Apoptotic resistance is often associated with metastatic phenotype in tumor cells and is considered a hallmark of tumor progression. In this study, IFN regulatory factor 8 (IRF8) expression was found to be inversely correlated with an apoptotic-resistant and metastatic phenotype in human colon carcinoma cell lines in vitro. This inverse correlation was further extended to spontaneously arising primary mammary carcinoma and lung metastases in a mouse tumor model in vivo. Exogenous expression of IRF8 in the metastatic tumor cell line restored, at least partially, the sensitivity of the tumor cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis, and disruption of IRF8 function conferred the poorly metastatic tumors with enhanced apoptotic resistance and metastatic capability. DNA demethylation restored IRF8 expression and sensitized the metastatic tumor cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis. Analysis of genomic DNA isolated from both primary and metastatic tumor cells with methylation-sensitive PCR revealed hypermethylation of the IRF8 promoter in metastatic tumor cells but not in primary tumor cells. Taken together, our data suggest that IRF8 is both an essential regulator in Fas-mediated apoptosis pathway and a metastasis suppressor in solid tumors and that metastatic tumor cells use DNA hypermethylation to repress IRF8 expression to evade apoptotic cell death and to acquire a metastatic phenotype.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research