Epigenetic regulation of tumor endothelial cell anergy: silencing of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 by histone modifications.

D.M.E.I. Hellebrekers, K.E.R. Castermans, Emmanuelle Vire, R.P.M. Dings, N.T.H. Hoebers, K H T. Mayo, M.G.A. Oude Egbrink, Grietje Molema, Francois Fuks, M. van Engeland, A.W. Griffioen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Tumors can escape from immunity by repressing leukocyte adhesion molecule expression on tumor endothelial cells and by rendering endothelial cells unresponsive to inflammatory activation. This endothelial cell anergy is induced by angiogenic growth factors and results in reduced leukocyte-vessel wall interactions, thereby attenuating infiltration of leukocytes into the tumor. This report describes a novel mechanism of endothelial cell anergy regulation. We recently reported that DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors have angiostatic activity. Here, we studied whether epigenetic mechanisms regulate this angiogenesis-mediated escape from immunity. We found that DNMT inhibitors 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and zebularine, as well as HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A, reexpressed intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on tumor-conditioned endothelial cells in vitro, resulting in restored leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion. In addition, treatment with DNMT or HDAC inhibitors in vivo also restored ICAM-1 expression on tumor endothelial cells from two different mouse tumor models. Furthermore, leukocyte-vessel wall interactions in mouse tumors were increased by these compounds, as measured by intravital microscopy, resulting in enhanced leukocyte infiltration. We show that ICAM-1 down-regulation in tumor endothelial cells is associated with ICAM-1 promoter histone H3 deacetylation and loss of histone H3 Lys(4) methylation but not with DNA hypermethylation. In conclusion, our data show that ICAM-1 is epigenetically silenced in tumor endothelial cells by promoter histone modifications, which can be overcome by DNMT and HDAC inhibitors, suggesting a new molecular mechanism based on which novel therapeutic approaches for cancer can be pursued.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10770-7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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