Epigenetic mechanisms regulate the prostaglandin e receptor 2 in breast cancer

Sarah Q. To, Kiyoshi Takagi, Yasuhiro Miki, Koyu Suzuki, Eriko Abe, Yang Yang, Hironobu Sasano, Evan R. Simpson, Kevin C. Knower, Colin D. Clyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The increase in local oestrogen production seen in oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancers is driven by increased activity of the aromatase enzyme. CYP19A1, the encoding gene for aromatase, is often overexpressed in the oestrogen-producing cells of the breast adipose fibroblasts (BAFs) surrounding an ER+ tumour, and the molecular processes underlying this upregulation is important in the development of breast-specific aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer therapy. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a factor secreted by tumours, is known to stimulate CYP19A1 expression in human BAFs. The hormonal regulation of this process has been examined; however, what is less well understood is the emerging role of epigenetic mechanisms and how they modulate PGE2 signalling. This present study characterises the epigenetic processes underlying expression of the prostanoid receptor EP2 in the context of ER+ breast cancer. Sodium bisulphite sequencing of CpG methylation within the promoter region of EP2 revealed that an inverse correlation existed between methylation levels and relative EP2 expression in breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-231, MCF7 and MCF10A but not in HS578t and T47D. Inhibition of DNA methylation with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5aza) and histone deacetylation with Trichostatin A (TSA) resulted in upregulation of EP2 mRNA in all cell lines with varying influences of each epigenetic process observed. Expression of EP2 was detected in human BAFs despite a natively methylated promoter, and this expression was further increased upon 5aza treatment. An examination of 3 triple negative, 3 ductal carcinoma in situ and 3 invasive ductal carcinoma samples revealed that there was no change in EP2 promoter methylation status between normal and cancer associated stroma, despite observed differences in relative mRNA levels. Although EP2 methylation status is inversely correlated to expression levels in established breast cancer cell lines, we could not identify that such a correlation existed in tumour-associated stroma cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov


  • Aromatase
  • Breast cancer
  • DNA methylation
  • EP2
  • Epigenetics


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