Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a transcription factor that can have divergent functions in different malignancies. The expression and role of KLF4 in renal cell cancer remain unclear. The purpose of this study is to determine epigenetic alterations and possible roles of KLF4 in renal cell carcinoma. The KLF4 expression in primary renal cell cancer tissues and case-matched normal renal tissues was determined by protein and messenger RNA analyses. The epigenetic alterations were detected by methylation- specific PCR and Sequenom MassARRAY. Kaplan-Meier curves and the log-rank test were used for the survival analysis. The effects of KLF4 on cell growth and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were determined in renal cancer cell lines after viral-based and RNA activation-mediated overexpression of KLF4. In vivo antitumor activity of KLF4 was evaluated by using stably KLF4-transfected renal cancer cells. KLF4 expression was dramatically decreased in various pathological types of renal cancer and associated with poor survival after nephrectomy. Hypermethylation of KLF4 promoter mainly contributed to its expression suppression. In vitro assays indicated that KLF4 overexpression inhibited renal cancer cell growth and survival. KLF4 overexpression also suppressed renal cancer cell migration and invasion by altering the EMT-related factors. In vivo assay showed that ectopic expression of KLF4 also inhibited tumorigenicity and metastasis of renal cancer. Our results suggest that KLF4 is a putative tumor suppressor gene epigenetically silenced in renal cell cancers by promoter CpG methylation and that it has prognostic value for renal cell progression.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
National Natural Science Foundation of China (31072238, 31172441, 81170650, 81173608 and 81101944) and National Major Scientific and Technological Special Project for Significant New Drugs Development (2012ZX09303018). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.