Comparison of responses of human melanoma cell lines to MEK and BRAF inhibitors
In the human placenta, DNA hypomethylation permits the expression of retrotransposon-derived genes that are normally silenced by methylation in somatic tissues. We previously identified hypomethylation of a retrotransposon-derived transcript of the voltage-gated potassium channel gene KCNH5 that is expressed only in human placenta. However, an RNA sequence from this placental-specific transcript has been reported in melanoma. This study examined the promoter methylation and expression of the retrotransposon-derived KCNH5 transcript in 25 melanoma cell lines to determine whether the acquisition of 'placental' epigenetic marks is a feature of melanoma. Methylation and gene expression analysis revealed hypomethylation of this retrotransposon in melanoma cell lines, particularly in those samples that express the placental KCNH5 transcript. Therefore we propose that hypomethylation of the placental-specific KCNH5 promoter is frequently associated with KCNH5 expression in melanoma cells. Our findings show that melanoma can develop hypomethylation of a retrotransposon-derived gene; a characteristic notably shared with the normal placenta.