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Invasion and metastasis are two important hallmarks of malignant tumors caused by complex genetic and epigenetic alterations. The present study investigated the contribution of aberrant methylation profiles of cancer related genes, APC, BIN1, BMP6, BRCA1, CST6, ESR-b, GSTP1, P14 (ARF), P16 (CDKN2A), P21 (CDKN1A), PTEN, and TIMP3, in the matched axillary lymph node metastasis in comparison to the primary tumor tissue and the adjacent normal tissue from the same breast cancer patients to identify the potential of candidate genes methylation as metastatic markers.
The quantitative methylation analysis was performed using the SEQUENOM’s EpiTYPER™ assay which relies on matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS).
The quantitative DNA methylation analysis of the candidate genes showed higher methylation proportion in the primary tumor tissue than that of the matched normal tissue and the differences were significant for the APC, BIN1, BMP6, BRCA1, CST6, ESR-b, P16, PTEN and TIMP3 promoter regions (P<0.05). Among those candidate methylated genes, APC, BMP6, BRCA1 and P16 displayed higher methylation proportion in the matched lymph node metastasis than that found in the normal tissue (P<0.05). The pathway analysis revealed that BMP6, BRCA1 and P16 have a role in prevention of neoplasm metastasis.
The results of the present study showed methylation heterogeneity between primary tumors and metastatic lesion. The contribution of aberrant methylation alterations of BMP6, BRCA1 and P16 genes in lymph node metastasis might provide a further clue to establish useful biomarkers for screening metastasis.