Epigenetic regulation of CXCR4 expression by the ocular microenvironment

Haochuan Li, Jerry Y. Niederkorn, Leila Sadegh, Jessamee Mellon, Peter W. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 by tumors is associated with metastatic migration and invasion of tumor cells. The importance of CXCR4 expression by uveal melanomas in metastasis to the liver was recently demonstrated when injection of CXCR4-negative uveal melanoma cells into mice resulted in reduced liver metastasis compared with CXCR4-positive uveal melanoma cells. Factors in the eye can induce downregulation of genes by epigenetic mechanisms. This study examined whether epigenetic regulation by the ocular environment induced downregulation of CXCR4 expression. METHODS. LS174T colon cancer cells were injected in the anterior chamber (AC), subcutaneously (SC), or in the spleen capsule to induce liver metastasis in immune-deficient mice. CXCR4 gene transcription was analyzed by RT-PCR, and protein expression was determined by flow cytometry. Methyltransferase and histone deacetylase activities were determined by ELISA. Treatment with either 5-Aza-2-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) or trichostatin A (TSA) was used to induce demethylation or inhibit histone deacetylases, respectively. RESULTS. AC-derived LS174T cells showed lower CXCR4 gene expression compared with SC-, liver-derived, or wild-type tumor cells. AC-derived LS174T tumor cells expressed methyltransferase activity compared with SC-, liver-derived, and wild-type tumor cells. Deacetylase activity was elevated in ACderived LS174T tumor cells compared with SC-derived, liverderived, and wild-type tumor cells. Treatment of AC-derived LS174T tumor cells with 5-Aza upregulated CXCR4 expression. TSA treatment did not restore CXCR4 expression. CONCLUSIONS. These studies demonstrate that ocular microenvironment factors induce methylation and downregulation of tumor CXCR4 expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-243
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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