Tropomyosins (TMs) are a family of cytoskeletal proteins that bind to and stabilize actin microfilaments. Non-muscle cells express multiple isoforms of TMs including three high molecular weight (HMW) isoforms: TM1, TM2, and TM3. While reports have indicated downregulation of TMs in transformed cells and several human cancers, nevertheless, little is known about the underlying mechanism of TMs suppression. In present study the expression of HMW TMs was investigated in squamous cell carcinoma of esophagus (SCCE), relative to primary cell cultures of normal esophagus by western blotting and real-time RT-PCR. Our results showed that TM1, TM2, and TM3 were significantly downregulated in cell line of SCCE. Moreover, mRNA level of TPM1 and TPM2 were markedly decreased by 93% and 96%, in tumor cell line relative to esophagus normal epithelial cells. Therefore, downregulation of TMs could play an important role in tumorigenesis of esophageal cancer. To asses the mechanism of TM downregulation in esophageal cancer, the role of Ras dependent signaling and promoter hypermethylation were investigated. We found that inhibition of two Ras effectory downstream pathways; MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt leads to significant increased expression of TM1 protein and both TPM1 and TPM2 mRNAs. In addition, methyltransferase inhibition significantly upregulated TM1, suggesting the prominent contribution of promoter hypermethylation in TM1 downregulation in esophageal cancer. These data indicate that downregulation of HMW TMs occurs basically in SCCE and the activation of MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt pathways as well as the epigenetic mechanism of promoter hypermethylation play important role in TM1 suppression in SCCE. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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