Epigenetic silencing of S100A2 in bladder and head and neck cancers

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100A2, a member of the S100 protein family, is known to be downregulated in a number of human cancers, leading to its designation as a potential tumor suppressor gene. Here, we investigated the expression and methylation status of S100A2 in head&neck and bladder cancer. Reduced mRNA and protein expression was observed in 8 head&neck and bladder cancer cell lines. To explore the mechanism responsible for the downregulation of S100A2, we treated six cell lines with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. We found S100A2 is silenced in association with aberrant promoter-region methylation and its expression is restored with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine treatment. Of 31 primary head&neck cancer cases and 31 bladder cancer cases, promoter methylation was detected in 90% and 80% of cases, respectively. Interestingly, only 1/9 of normal head&neck tissues and 2/6 of normal bladder tissues showed promoter methylation. S100A2 promoter methylation can be detected in urine and is more frequent in bladder cancer patients than in healthy subjects (96% vs 48% respectively). Moreover, increased methylation of S100A2 is linked to the progression of the tumor in bladder cancer (p<0.01). Together, this data shows that methylation-associated inactivation of S100A2 is frequent and may be an important event in the tumorigenesis of head&neck and bladder cancer.

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