6-thioguanine (6-TG) is one of the thiopurine drugs with successful use in oncology, especially for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). 6-TG is proposed to act as an epigenetic drug affecting DNA methylation. The aim of this study was to clarify the effect of 6-TG on the proliferation, viability and expression of genes coding for the enzymes DNA methyltransferase 3A and DNA methyltransferase 3B (DNMTs) as well as histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) in the human B cell-ALL cell line Nalm6.
In this experimental study, Nalm6 cells and also normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were grown in RPMI 1640 medium containing 10% fetal bovine serum. They were then treated with 6-TG at their exponential growth phase. Cell viability was monitored using the Cell Counting Kit-8 assay with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) reader. The expressions of the above-mentioned 3 genes were quantified using real-time PCR.
6-TG could inhibit the proliferation of Nalm6 cells and decrease their viability. In Nalm6 cells, as compared to normal PBMCs, 6-TG significantly decreased HDAC3 (p = 0.008) as well as DNMT3B (p = 0.003) gene expressions, but increased the expression of DNMT3A gene (p = 0.02) after normalization to GAPDH, as the housekeeping gene.
These findings suggested that the altered expression of DNMT3A, DNMT3B and HDAC3 genes was responsible for at least part of the antitumoral properties of 6-TG, providing an insight into mechanism of its action as an epigenetic drug.
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