Investigation the Cytotoxicity of 5-AZA on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cell Line In Vitro and Characterization the Underlying Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Death and Motility

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Student Research Committee, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

2 Department of Immunology, Division of Hematology, Faculty of Medicine, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

3 Department of Cancer and Inflammation Research, Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

4 Department of Medical Genetic, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

5 Molecular Medicine Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.


DNA methylation is a reversible biochemical process determinant of gene expression that is frequently observed in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This is believed to arise from aberrant DNA methyltransferase activity establishing abnormal levels of DNA methylation in tumor cells. DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-azacytidine (5-AZA), is a clinically used epigenetic drug which induces promoter demethylation and gene re-expression in human cancers. In this study, we investigated the cytotoxicity of on MOLT4 and Jurkat leukemic cell line in vitro and characterized the underlying molecular mechanisms of cell death and motility. MOLT4 and Jurkat cells were treated with 5-AZA for 12, 24 and 48 hours. The effect of the 5-AZA treatment on cell viability (MTT assay), apoptosis (annexin V/PI staining), microRNA (miRNA) and mRNA expression (real-time PCR) was measured. The results showed that 5-AZA could induce MOLT4 and Jurkat apoptotic cell death in vitro in a time-dependent manner and probably via apoptotic mechanisms. We found that treatment with 5-AZA could increase the expression of epigenetically silenced miRNAs, miR-34a, miR-34b and miR-124-1 in treated cells. In addition, mRNA analyses demonstrated that MOLT4 and jurkat cells, expressed p53 gene more than 10-fold higher compared with untreated cells in three independent experiments while the cells suppressed the expression of a subset of functionally related genes including MYC, BCL2, APEX, SIRT1, SNAIL1 and vimentin to some extent, following 5-AZA treatment. We found that a miRNAs expression level in treated cell lines was closely correlated to the expression of their target genes. Together, these findings suggest that 5-AZA may affect the viability of MOLT4 and jurkat cells, at least in part, by regulating the transcription of genes that are associated with cellular apoptotic response.


Main Subjects

Volume 22, Issue 11
November 2021
Pages 3723-3734
  • Receive Date: 21 February 2021
  • Revise Date: 26 July 2021
  • Accept Date: 18 September 2021
  • First Publish Date: 01 November 2021