Aberrant DNA methylation patterns are a common theme across all cancer types. Specific DNA demethylation of regulatory sequences can result in upregulation of genes that are critical for tumor development and progression. Integrin α6β4 is highly expressed in pancreatic carcinoma and contributes to cancer progression, in part, through the specific DNA demethylation and upregulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligands amphiregulin (AREG) and epiregulin (EREG). Whole genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) revealed that integrin α6β4 signaling promotes an overall hypomethylated state and site specific DNA demethylation of enhancer elements within the proximal promoters of AREG and EREG. Additionally, we find that the base excision repair (BER) pathway is required to maintain expression of AREG and EREG, as blocking DNA repair molecules, TET1 GADD45A, TDG, or PARP-1 decreased gene expression. Likewise, we provide the novel finding that integrin α6β4 confers an enhanced ability on cells to repair DNA lesions and survive insult. Therefore, while many known signaling functions mediated by integrin α6β4 that promote invasive properties have been established, this study demonstrates that integrin α6β4 can dramatically impact the epigenome of cancer cells, direct global DNA methylation levels toward a hypomethylated state, and impact DNA repair and subsequent cell survival.
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This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grants T32 CA165990 (BLC), R21 CA178753 (LQ, CW and KLO) and P30 CA177558 (JL) as well as the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource Facility of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center (P30 CA177558).
Supplementary information accompanies this paper at doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06351-4
Carpenter, Brittany L.; Liu, Jinpeng; Qi, Lei; Wang, Chi; and O'Connor, Kathleen L., "Integrin α6β4 Upregulates Amphiregulin and Epiregulin Through Base Excision Repair-Mediated DNA Demethylation and Promotes Genome-Wide DNA Hypomethylation" (2017). Markey Cancer Center Faculty Publications. 92.