Epigenetically induced changes in nuclear textural patterns and gelatinase expression in human fibrosarcoma cells

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Chromatin texture patterns of tumour cell nuclei can serve as cancer biomarkers, either to define diagnostic classifications or to obtain relevant prognostic information, in a large number of human tumours. Epigenetic mechanisms, mainly DNA methylation and histone post-translational modification, have been shown to influence chromatin packing states, and therefore nuclear texture. The aim of this study was to analyse effects of these two mechanisms on chromatin texture, and also on correlation with gelatinase expression, in human fibrosarcoma tumour cells.

Materials and methods

We investigated effects of DNA hypomethylating agent 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-azadC) and histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) on nuclear textural characteristics of human HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells, evaluated by image cytometry, and expression of gelatinases MMP-2 and MMP-9, two metalloproteinases implicated in cancer progression and metastasis.


5-azadC induced significant variation in chromatin higher order organization, particularly chromatin decondensation, associated with reduction in global DNA methylation, concomitantly with increase in MMP-9, and to a lesser extent, MMP-2 expression. TSA alone did not have any effect on HT1080 cells, but exhibited differential activity when added to cells treated with 5-azadC. When treated with both drugs, nuclei had higher texture abnormalities. In this setting, reduction in MMP-9 expression was observed, whereas MMP-2 expression remained unaffected.


These data show that hypomethylating drug 5-azadC and histone deacetylase inhibitor TSA were able to induce modulation of higher order chromatin organization and gelatinase expression in human HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells.

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