Breast cancer cells are arrested at different phases of the cell cycle following the re-expression of ARHI.
ARHI is a maternally imprinted tumor suppressor gene that is expressed in normal breast epithelial cells but not in most breast cancer cells. Aberrant methylation and hypernomic histone deacetylation have been implicated in the silencing of ARHI. To investigate the mechanism of ARHI induction, MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were either transfected with the eukaryotic expression vector, pcDNA3.1(+)-ARHI, or were simultaneously treated with a histone deacetylase inhibitor, [trichostatin A, (TSA)] and the methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (DAC). The latter treatment group also included the targeting of ARHI by small interfering RNA (siRNA) to further examine interactions between ARHI and the drugs applied. Levels of ARHI were detected by western blotting, MTT assays were used to evaluate cell proliferation, and both cell cycle progression and apoptosis were detected using flow cytometry. Both the transfection of pcDNA3.1(+)?ARHI and the application of TSA+DAC induced the expression of ARHI. Furthermore, reduced cell proliferation, cell cycle arrest and enhanced apoptosis were observed for both groups compared to controls. However, a G1/S cell cycle arrest was observed for the pcDNA3.1(+)-ARHI group, while a G2 cell cycle arrest was observed for the TSA+DAC group. The latter effect was reversed with the introduction of ARHI-targeted siRNA in combination with TSA+DAC treatment. To further clarify these observations, expression levels of several key cell cycle regulators were analyzed by western blotting. The pcDNA3.1(+)-ARHI group exhibited higher expression levels of p53, p21 and p27, and lower levels of cyclin D1, CDK4 and CDK6 when compared to the control group (P<0.05). For the TSA+DAC group, higher levels of p53, p21, cyclin B1 and Chk1 were detected, concomitant with lower levels of CDK1, when compared to the control group. Taken together, these results suggest that ARHI acts as a tumor suppressor gene in MDA-MB-231 cells and, although TSA+DAC can block the cells at different cell cycle phage, the antitumor effect is ARHI-dependent.