Expression of DNA Methyltransferase 1 Is a Hallmark of Melanoma, Correlating with Proliferation and Response to B-Raf and Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Inhibition in Melanocytic Tumors
Journal Paper/Review - Jul 15, 2020
Gassenmaier Maximilian, Rentschler Maximilian, Fehrenbacher Birgit, Eigentler Thomas K, Ikenberg Kristian, Kosnopfel Corinna, Sinnberg Tobias, Niessner Heike, Bösmüller Hans, Wagner Nikolaus, Schaller Martin, Garbe Claus, Röcken Martin
Aberrant DNA methylation is an epigenetic hallmark of melanoma, but the expression of DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt)-1 in melanocytic tumors is unknown. Dnmt1 expression was analyzed in primary melanocytes, melanoma cell lines, and 83 melanocytic tumors, and its associations with proliferation, mutational status, and response to B-Raf and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibition were explored. Dnmt1 expression was increased incrementally from nevi [mean fluorescence intensity (MFI), 48.1; interquartile range, 41.7 to 59.6] to primary melanomas (MFI, 68.8; interquartile range, 58.4 to 77.0) and metastatic melanomas (MFI, 87.5; interquartile range, 77.1 to 114.5) (P < 0.001). Dnmt1 expression was correlated with Ki-67 expression (Spearman correlation, 0.483; P < 0.001) and was independent of BRAF mutation status (P = 0.55). In BRAF-mutant melanoma, Dnmt1 was down-regulated during response to B-Raf and MEK inhibition and was again up-regulated on drug resistance in vitro and in vivo. Degradation of Dnmt1 by the histone deacetylase inhibitor suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid was associated with decreased cell viability in B-Raf inhibitor-sensitive and -resistant cell lines. This study demonstrates that Dnmt1 expression is correlated with proliferation in melanocytic tumors, is increased with melanoma progression, and is associated with response to B-Raf and MEK inhibition. Given its strong expression in metastatic melanoma, Dnmt1 may be a promising target for combined epigenetic and immunotherapy.