Inhibition of DNA methylation promotes breast tumor sensitivity to netrin-1 interference


In a number of human cancers, NTN1 upregulation inhibits apoptosis induced by its so-called dependence receptors DCC and UNC5H, thus promoting tumor progression. In other cancers however, the selective inhibition of this dependence receptor death pathway relies on the silencing of pro-apoptotic effector proteins. We show here that a substantial fraction of human breast tumors exhibits simultaneous DNA methylation-dependent loss of expression of NTN1 and of DAPK1, a serine threonine kinase known to transduce the netrin-1 dependence receptor pro-apoptotic pathway. The inhibition of DNA methylation by drugs such as decitabine restores the expression of both NTN1 and DAPK1 in netrin-1-low cancer cells. Furthermore, a combination of decitabine with NTN1 silencing strategies or with an anti-netrin-1 neutralizing antibody potentiates tumor cell death and efficiently blocks tumor growth in different animal models. Thus, combining DNA methylation inhibitors with netrin-1 neutralizing agents may be a valuable strategy for combating cancer.

In: EMBO molecular medicine, (8), 8, pp. 863–877,