The human clusterin (CLU) gene codes for several mRNAs characterized by different sequences at their 5' end. We investigated the expression of two CLU mRNAs, called CLU 1 and CLU 2, in immortalized (PNT1a) and tumorigenic (PC3 and DU145) prostate epithelial cells, as well as in normal fetal fibroblasts (WI38) following the administration of the epigenetic drugs 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (AZDC) and trichostatin A (TSA) given either as single or combined treatment (AZDC-TSA). Our experimental evidences show that: a) CLU 1 is the most abundant transcript variant. b) CLU 2 is expressed at a low level in normal fibroblasts and virtually absent in prostate cancer cells. c) CLU 1, and to a greater extent CLU 2 expression, increased by AZDC-TSA treatment in prostate cancer cells. d) Both CLU 1 and CLU 2 encode for secreted CLU. e) P2, a novel promoter that overlaps the CLU 2 Transcription Start Site (TSS), drives CLU 2 expression. f) A CpG island, methylated in prostate cancer cells and not in normal fibroblasts, is responsible for long-term heritable regulation of CLU 1 expression. g) ChIP assay of histone tail modifications at CLU promoters (P1 and P2) shows that treatment of prostate cancer cells with AZDC-TSA causes enrichment of Histone3(Lys9)acetylated (H3K9ac) and reduction of Histone3(Lys27)trimethylated (H3K27me3), inducing active transcription of both CLU variants. In conclusion, we show for the first time that the expression of CLU 2 mRNA is driven by a novel promoter, P2, whose activity responds to epigenetic drugs treatment through changes in histone modifications.
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