Direct monitoring of breast and endometrial cancer cell epigenetic response to DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase inhibitors

S. R. Teixeira, C. M. Abreu, L. Parkes, J. Davies, S. Yao, M. A. Sawhney, L. Margarit, D. Gonzalez, I. Mendes Pinto, L. W. Francis, R. S. Conlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


DNA methylation and histone deacetylation are key epigenetic processes involved in normal cellular function and tumorigenesis. Therapeutic strategies based on DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors are currently in use and under development for the treatment of cancers. Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling has been proposed for use in disease diagnosis, and histone modification profiling for disease stratification will follow suit. However, whether epigenome sequencing technologies will be feasible for rapid clinic diagnosis and patient treatment monitoring remains to be seen, and alternative detection technologies will almost certainly be needed. Here we used electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) employing a graphene-based screen-printed electrode system to directly measure global DNA methylation and histone H3 acetylation to compare non-cancer and breast cancer cell lines. We demonstrated that whilst global methylation was not useful as a differential marker in the cellular systems tested, histone H3 acetylation was effective at higher chromatin levels. Using breast and endometrial cancer cell models, EIS was then used to monitor cellular responses to the DNMT and HDAC inhibitors 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid in vitro, and proved very effective at detecting global cellular responses to either treatment, indicating that this approach could be useful in following treatment response to epigenetic drugs. Moreover, this work reports the first combined analysis of two epigenetic markers using a unified graphene-based biosensor platform, demonstrating the potential for multiplex analysis of both methylation and acetylation on the same sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111386
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - Sep 15 2019


  • Cancer cell lines
  • DNA methylation
  • EIS
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone acetylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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