Clemens Zwergel, Sergio Valente and Antonello Mai Pages 680 - 696 ( 17 )
DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) catalyze the methylation at cytosine-C5 mainly in a CpG dinucleotide context. Although DNA methylation is essential for fundamental processes like embryonic development or differentiation, aberrant expression and/or activities of DNMTs are involved in several pathologies, from neurodegeneration to cancer. DNMTs inhibition can arrest tumor growth, cells invasiveness and induce differentiation, whereas their increased expression is shown in numerous cancer types. Moreover, hypermethylated promoters of tumor suppressor genes lead to their silencing. Hence, the use of specific inhibitors of DNMT might reactivate those genes and stop or even reverse the aberrant cell processes. To date, the only approved DNMTs inhibitors for therapy belong to the nucleoside-based family of drugs, but they display relevant side effects as well as high chemical instability. Thus, there is a keen interest actually exists to develop novel, potent and safe inhibitors possessing a nonnucleoside structure. Increasing literature evidence is highlighting that natural sources could help the researchers to achieve this goal. Indeed, several polyphenols, flavonoids, antraquinones, and others are described able to inhibit DNMTs activity and/or expression, thus decreasing the methylation/silencing of different genes involved in tumorigenesis. These events can lead to re-expression of such genes and to cell death in diverse cancer cell lines. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (1) and laccaic acid A (11) resulted the most effective DNMT1 inhibitors with submicromolar IC50 values, acting as competitive inhibitors. Compound 1 and 11 both displayed gene demethylation and re-activation in several cancers. However, all of the natural compounds described in this review showed important results, from gene reactivation to cell growth inhibition. Moreover, some of them displayed interesting activity even in rodent cancer models and very recently entered clinical trials .
Cancer, Chromatin, DNA-methyltransferases, Epigenetics, Gene expression, Inhibitors, Natural compounds.
Department of Drug Chemistry and Technologies, Sapienza University of Rome, P.le A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.