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Abstract

Sirtuins are nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide oxidized form (NAD+)-dependent deacetylases and function in cellular metabolism, stress resistance, and aging. For sirtuin7 (SIRT7), a role in ribosomal gene transcription is proposed, but its function in cancer has been unclear. In this study we show that SIRT7 expression was up-regulated in a large cohort of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. SIRT7 knockdown influenced the cell cycle and caused a significant increase of liver cancer cells to remain in the G1/S phase and to suppress growth. This treatment restored p21WAF1/Cip1, induced Beclin-1, and repressed cyclin D1. In addition, sustained suppression of SIRT7 reduced the in vivo tumor growth rate in a mouse xenograft model. To explore mechanisms in SIRT7 regulation, microRNA (miRNA) profiling was carried out. This identified five significantly down-regulated miRNAs in HCC. Bioinformatics analysis of target sites and ectopic expression in HCC cells showed that miR-125a-5p and miR-125b suppressed SIRT7 and cyclin D1 expression and induced p21WAF1/Cip1-dependent G1 cell cycle arrest. Furthermore, treatment of HCC cells with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine or ectopic expression of wildtype but not mutated p53 restored miR-125a-5p and miR-125b expression and inhibited tumor cell growth, suggesting their regulation by promoter methylation and p53 activity. To show the clinical significance of these findings, mutations in the DNA binding domain of p53 and promoter methylation of miR-125b were investigated. Four out of nine patients with induced SIRT7 carried mutations in the p53 gene and one patient showed hypermethylation of the miR-125b promoter region. Conclusion: Our findings suggest the oncogenic potential of SIRT7 in hepatocarcinogenesis. A regulatory loop is proposed whereby SIRT7 inhibits transcriptional activation of p21WAF1/Cip1 by way of repression of miR-125a-5p and miR-125b. This makes SIRT7 a promising target in cancer therapy. (HEPATOLOGY 2013)