16 August 2018
Hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor type 2 ( HAI‐2), encoded by the SPINT2 gene, is a membrane‐anchored protein that inhibits proteases involved in the activation of hepatocyte growth factor ( HGF), a ligand of MET receptor. Epigenetic silencing of the SPINT2 gene has been reported in a human glioblastoma cell line (U87) and glioblastoma‐derived cancer stem cells. However, the incidence of SPINT2 methylation in tumor tissues obtained from glioma patients is unknown. In this study, we analyzed the methylation status of the SPINT2 gene of eight human glioblastoma cell lines and surgically resected glioma tissues of different grades ( II, III, and IV) by bisulfite sequence analysis and methylation‐specific PCR. Most glioblastoma lines (7/8) showed methylation of the SPINT2 gene with a significantly reduced level of SPINT2 mRNA compared to cultured astrocytes and normal brain tissues. However, all glioblastoma lines expressed mRNA for HGF activator ( HGFAC ), a target protease of HAI‐2/ SPINT2. Forced expression of SPINT2 reduced MET phosphorylation of U87 glioblastoma cells both in vitro and in intracranial xenografts in nude mice. Methylation‐specific PCR analysis of the resected glioma tissues indicated notable methylation of the SPINT2 gene in 33.3% (2/6), 71.4% (10/14), and 74.3% (26/35) of grade II, III, and IV gliomas, respectively. Analysis of RNA sequencing data in a public database indicated an increased HGFAC / SPINT2 expression ratio in high‐grade compared to low‐grade gliomas ( P = .01). In summary, aberrant methylation of the SPINT2 gene is frequently observed in high‐grade gliomas and might confer MET signaling in the glioma cells.