzymes. Despite the presence of the relevant transcription factors in all cell lines examined, in vivo footprinting showed DNA-protein interactions at six Sp1 binding sites and one novel binding site in MGMT- expressing cell lines but no such interactions in nonexpressors. We conclude that in contrast to findings of previous in vitro studies, Sp1 is an important component of MGMT transcription. These correlations also strongly suggest that methylation and chromatin structure, by determining whether Sp1 and other transcription factors can access the MGMT promoter, set the transcriptional state of the MGMT gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6515-6521
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Volume14
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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