Regulation of AURKC expression by CpG island methylation in human cancer cells

Satoshi Fujii, Vibhuti Srivastava, Apurva Hegde, Yutaka Kondo, Lanlan Shen, Koyu Hoshino, Yvette Gonzalez, Jin Wang, Kaori Sasai, Xiaotu Ma, Hiroshi Katayama, Marcos R. Estecio, Stanley R. Hamilton, Ignacio Wistuba, Jean Pierre J. Issa, Subrata Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


AURKC, a member of the Aurora kinase gene family, is highly expressed in testis but is either moderately expressed or repressed in most somatic cells. Varying expression of AURKC has been observed in human cancers, but the underlying mechanisms of differential expression have been investigated only to a limited extent. We investigated the role of promoter CpG methylation in the regulation of AURKC gene expression in human cancer cells, in relation to a recently reported AURKC transcription repressor PLZF/ZBTB16, implicated in transformation and tumorigenesis. AURKC and PLZF/ZBTB16 expression profiles were investigated in reference to CpG methylation status on the AURKC promoter experimentally, and also in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset involving multiple cancer types. AURKC promoter showed dense to moderate hypermethylation correlating with low to moderate expression of the gene in normal somatic cells and cancer cell lines, while testis with high expression revealed marked hypo-methylation. Treatment with the demethylating agent, 5-aza-dC, but not the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, TSA, led to elevated expression in cancer cell lines, indicating that promoter DNA methylation negatively regulates AURKC expression. High expression of PLZF in PLZF-transfected cells treated with 5-aza-dC only partially repressed expression of AURKC despite 5-aza-dC also inducing elevated PLZF expression. Analyses of the TCGA data showed differential expression of AURKC in multiple cancer types and stronger correlation of AURKC expression with CpG methylation compared to PLZF levels. These findings demonstrate that differential promoter CpG methylation is an important mechanism regulating AURKC expression in cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8147-8158
Number of pages12
JournalTumor Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2015


  • Aurora kinase-C
  • Cell lines
  • Colon adenocarcinoma
  • CpG methylation
  • Epigenetic
  • PLZF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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