Thymoquinone-Induced Reactivation of Tumor Suppressor Genes in Cancer Cells Involves Epigenetic Mechanisms.
Epigenet Insights. 2019 ;12:2516865719839011. Epub 2019 Apr 4. PMID: 31058255
Shahad A Qadi
The epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) is a common finding in several solid and hematological tumors involving various epigenetic readers and writers leading to enhanced cell proliferation and defective apoptosis. Thymoquinone (TQ), the major biologically active compound of black seed oil, has demonstrated anticancer activities in various tumors by targeting several pathways. However, its effects on the epigenetic code of cancer cells are largely unknown. In the present study, we performed RNA sequencing to investigate the anticancer mechanisms of TQ-treated T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell line (Jurkat cells) and examined gene expression using different tools. We found that many key epigenetic players, including ubiquitin-like containing plant homeodomain (PHD) and really interesting new gene (RING) finger domains 1 (, and, were downregulated in TQ-treated Jurkat cells. Interestingly, several TSGs, such as, and, known to be epigenetically silenced in various tumors, including acute leukemia, were upregulated, along with the upregulation of several downstream pro-apoptotic genes, such as, and. Data obtained from RNA sequencing were confirmed using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) in Jurkat cells, as well as in a human breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB-468 cells). We found that the decrease in cell proliferation and in the expression of, andgenes in both cancer cell (Jurkat cells and MDA-MB-468 cells) lines depends on the TQ dose. Our results indicate that the use of TQ as an epigenetic drug represents a promising strategy for epigenetic therapy for both solid and blood tumors by targeting both DNA methylation and histone post-translational modifications.