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1.  Aberrant promoter methylation of multiple genes in sputum from individuals exposed to smoky coal emissions 
Anticancer research  2008;28(4B):2061-2066.
Aberrant methylation in the promoter region of cancer-related genes leads to gene transcriptional inactivation and plays an integral role in lung tumorigenesis. Recent studies demonstrated that promoter methylation was detected not only in lung tumors from patients with lung cancer but also in sputum of smokers without the disease, suggesting the potential for aberrant gene promoter methylation in sputum as a predictive marker for lung cancer. In the present study, we investigated promoter methylation of 4 genes frequently detected in lung tumors, including p16, MGMT, RASSF1A and DAPK genes, in sputum samples obtained from 107 individuals, including 34 never-smoking females and 73 mostly smoking males, who had no evidence of lung cancer but who were exposed to smoky coal emission in Xuan Wei County, China, where lung cancer rate is more than 6 times the Chinese national average rate. Forty nine of the individuals showed evidence of chronic bronchitis while the remaining 58 individuals showed no such a symptom. Promoter methylation of p16, MGMT, RASSF1A and DAPK was detected in 51.4% (55/107), 17.8% (19/107), 29.9% (32/107), and 15.9% (17/107) of the sputum samples from these individuals, respectively. There were no differences in promoter methylation frequencies of any of these genes according to smoking status or gender of the subjects or between individuals with chronic bronchitis and those without evidence of such a symptom. Therefore, individuals exposed to smoky coal emissions in this region harbored in their sputum frequent promoter methylation of these genes that have been previously found in lung tumors and implicated in lung cancer development.
PMCID: PMC2974317  PMID: 18751376
Smoky coal emissions; Gene promoter methylation; Lung cancer
2.  DNA Methylation in Tumor and Matched Normal Tissues from Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients 
We used MethyLight assays to analyze DNA methylation status of 27 genes on 49 paired cancerous and noncancerous tissue samples from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who underwent surgical resection. Seven genes (RARB, BVES, CDKN2A, KCNH5, RASSF1, CDH13, and RUNX) were found to be methylated significantly more frequently in tumor tissues than in noncancerous tissues. Only methylation of CCND2 and APC was frequently detected in both cancerous and noncancerous tissues, supporting the hypothesis that the methylation of these two genes is a preneoplastic change and may be associated with tobacco smoking exposure. Methylation of any one of eight genes (RASSF1, DAPK1, BVES, CDH13, MGMT, KCNH5, RARB, or CDH1) was present in 80% of NSCLC tissues but only in 14% of noncancerous tissues. Detection of methylation of these genes in blood might have utility in monitoring and detecting tumor recurrence in early-stage NSCLC after curative surgical resection.
PMCID: PMC2798850  PMID: 18349282
3.  Gene promoter methylation assayed in exhaled breath, with differences in smokers and lung cancer patients 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):86.
There is a need for new, noninvasive risk assessment tools for use in lung cancer population screening and prevention programs.
To investigate the technical feasibility of determining DNA methylation in exhaled breath condensate, we applied our previously-developed method for tag-adapted bisulfite genomic DNA sequencing (tBGS) for mapping of DNA methylation, and adapted it to exhaled breath condensate (EBC) from lung cancer cases and non-cancer controls. Promoter methylation patterns were analyzed in DAPK, RASSF1A and PAX5β promoters in EBC samples from 54 individuals, comprised of 37 controls [current- (n = 19), former- (n = 10), and never-smokers (n = 8)] and 17 lung cancer cases [current- (n = 5), former- (n = 11), and never-smokers (n = 1)].
We found: (1) Wide inter-individual variability in methylation density and spatial distribution for DAPK, PAX5β and RASSF1A. (2) Methylation patterns from paired exhaled breath condensate and mouth rinse specimens were completely divergent. (3) For smoking status, the methylation density of RASSF1A was statistically different (p = 0.0285); pair-wise comparisons showed that the former smokers had higher methylation density versus never smokers and current smokers (p = 0.019 and p = 0.031). For DAPK and PAX5β, there was no such significant smoking-related difference. Underlying lung disease did not impact on methylation density for this geneset. (4) In case-control comparisons, CpG at -63 of DAPK promoter and +52 of PAX5β promoter were significantly associated with lung cancer status (p = 0.0042 and 0.0093, respectively). After adjusting for multiple testing, both loci were of borderline significance (padj = 0.054 and 0.031). (5) The DAPK gene had a regional methylation pattern with two blocks (1)~-215~-113 and (2) -84 ~+26); while similar in block 1, there was a significant case-control difference in methylation density in block 2 (p = 0.045); (6)Tumor stage and histology did not impact on the methylation density among the cases. (7) The results of qMSP applied to EBC correlated with the corresponding tBGS sequencing map loci.
Our results show that DNA methylation in exhaled breath condensate is detectable and is likely of lung origin. Suggestive correlations with smoking and lung cancer case-control status depend on individual gene and CpG site examined.
PMCID: PMC2759916  PMID: 19781081
4.  Nuclear localisation and epigenetic inactivation of the ras effector/tumour suppressor RASSF2A in multiple human cancers 
Oncogene  2007;27(12):1805-1811.
RASSF2 is a recently identified member of a class of novel tumour suppressor genes, all containing a ras association domain. We previously demonstrated that the A isoform of RASSF2, is frequently inactivated by promoter region hypermethylation in colorectal tumours and adenomas, methylation was tumour specific and that expression in methylated tumour lines could be reactivated by treatment with 5-aza-2dc. RASSF2 resides at 20p13, this region has been demonstrated to be frequently lost in human cancers. In this report we investigated methylation status of the RASSF2A promoter CpG island in a series of breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). RASSF2A was frequently methylated in breast tumour cell lines 65% (13/20) and in primary breast tumours 38% (15/40). RASSF2A gene expression could be switched back on in methylated breast tumour cell lines after treatment with 5-aza-2dC, whilst unmethylated lines showed no difference in level of expression before and after 5-aza-2dC treatment. RASSF2A was also frequently methylated in NSCLC tumours 44% (22/50). Methylation in breast tumours and NSCLC was tumour specific. We did not detect RASSF2A methylation in ovarian tumours (0/17). Furthermore no mutations were found in the coding region of RASSF2A in these ovarian tumours.
RASSF2A suppressed breast tumour cell growth in vitro (through colony formation and soft agar assays) and in vivo. We identified a highly conserved putative bipartite nuclear localisation signal (NLS) between amino acids 151 and 167 in the RASSF2A sequence and demonstrated that endogenous RASSF2A localised to the nucleus. Mutation of the putative nuclear localisation signal abolished the nuclear localisation so RASSF2A became predominantly cytoplasmic. Our data indicates that RASSF2A is frequently methylated in colorectal, breast and NSCLC tumours, furthermore, the methylation is tumour specific. Hence we have identified RASSF2A as a novel methylation marker for multiple malignancies and it has the potential to be developed into a valuable marker for screening several cancers in parallel using promoter hypermethylation profiles.
We also demonstrate that RASSF2 has a functional NLS signal. Furthermore this is the first report demonstrating that RASSF2 suppresses growth of cancer cells in vivo. Hence providing further evidence for its role as a tumour suppressor gene located at 20p13.
PMCID: PMC2948550  PMID: 17891178
5.  RASSF1C modulates the expression of a stem cell renewal gene, PIWIL1 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:239.
RASSF1A and RASSF1C are two major isoforms encoded by the Ras association domain family 1 (RASSF1) gene through alternative promoter selection and mRNA splicing. RASSF1A is a well established tumor suppressor gene. Unlike RASSF1A, RASSF1C appears to have growth promoting actions in lung cancer. In this article, we report on the identification of novel RASSF1C target genes in non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Over-expression and siRNA techniques were used to alter RASSF1C expression in human lung cancer cells, and Affymetrix-microarray study was conducted using NCI-H1299 cells over-expressing RASSF1C to identify RASSF1C target genes.
The microarray study intriguingly shows that RASSF1C modulates the expression of a number of genes that are involved in cancer development, cell growth and proliferation, cell death, and cell cycle. We have validated the expression of some target genes using qRT-PCR. We demonstrate that RASSF1C over-expression increases, and silencing of RASSF1C decreases, the expression of PIWIL1 gene in NSCLC cells using qRT-PCR, immunostaining, and Western blot analysis. We also show that RASSF1C over-expression induces phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in lung cancer cells, and inhibition of the MEK-ERK1/2 pathway suppresses the expression of PIWIL1 gene expression, suggesting that RASSF1C may exert its activities on some target genes such as PIWIL1 through the activation of the MEK-ERK1/2 pathway. Also, PIWIL1 expression is elevated in lung cancer cell lines compared to normal lung epithelial cells.
Taken together, our findings provide significant data to propose a model for investigating the role of RASSF1C/PIWIL1 proteins in initiation and progression of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3512503  PMID: 22591718
RASSF1C; PIWIL1; Gene expression; RASSF1C target genes; ERK1/2
6.  Aberrant promoter methylation of CDH13 and MGMT genes is associated with clinicopathological characteristics of primary non small cell lung carcinoma 
Clinical Lung Cancer  2011;13(4):297-303.
Systemic methylation changes may be a diagnostic marker for tumor development or prognosis. Here, we investigate the relationship between gene methylation in lung tumors relative to normal lung tissue, and whether DNA methylation changes can be detected in paired blood samples.
Material and methods
Sixty five patients were enrolled in a surgical case series of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at a single institution. Using bisulfite pyrosequencing, CpG methylation was quantified at five genes (RASSF1A, CDH13, MGMT, ESR1 and DAPK) in lung tumor, pathologically normal lung tissue, and circulating blood from enrolled cases.
The analyses of methylation in tumors compared to normal lung tissue identified higher methylation of CDH13, RASSF1A, and DAPK genes, while ESR1 and MGMT methylation did not differ significantly between these tissue types. We then examined whether the three aberrantly methylated genes could be detected in blood. The difference in methylation observed in tumors was not reflected in methylation status of matching blood samples, indicating a low feasibility of detecting lung cancer by analyzing these genes in a blood-based test. Lastly we probed whether tumor methylation was associatied with clinical and demographic characteristics. Histology and gender were associated with methylation at the CDH13 gene, while stage was associated with methylation at MGMT.
Our results show higher methylation of RASSF1A, CDH13, and DAPK genes in lung tumors compared to normal lung. The lack of reflection of these methylation changes in blood samples from patients with NSCLC indicate their poorly suitability for a screening test.
PMCID: PMC3346856  PMID: 22169480
methylation; non-small cell lung cancer; CDH13; MGMT; clinicopathological characteristics
7.  Promoter Methylation of CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma: Quantitative Evaluation Using Pyrosequencing 
While qualitative analysis of methylation has been reviewed, the quantitative analysis of methylation has rarely been studied. We evaluated the methylation status of CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A promoter regions in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs) by using pyrosequencing. Then, we evaluated the association between methylation at the promoter regions of these tumor suppressor genes and the clinicopathological parameters of the NSCLCs.
We collected tumor tissues from a total of 53 patients with NSCLCs and analyzed the methylation level of the CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A promoter regions by using pyrosequencing. In addition, we investigated the correlation between the hypermethylation of CDKN2A and the loss of p16INK4A immunoexpression.
Hypermethylation of CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A promoter regions were 16 (30.2%), 22 (41.5%), and 21 tumors (39.6%), respectively. The incidence of hypermethylation at the CDKN2A promoter in the tumors was higher in undifferentiated large cell carcinomas than in other subtypes (p=0.002). Hyperrmethylation of CDKN2A was significantly associated with p16INK4A immunoexpression loss (p=0.045). With regard to the clinicopathological characteristics of NSCLC, certain histopathological subtypes were found to be strongly associated with the loss of p16INK4A immunoexpression (p=0.016). Squamous cell carcinoma and undifferentiated large cell carcinoma showed p16INK4A immunoexpression loss more frequently. The Kaplan-Meier survival curves analysis showed that methylation level and patient survival were barely related to one another.
We quantitatively analyzed the promoter methylation status by using pyrosequencing. We showed a significant correlation between CDKN2A hypermethylation and p16INK4A immunoexpression loss.
PMCID: PMC3475475  PMID: 23101020
DNA Methylation; Genes, p16; RASSF1 Protein, Human; Receptors, Retinoic Acid; Sequence Analysis, DNA; Carcinoma, Non-Small Cell Lung
8.  Aberrant Promoter Hypermethylation of RASSF Family Members in Merkel Cell Carcinoma 
Cancers  2013;5(4):1566-1576.
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is one of the most aggressive cancers of the skin. RASSFs are a family of tumor suppressors that are frequently inactivated by promoter hypermethylation in various cancers. We studied CpG island promoter hypermethylation in MCC of RASSF2, RASSF5A, RASSF5C and RASSF10 by combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) in MCC samples and control tissue. We found RASSF2 to be methylated in three out of 43 (7%), RASSF5A in 17 out of 39 (44%, but also 43% in normal tissue), RASSF5C in two out of 26 (8%) and RASSF10 in 19 out of 84 (23%) of the cancer samples. No correlation between the methylation status of the analyzed RASSFs or between RASSF methylation and MCC characteristics (primary versus metastatic, Merkel cell polyoma virus infection, age, sex) was found. Our results show that RASSF2, RASSF5C and RASSF10 are aberrantly hypermethylated in MCC to a varying degree and this might contribute to Merkel cell carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3875954  PMID: 24252868
merkel cell; tumor suppressor; DNA methylation; epigenetics; RASSF
9.  Family history of lung cancer in never smokers with non-small-cell lung cancer and its association with tumors harboring EGFR mutations 
Inherited susceptibility to lung cancer is understudied. Never smokers are an important subgroup of patients enriched for tumors harboring oncogene aberrations in the EGFR and ALK genes. We aimed to better characterize the incidence of family history of lung cancer among never smokers with NSCLC.
Clinicopathologic data, tumor genotype, family history of cancer, and specifically family history of lung cancer from 230 consecutive never smokers was retrospectively compiled and analyzed.
In our cohort, the median age was 56 years, 67% were women, 75% were white, 59% had advanced NSCLC and 87% had adenocarcinoma histology. In these tumors, 98/230 (42%) had an EGFR mutation, 17/155 (11%) had KRAS mutations and 27/127 (21%) had an ALK translocation. Family history of any cancer was common (57%) and specific family history of lung cancer was present in 42/230 cases (18%). The percentage of cases with family history of lung cancer was higher in the EGFR mutated versus EGFR wild-type NSCLCs. Out of the cases with a family history of any cancer, 22/53 (41.5%) EGFR mutated, 1/5 (20%) KRAS mutated and 3/19 (15.5%) ALK translocated cohorts had a family history of lung cancer. The ratio of family history of lung cancer to family history of cancer was significantly higher in the EGFR mutated cohort when compared to the ALK translocated plus KRAS mutated cohorts (p=0.039).
Family history of lung cancer is common in never smokers with NSCLC, and there seems to be a particular link in families in which the proband has an EGFR mutated tumor when compared to ALK translocated or KRAS mutated tumors. Further study of families with EGFR-mutated NSCLC may yield insights into the pathogenesis of this tumor type.
PMCID: PMC3566317  PMID: 23273562
lung cancer; non-small-cell lung cancer; family history; never smokers; epidermal growth factor receptor; EGFR; anaplastic lymphoma kinase; ALK; KRAS
10.  Hypermethylation of the large tumor suppressor genes in Japanese lung cancer 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(2):303-307.
Large tumor suppressor (LATS) 1 and 2 are tumor suppressor genes implicated in the regulation of the cell cycle. The methylation statuses of the promoter regions of these genes were studied in Japanese lung cancers. The methylation statuses of the promoter regions of LATS1 and LATS2 were investigated by methylation-specific PCR. The findings were compared to clinicopathological features of lung cancer. Methylation-specific PCR showed that the LATS1 promoter region was hypermethylated in 95 out of 119 (79.8%) lung cancers. The methylation status of LATS1 was significantly associated with squamous histology (p=0.0267) and smoking status (never smoker vs. smoker; p=0.0399). LATS1-ummethylated patients harbored more EGFR mutations (p=0.0143). The LATS2 promoter region was hypermethylated in 160 out of 203 (78.8%) lung cancers. However, the methylation status had no association with the clinicopathological characteristics of the lung cancers cases. Both the LATS1 and LATS2 methylation statuses did not correlate with survival of lung cancer patients. Thus, the EGFR methylation status of the LATS genes has limited value in Japanese lung cancers.
PMCID: PMC3436364  PMID: 22966299
hypermethylation; large tumor suppressor gene; lung cancer
11.  Methylation associated inactivation of RASSF1A and its synergistic effect with activated K-Ras in nasopharyngeal carcinoma 
Epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes associated with promoter methylation is considered to be a hallmark of oncogenesis. RASSF1A is a candidate tumor suppressor gene which was found to be inactivated in many human cancers. Although we have had a prelimilary cognition about the function of RASSF1A, the exact mechanisms about how RASSF1A functions in human cancers were largely unknown. Moreover, the effect of mutated K-Ras gene on the function of RASSF1A is lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression profile and methylation status of RASSF1A gene, and to explore its concrete mechanisms as a tumor suppressor gene in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma.
We examined the expression profile and methylation status of RASSF1A in two NPC cell lines, 38 primary nasopharyngeal carcinoma and 14 normal nasopharyngeal epithelia using RT-PCR and methylated specific PCR(MSP) respectively. 5-aza-dC was then added to confirm the correlation between hypermethylation status and inactivation of RASSF1A. The NPC cell line CNE-2 was transfected with exogenous pcDNA3.1(+)/RASSF1A plasmid in the presence or absence of mutated K-Ras by liposome-mediated gene transfer method. Flow cytometry was used to examine the effect of RASSF1A on cell cycle modulation and apoptosis. Meanwhile, trypan blue dye exclusion assays was used to detect the effect of RASSF1A transfection alone and the co-transfection of RASSF1A and K-Ras on cell proliferation.
Promoter methylation of RASSF1A could be detected in 71.05% (27/38) of NPC samples, but not in normal nasopharyngeal epithelia. RASSF1A expression in NPC primary tumors was lower than that in normal nasopharyngeal epithelial (p < 0.01). Expression of RASSF1A was down-regulated in two NPC cell lines. Loss of RASSF1A expression was greatly restored by the methyltransferase inhibitor 5-aza-dC in CNE-2. Ectopic expression of RASSF1A in CNE-2 could increase the percentage of G0/G1 phase cells (p < 0.01), inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis (p < 0.001). Moreover, activated K-Ras could enhance the growth inhibition effect induced by RASSF1A in CNE-2 cells (p < 0.01).
Expression of RASSF1A is down-regulated in NPC due to the hypermethylation of promoter. Exogenous expression of RASSF1A is able to induce growth inhibition effect and apoptosis in tumor cell lines, and this effect could be enhanced by activated K-Ras.
PMCID: PMC2809060  PMID: 20042089
12.  Methylation-associated down-regulation of RASSF1A and up-regulation of RASSF1C in pancreatic endocrine tumors 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:351.
RASSF1A gene silencing by DNA methylation has been suggested as a major event in pancreatic endocrine tumor (PET) but RASSF1A expression has never been studied. The RASSF1 locus contains two CpG islands (A and C) and generates seven transcripts (RASSF1A-RASSF1G) by differential promoter usage and alternative splicing.
We studied 20 primary PETs, their matched normal pancreas and three PET cell lines for the (i) methylation status of the RASSF1 CpG islands using methylation-specific PCR and pyrosequencing and (ii) expression of RASSF1 isoforms by quantitative RT-PCR in 13 cases. CpG island A methylation was evaluated by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and by quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP); pyrosequencing was applied to quantify the methylation of 51 CpGs also encompassing those explored by MSP and qMSP approaches.
MSP detected methylation in 16/20 (80%) PETs and 13/20 (65%) normal pancreas. At qMSP, 11/20 PETs (55%) and 9/20 (45%) normals were methylated in at least 20% of RASSF1A alleles.
Pyrosequencing showed variable distribution and levels of methylation within and among samples, with PETs having average methylation higher than normals in 15/20 (75%) cases (P = 0.01). The evaluation of mRNA expression of RASSF1 variants showed that: i) RASSF1A was always expressed in PET and normal tissues, but it was, on average, expressed 6.8 times less in PET (P = 0.003); ii) RASSF1A methylation inversely correlated with its expression; iii) RASSF1 isoforms were rarely found, except for RASSF1B that was always expressed and RASSF1C whose expression was 11.4 times higher in PET than in normal tissue (P = 0.001). A correlation between RASSF1A expression and gene methylation was found in two of the three PET cell lines, which also showed a significant increase in RASSF1A expression upon demethylating treatment.
RASSF1A gene methylation in PET is higher than normal pancreas in no more than 75% of cases and as such it cannot be considered a marker for this neoplasm. RASSF1A is always expressed in PET and normal pancreas and its levels are inversely correlated with gene methylation. Isoform RASSF1C is overexpressed in PET and the recent demonstration of its involvement in the regulation of the Wnt pathway points to a potential pathogenetic role in tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3170651  PMID: 21838870
13.  Quantitative methylation profiling in tumor and matched morphologically normal tissues from breast cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:97.
In the present study, we determined the gene hypermethylation profiles of normal tissues adjacent to invasive breast carcinomas and investigated whether these are associated with the gene hypermethylation profiles of the corresponding primary breast tumors.
A quantitative methylation-specific PCR assay was used to analyze the DNA methylation status of 6 genes (DAPK, TWIST, HIN-1, RASSF1A, RARβ2 and APC) in 9 normal breast tissue samples from unaffected women and in 56 paired cancerous and normal tissue samples from breast cancer patients.
Normal tissue adjacent to breast cancer displayed statistically significant differences to unrelated normal breast tissues regarding the aberrant methylation of the RASSF1A (P = 0.03), RARβ2 (P = 0.04) and APC (P = 0.04) genes. Although methylation ratios for all genes in normal tissues from cancer patients were significantly lower than in the cancerous tissue from the same patient (P ≤ 0.01), in general, a clear correlation was observed between methylation ratios measured in both tissue types for all genes tested (P < 0.01). When analyzed as a categorical variable, there was a significant concordance between methylation changes in normal tissues and in the corresponding tumor for all genes tested but RASSF1A. Notably, in 73% of patients, at least one gene with an identical methylation change in cancerous and normal breast tissues was observed.
Histologically normal breast tissues adjacent to breast tumors frequently exhibit methylation changes in multiple genes. These methylation changes may play a role in the earliest stages of the development of breast neoplasia.
PMCID: PMC2845117  PMID: 20226036
14.  Aberrant Promoter Methylation of p16 and MGMT Genes in Lung Tumors from Smoking and Never-Smoking Lung Cancer Patients1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2006;8(1):46-51.
Aberrant methylation in gene promoter regions leads to transcriptional inactivation of cancer-related genes and plays an integral role in tumorigenesis. This alteration has been investigated in lung tumors primarily from smokers, whereas only a few studies involved never-smokers. Here, we applied methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction to compare the frequencies of the methylated promoter of p16 and O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) genes in lung tumors from 122 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, including 81 smokers and 41 never-smokers. Overall, promoter methylation was detected in 52.5% (64 of 122) and 30.3% (37 of 122) of the p16 and MGMT genes, respectively. Furthermore, the frequency of promoter methylation was significantly higher among smokers, compared with never-smokers, for both the p16 [odds ratio (OR) = 3.28; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.28-8.39; P = .013] and MGMT (OR = 3.93; 95% CI = 1.27-12.21; P = .018) genes. The trend for a higher promoter methylation frequency of these genes was also observed among female smokers compared with female never-smokers. Our results suggest an association between tobacco smoking and an increased incidence of aberrant promoter methylation of the p16 and MGMT genes in non-small cell lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC1584289  PMID: 16533425
Lung tumors; p16; MGMT; promoter methylation; never-smokers
15.  The RASSF gene family members RASSF5, RASSF6 and RASSF7 show frequent DNA methylation in neuroblastoma 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:40.
Hypermethylation of promotor CpG islands is a common mechanism that inactivates tumor suppressor genes in cancer. Genes belonging to the RASSF gene family have frequently been reported as epigenetically silenced by promotor methylation in human cancers. Two members of this gene family, RASSF1A and RASSF5A have been reported as methylated in neuroblastoma. Data from our previously performed genome-wide DNA methylation array analysis indicated that other members of the RASSF gene family are targeted by DNA methylation in neuroblastoma.
In the current study, we found that several of the RASSF family genes (RASSF2, RASSF4, RASSF5, RASSF6, RASSF7, and RASSF10) to various degrees were methylated in neuroblastoma cell lines and primary tumors. In addition, several of the RASSF family genes showed low or absent mRNA expression in neuroblastoma cell lines. RASSF5 and RASSF6 were to various degrees methylated in a large portion of neuroblastoma tumors and RASSF7 was heavily methylated in most tumors. Further, CpG methylation sites in the CpG islands of some RASSF family members could be used to significantly discriminate between biological subgroups of neuroblastoma tumors. For example, RASSF5 methylation highly correlated to MYCN amplification and INRG stage M. Furthermore, high methylation of RASSF6 was correlated to unfavorable outcome, 1p deletion and MYCN amplification in our tumor material.
In conclusion
This study shows that several genes belonging to the RASSF gene family are methylated in neuroblastoma. The genes RASSF5, RASSF6 and RASSF7 stand out as the most promising candidate genes for further investigations in neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3493266  PMID: 22695170
16.  The tumor suppressor RASSF10 is upregulated upon contact inhibition and frequently epigenetically silenced in cancer 
Oncogenesis  2012;1(6):e18-.
The Ras association domain family (RASSF) comprises a group of tumor suppressors that are frequently epigenetically inactivated in various tumor entities and linked to apoptosis, cell cycle control and microtubule stability. In this work, we concentrated on the newly identified putative tumor suppressor RASSF10. Methylation analysis reveals RASSF10 promoter hypermethylation in lung cancer, head and neck (HN) cancer, sarcoma and pancreatic cancer. An increase in RASSF10 methylation from normal tissues, primary tumors to cancer cell lines was observed. Methylation was reversed by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine treatment leading to reexpression of RASSF10. We further show that overexpression of RASSF10 suppresses colony formation in cancer cell lines. In addition, RASSF10 is upregulated by cell–cell contact and regulated on promoter level as well as endogenously by forskolin, protein kinase A (PKA) and activator Protein 1 (AP-1), linking RASSF10 to the cAMP signaling pathway. Knockdown of the AP-1 member JunD interfered with contact inhibition induced RASSF10 expression. In summary, we found RASSF10 to be epigenetically inactivated by hypermethylation of its CpG island promoter in lung, HN, sarcoma and pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, our novel findings suggest that tumor suppressor RASSF10 is upregulated by PKA and JunD signaling upon contact inhibition and that RASSF10 suppresses growth of cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3412644  PMID: 23552700
epigenetics; DNA methylation; RASSF10; tumor suppressor; gene regulation
17.  The RASSF1 Gene and the Opposing Effects of the RASSF1A and RASSF1C Isoforms on Cell Proliferation and Apoptosis 
RASSF1A has been demonstrated to be a tumor suppressor, while RASSF1C is now emerging as a growth promoting protein in breast and lung cancer cells. To further highlight the dual functionality of the RASSF1 gene, we have compared the effects of RASSF1A and RASSF1C on cell proliferation and apoptosis in the presence of TNF-α. Overexpression of RASSF1C in breast and lung cancer cells reduced the effects of TNF-α on cell proliferation, apoptosis, and MST1/2 phosphorylation, while overexpression of RASSF1A had the opposite effect. We also assessed the expression of RASSF1A and RASSF1C in breast and lung tumor and matched normal tissues. We found that RASSF1A mRNA levels are significantly higher than RASSF1C mRNA levels in all normal breast and lung tissues examined. In addition, RASSF1A expression is significantly downregulated in 92% of breast tumors and in 53% of lung tumors. Conversely, RASSF1C was upregulated in 62% of breast tumors and in 47% of lung tumors. Together, these findings suggest that RASSF1C, unlike RASSF1A, is not a tumor suppressor but instead may play a role in stimulating survival in breast and lung cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3845702  PMID: 24327924
18.  Frequent epigenetic inactivation of RASSF2 in thyroid cancer and functional consequences 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:264.
The Ras association domain family (RASSF) encodes for distinct tumor suppressors and several members are frequently silenced in human cancer. In our study, we analyzed the role of RASSF2, RASSF3, RASSF4, RASSF5A, RASSF5C and RASSF6 and the effectors MST1, MST2 and WW45 in thyroid carcinogenesis.
Frequent methylation of the RASSF2 and RASSF5A CpG island promoters in thyroid tumors was observed. RASSF2 was methylated in 88% of thyroid cancer cell lines and in 63% of primary thyroid carcinomas. RASSF2 methylation was significantly increased in primary thyroid carcinoma compared to normal thyroid, goiter and follicular adenoma (0%, 17% and 0%, respectively; p < 0.05). Patients which were older than 60 years were significantly hypermethylated for RASSF2 in their primary thyroid tumors compared to those younger than 40 years (90% vs. 38%; p < 0.05). RASSF2 promoter hypermethylation correlated with its reduced expression and treatment with a DNA methylation inhibitor reactivated RASSF2 transcription. Over-expression of RASSF2 reduced colony formation of thyroid cancer cells. Functionally our data show that RASSF2 interacts with the proapoptotic kinases MST1 and MST2 and induces apoptosis in thyroid cancer cell lines. Deletion of the MST interaction domain of RASSF2 reduced apoptosis significantly (p < 0.05).
These results suggest that RASSF2 encodes a novel epigenetically inactivated candidate tumor suppressor gene in thyroid carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2956732  PMID: 20920251
19.  Polymorphism of A133S and promoter hypermethylation in Ras association domain family 1A gene (RASSF1A) is associated with risk of esophageal and gastric cardia cancers in Chinese population from high incidence area in northern China 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:259.
The role of tumor suppressor gene RASSF1A in the esophageal and gastric cardia carcinogenesis is still inconclusive. In this study, the polymorphism, promoter methylation and gene expression of RASSF1A were characterized in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA).
We firstly analyzed the prevalence of RASSF1A A133S in a total of 228 cancer patients with ESCC (n=112) and GCA (n=116) and 235 normal controls by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction enzyme-digestion assay. Then, the promoter methylation status of the RASSF1A in ESCC (n=143), GCA (n=92) and corresponding adjacent normal tissues were further investigated using methylation-specific PCR (MSP) approach. Finally, the RASSF1A protein expression were determined in ESCC (n=27), GCA (n=24) and the matched adjacent normal tissues by immunohistochemical method.
The frequency of 133Ala/Se and Ser/Ser genotype was significantly higher in GCA patients than in normal controls (19.0% vs. 10.2%, P=0.02). Compared with Ala/Ala genotype, Ala/Se and Ser/Ser genotype significantly increased susceptibility to GCA (OR=2.06, 95% CI=1.09–3.97). However, this polymorphism had no association with ESCC (P=0.69). The promoter methylation of RASSF1A gene was significantly increased the risk to both ESCC (OR=5.90, 95% CI=2.78–12.52) and GCA (OR=7.50, 95% CI= 2.78–20.23). Promoter methylation of RASSF1A gene in ESCC was also associated with age and cancer cell differentiation (for age: OR=3.11, 95% CI=1.10–8.73; for differentiation: OR=0.29, 95% CI=0.12–0.69). RASSF1A positive expression was significantly decreased the risk of GCA (OR=0.16, 95% CI=0.03–0.83). In contrast, there was no statistical significance between RASSF1A positive expression and ESCC. The expression of RASSF1A protein trend to be positively related with older GCA patients (OR=16.20, 95% CI=1.57–167.74).
The present findings suggest that alterations of RASSF1A may play an important role in gastric cardia carcinogenesis in terms of polymorphism, promoter hypermethylation and protein expression. Whereas, RASSF1A hypermethylation may probably also be involved in esophageal squamous cell carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3668992  PMID: 23705663
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Gastric cardia adenocarcinoma; A133S in RASSF1A; Polymorphism; Methylation; Protein expression
20.  Methylation of the RASSF1A and RARβ genes as a candidate biomarker for lung cancer 
Promoter methylation of the RASSF1A and RARβ genes has been associated with susceptibility to different types of cancer. In addition, RASSF1A and RARβ methylation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of lung cancer. We investigated the aberrant promoter methylation of RASSF1A and RARβ in lung cancer patients using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP). Aberrant promoter methylation of the RASSF1A gene was detected in 45 of 56 (80.36%) cancer patients and aberrant promoter methylation of the RARβ gene was found in 48 of 56 (85.71%) cases; promoter methylation of both genes was found in 42 of 56 (75%) lung cancer cases. None of the 52 samples from controls exhibited DNA methylation in these two target genes. Methylation was significantly associated with the lung cancer cases compared to controls for the RASSF1A gene (adjusted OR=7.50; 95% CI, 3.935–14.296; p<0.001); similar results were obtained for methylation of the RARβ gene (adjusted OR=5.727; 95% CI, 3.348–9.797; p<0.001). In addition, the association remained significant in these two target genes (adjusted OR=8.429; 95% CI, 4.205–16.896; p<0.001). Our results indicated that the high percentage of promoter methylation in the RARβ and RASSF1A genes indicate their important role in the development of lung cancer in the population studied, and that risk of lung cancer for carriers positive for both genes is higher than in single-gene positive carriers, which may serve as a useful marker for prognosis and a target for the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3438552  PMID: 22970018
methylation; Ras association domain family 1 A gene; RARβ gene; lung cancer; methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction
21.  N-terminal RASSF family 
Epigenetics  2011;6(3):284-292.
Epigenetic inactivation of tumor suppressor genes is a hallmark of cancer development. RASSF1A (Ras Association Domain Family 1 isoform A) tumor suppressor gene is one of the most frequently epigenetically inactivated genes in a wide range of adult and children's cancers and could be a useful molecular marker for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. RASSF1A has been shown to play a role in several biological pathways, including cell cycle control, apoptosis and microtubule dynamics. RASSF2, RASSF4, RASSF5 and RASSF6 are also epigenetically inactivated in cancer but have not been analyzed in as wide a range of malignancies as RASSF1A. Recently four new members of the RASSF family were identified these are termed N-Terminal RASSF genes (RASSF7–RASSF10). Molecular and biological analysis of these newer members has just begun. This review highlights what we currently know in respects to structural, functional and molecular properties of the N-Terminal RASSFs.
PMCID: PMC3092676  PMID: 21116130
N-terminal RASSF; RAS; cancer; epigenetic; tumor suppressor
22.  Loss of RASSF1A Expression in Colorectal Cancer and Its Association with K-ras Status 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:976765.
Background. The RAS-association domain family 1 A (RASSF1A) is a classical member of RAS effectors regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis. Loss of RASSF1A expression may shift the balance towards a growth-promoting effect without the necessity of activating K-ras mutations. Its potential association with K-ras mutations in colorectal cancer (CRC) is unclear. Methods. RASSF1A expression was examined in normal mucosa, adenoma, and tumor tissues of colon and rectum, respectively. We examined the association of RASSF1A expression, mutations of K-ras, and EGFR status in 76 primary CRCs. The relationship between clinicopathological characteristics and RASSF1A expression was also analyzed. Results. RASSF1A expression level decreased progressively in normal mucosa, adenoma and, tumor tissues, and the loss of RASSF1A expression occurred more frequently in tumor tissues. Of 76 primary CRCs, loss of RASSF1A expression and/or K-ras mutations were detected in 77% cases. Loss of RASSF1A expression was more frequent in K-ras wild-type than in mutation cases (63% versus 32%, P = 0.011). Conclusions. Our study indicates that loss of RASSF1A may be involved in pathogenesis of CRC, its expression was found predominantly in K-ras wild-type CRCs, suggesting that it may be another way of affecting RAS signaling, in addition to K-ras mutations.
PMCID: PMC3705944  PMID: 23865079
23.  Comparison of Methylation Profiling in Cancerous and Their Corresponding Normal Tissues from Korean Patients with Breast Cancer 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2013;33(6):431-440.
Aberrant DNA hypermethylation plays a pivotal role in carcinogenesis and disease progression; therefore, accurate measurement of differential gene methylation patterns among many genes is likely to reveal biomarkers for improved risk assessment. We evaluated the gene hypermethylation profiles of primary breast tumors and their corresponding normal tissues and investigated the association between major clinicopathological features and gene hypermethylation.
A single reaction using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to analyze the DNA methylation status of 24 tumor suppressor genes in 60 cancerous tissues and their corresponding normal tissues from patients with primary breast cancer.
In cancerous breast tissues, 21 of 24 genes displayed promoter methylation in one or more samples. The most frequently methylated genes included RASSF1 (43.3%), APC (31.7%), CDKN2B (25.0%), CDH13 (23.3%), GSTP1 (16.7%), and BRCA1 (10%). APC was associated with lymph node metastasis, and BRCA1 was associated with negative estrogen receptor and negative progesterone receptor expression. In normal breast tissues, 8 of 24 tumor suppressor genes displayed promoter hypermethylation; CDKN2B (28.3%) and RASSF1 (8.3%) hypermethylation were most frequently observed.
RASSF1 and CDKN2B hypermethylation in Korean breast cancer patients were the most frequent in cancerous tissue and corresponding normal tissue, respectively. Our data indicates that methylation of specific genes is a frequent event in morphologically normal breast tissues adjacent to breast tumors as well as the corresponding breast cancers. This study also suggests that gene methylation is linked to various pathological features of breast cancer; however, this requires confirmation in a larger study.
PMCID: PMC3819443  PMID: 24205493
Breast cancer; Epigenetics; Carcinogenesis; Methylation
24.  Concomitant promoter methylation of multiple genes in lung adenocarcinomas from current, former and never smokers 
Carcinogenesis  2009;30(7):1132-1138.
Aberrant promoter hypermethylation is one of the major mechanisms in carcinogenesis and some critical growth regulatory genes have shown commonality in methylation across solid tumors. Twenty-six genes, 14 identified through methylation in colon and breast cancers, were evaluated using primary lung adenocarcinomas (n = 175) from current, former and never smokers. Tumor specificity of methylation was validated through comparison of 14 lung cancer cell lines to normal human bronchial epithelial cells derived from bronchoscopy of 20 cancer-free smokers. Twenty-five genes were methylated in 11–81% of primary tumors. Prevalence for methylation of TNFRSF10C, BHLHB5 and BOLL was significantly higher in adenocarcinomas from never smokers than smokers. The relation between methylation of individual genes was examined using pairwise comparisons. A significant association was seen between 138 (42%) of the possible 325 pairwise comparisons. Most notably, methylation of MMP2, BHLHB4 or p16 was significantly associated with methylation of 16–19 other genes, thus predicting for a widespread methylation phenotype. Kaplan–Meier log-rank test and proportional hazard models identified a significant association between methylation of SULF2 (a pro-growth, -angiogenesis and -migration gene) and better patient survival (hazard ratio = 0.23). These results demonstrate a high degree of commonality for targeted silencing of genes between lung and other solid tumors and suggest that promoter hypermethylation in cancer is a highly co-ordinated event.
PMCID: PMC2704285  PMID: 19435948
25.  Distinct Epigenetic Domains Separated by a CTCF Bound Insulator between the Tandem Genes, BLU and RASSF1A 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12847.
Tumor suppressor gene (TSG) RASSF1A and candidate TSG BLU are two tandem head-to-tail genes located at 3p21.3. We hypothesized that there may be a concordance on their gene expression and promoter methylation status. If not, then there may be an insulator located between RASSF1A and BLU genes that provides a barrier activity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We first identified potential transcriptionally important CpG sites using the methylation-specific oligonucleotide array in relation to mRNA expression of RASSF1A and BLU genes in primary lung tumors. We demonstrated that E2F1 bound to the potential transcriptionally important CpG sites in RASSF1A gene of a normal lung cell line expressing RASSF1A transcripts, whereas loss of E2F1 binding to RASSF1A in A549 cancer cell line was the result of DNA methylation. Both RASSF1A and BLU genes had their own potential transcriptionally important CpG regions. However, there was no correlation of methylation status between RASSF1A and BLU. Using gel shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR (ChIP-PCR), we found that CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) bound to insulator sequences located between these two genes. Bisulfite sequencing and ChIP-PCR revealed distinct methylation and chromatin boundaries separated by the CTCF binding domains in normal cells, whereas such distinct epigenetic domains were not observed in cancer cells. Note that demethylation reagent and histone deacetylase inhibitor treatments led to CTCF binding and recovery of barrier effect for RASSF1A and BLU genes in cancer cells.
Our study dissects the potential transcriptionally important CpG sites for RASSF1A and BLU genes at the sequence level and demonstrates that CTCF binding to the insulator of BLU gene provides a barrier activity within separate epigenetic domains of the juxtaposed BLU and RASSF1A loci in the 3p21.3 gene cluster region.
PMCID: PMC2942851  PMID: 20877461

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