Wada M, Yazumi S, Takaishi S, Hasegawa K, Sawada M, Tanaka H, Ida H, Sakakura C, Ito K, Ito Y, Chiba T.
RUNX3, a Runt domain transcription factor involved in TGF-beta signaling, is a candidate tumor-suppressor gene localized in 1p36, a region commonly deleted in a wide variety of human tumors, including those of the stomach, bile duct, and pancreas. Recently, frequent inactivation of RUNX3 has been demonstrated in human gastric carcinomas. In this study, to examine the involvement of RUNX3 abnormalities in tumorigenesis of bile duct as well as pancreatic cancers, we investigated not only the expression but also methylation status of RUNX3 in 10 human bile duct and 12 pancreatic cancer cell lines. Seven (70%) of the bile duct and nine (75%) of the pancreatic cancer cell lines exhibited no expression of RUNX3 by both Northern blot analysis and the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. All of the 16 cell lines that did not express RUNX3 also showed methylation of the promoter CpG island of the gene, whereas the six cell lines that showed RUNX3 expression were not methylated or only partially methylated in the RUNX3 promoter region. Moreover, treatment with the methylation inhibitor 5'-aza-2'-deoxycitidine activated RUNX3 mRNA expression in all of 16 cancer cell lines that originally lacked RUNX3 expression. Finally, hemizygous deletion of RUNX3, as detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization, was found in 15 of the 16 cancer cell lines that lacked RUNX3 expression. These data suggest that the inactivation of RUNX3 plays an important role in bile duct and pancreatic carcinogenesis, and that methylation is a common mechanism by which the gene is inactivated.