Open Access Research

Nidogen 1 and 2 gene promoters are aberrantly methylated in human gastrointestinal cancer

Linda Ulazzi1, Silvia Sabbioni1, Elena Miotto1, Angelo Veronese1, Angela Angusti2, Roberta Gafà1, Stefano Manfredini2, Fabio Farinati3, Takako Sasaki4, Giovanni Lanza1 and Massimo Negrini1*

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Diagnostica e Centro Interdipartimentale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Università di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche, Università di Ferrara, Italy

3 Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche e Gastroenterologia, Università di Padova, Italy

4 Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany

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Molecular Cancer 2007, 6:17  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-6-17

Published: 28 February 2007



Nidogens are highly conserved proteins of basement membranes. Two nidogen proteins, nidogen 1 and nidogen 2, are known in mammals.


We show that CpG islands of both NID1 and NID2 genes are aberrantly methylated in human cancer samples and cancer cell lines. For both genes, methylation was correlated with loss of gene transcription in human cell lines. Furthermore, demethylation of the NID1 and NID2 promoters restored gene transcription, demonstrating that methylation was responsible for silencing nidogen genes. In primary tumors, we detected NID1 promoter methylation in 67% of colon cancer samples and in 90% of gastric cancers. NID2 promoter was methylated in 29% of colon and 95% of gastric cancers. Immuno-staining for nidogen-2 confirmed the correlation between aberrant methylation and loss of nidogen expression also in primary tumors, implying that aberrant methylation was a mechanism for inhibiting nidogens expression in human gastrointestinal tumors.


These results suggest that loss of nidogens expression has a potential pathogenetic role in colon and stomach tumorigenesis. Nidogens are believed to connect laminin and collagen IV networks, hence stabilizing the basement membrane structure. Nidogens are also important for cell adhesion, as they establish contacts with various cellular integrins. Loss of nidogen expression may favor invasion and metastasis of cancer cells by loosening cell interaction with basal membrane and by weakening the strength of the basement membrane itself, first barrier from the connective vascularized matrix.