ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF)-like 4c (ARL4C) expression, induced by a combination of Wnt/β-catenin and EGF/Ras signaling, has been demonstrated to form epithelial morphogenesis. ARL4C overexpression, due to Wnt/β-catenin and EGF/Ras signaling alterations, was involved in tumorigenesis. It was also reported that ARL4C expression correlates with DNA hypomethylation in the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of ARL4C gene during lymphogenesis. The current study was conducted to investigate the expression and functions of ARL4C due to DNA hypomethylation in lung and tongue cancers. Immunohistochemical analyses of tissue specimens obtained from lung and tongue squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) patients revealed that ARL4C is not observed in non-tumor regions, but is strongly expressed at high frequencies in tumor lesions. Although inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin or Ras/MAP kinase signaling did not decrease ARL4C expression in NCI-H520 lung SCC cells, ARL4C DNA was clearly hypomethylated in the 3'-UTR. Ten-eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase (TET) enzyme, which mediates DNA demethylation, was highly expressed in NCI-H520 cells. Knockout of TET family proteins (TET1-3) in NCI-H520 cells reduced 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) levels and promoted DNA methylation in the 3'-UTR, leading to the decrease in ARL4C expression and ARL4C-mediated cellular migration. In tumor lesions of ARL4C-positive lung SCC, 5hmC was frequently detected and DNA methylation in the 3'-UTR of ARL4C gene was lower than in non-tumor regions, which were consistent with the Cancer Genome Atlas dataset. These results suggest that ARL4C is expressed due to hypomethylation in the 3'-UTR for certain types of cancers and that ARL4C methylation status is involved in cancer cell function.
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