Transcriptional Silencing of the Wnt-Antagonist DKK1 by Promoter Methylation Is Associated with Enhanced Wnt Signaling in Advanced Multiple Myeloma

Kinga A. Kocemba, Richard W. J. Groen, Harmen van Andel, Marie José Kersten, Karène Mahtouk, Marcel Spaargaren, Steven T. Pals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The Wnt/beta-catenin pathway plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of various human cancers. In multiple myeloma (MM), aberrant auto-and/or paracrine activation of canonical Wnt signaling promotes proliferation and dissemination, while overexpression of the Wnt inhibitor Dickkopf1 (DKK1) by MM cells contributes to osteolytic bone disease by inhibiting osteoblast differentiation. Since DKK1 itself is a target of TCF/beta-catenin mediated transcription, these findings suggest that DKK1 is part of a negative feedback loop in MM and may act as a tumor suppressor. In line with this hypothesis, we show here that DKK1 expression is low or undetectable in a subset of patients with advanced MM as well as in MM cell lines. This absence of DKK1 is correlated with enhanced Wnt pathway activation, evidenced by nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin, which in turn can be antagonized by restoring DKK1 expression. Analysis of the DKK1 promoter revealed CpG island methylation in several MM cell lines as well as in MM cells from patients with advanced MM. Moreover, demethylation of the DKK1 promoter restores DKK1 expression, which results in inhibition of beta-catenin/TCF-mediated gene transcription in MM lines. Taken together, our data identify aberrant methylation of the DKK1 promoter as a cause of DKK1 silencing in advanced stage MM, which may play an important role in the progression of MM by unleashing Wnt signaling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e30359
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Azacitidine/pharmacology
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Marrow/drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Methylation/drug effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Silencing/drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multiple Myeloma/genetics
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic/drug effects
  • Wnt Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway/drug effects

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