DOI: 10.3390/md21120621 ISSN: 1660-3397

Ectoine Globally Hypomethylates DNA in Skin Cells and Suppresses Cancer Proliferation

Majjid A. Qaria, Chunyan Xu, Ran Hu, Roua A. Alsubki, Mohamed Yassin Ali, Sethupathy Sivasamy, Kotb A. Attia, Daochen Zhu
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmaceutical Science

Epigenetic modifications, mainly aberrant DNA methylation, have been shown to silence the expression of genes involved in epigenetic diseases, including cancer suppression genes. Almost all conventional cancer therapeutic agents, such as the DNA hypomethylation drug 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, have insurmountable side effects. To investigate the role of the well-known DNA protectant (ectoine) in skin cell DNA methylation and cancer cell proliferation, comprehensive methylome sequence analysis, 5-methyl cytosine (5mC) analysis, proliferation and tumorigenicity assays, and DNA epigenetic modifications-related gene analysis were performed. The results showed that extended ectoine treatment globally hypomethylated DNA in skin cells, especially in the CpG island (CGIs) element, and 5mC percentage was significantly reduced. Moreover, ectoine mildly inhibited skin cell proliferation and did not induce tumorigenicity in HaCaT cells injected into athymic nude mice. HaCaT cells treated with ectoine for 24 weeks modulated the mRNA expression levels of Dnmt1, Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b, Dnmt3l, Hdac1, Hdac2, Kdm3a, Mettl3, Mettl14, Snrpn, and Mest. Overall, ectoine mildly demethylates DNA in skin cells, modulates the expression of epigenetic modification-related genes, and reduces cell proliferation. This evidence suggests that ectoine is a potential anti-aging agent that prevents DNA hypermethylation and subsequently activates cancer-suppressing genes.

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