Previous findings have suggested that epigenetic-mediated HLA-G expression in tumor cells may be associated with resistance to host immunosurveillance. To explore the potential role of DNA methylation on HLA-G expression in ovarian cancer, we correlated differences in HLA-G expression with methylation changes within the HLA-G regulatory region in an ovarian cancer cell line treated with 5-aza-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) and in malignant and benign ovarian tumor samples and ovarian surface epithelial cells (OSE) isolated from patients with normal ovaries.
A region containing an intact hypoxia response element (HRE) remained completely methylated in the cell line after treatment with 5-aza-dC and was completely methylated in all of the ovarian tumor (malignant and benign) samples examined, but only variably methylated in normal OSE samples. HLA-G expression was significantly increased in the 5-aza-dC treated cell line but no significant difference was detected between the tumor and OSE samples examined.
Since HRE is the binding site of a known repressor of HLA-G expression (HIF-1), we hypothesize that methylation of the region surrounding the HRE may help maintain the potential for expression of HLA-G in ovarian tumors. The fact that no correlation exists between methylation and HLA-G gene expression between ovarian tumor samples and OSE, suggests that changes in methylation may be necessary but not sufficient for HLA-G expression in ovarian cancer.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most prevalent cancer, a significant contributor to morbidity and a leading cause of cancer-related death in men in Western industrialized countries. In contrast to genetic changes that vary among individual cases, somatic epigenetic alterations are early and highly consistent events. Epigenetics encompasses several different phenomena, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, RNA interference, and genomic imprinting. Epigenetic processes regulate gene expression and can change malignancy-associated phenotypes such as growth, migration, invasion, or angiogenesis. Methylations of certain genes are associated with PCa progression. Compared to normal prostate tissues, several hypermethylated genes have also been identified in benign prostate hyperplasia, which suggests a role for aberrant methylation in this growth dysfunction. Global and gene-specific DNA methylation could be affected by environmental and dietary factors. Among other epigenetic changes, aberrant DNA methylation might have a great potential as diagnostic or prognostic marker for PCa and could be tested in tumor tissues and various body fluids (e.g., serum, urine). The DNA methylation markers are simple in nature, have high sensitivity, and could be detected either quantitatively or qualitatively. Availability of genome-wide screening methodologies also allows the identification of epigenetic signatures in high throughput population studies. Unlike irreversible genetic changes, epigenetic alterations are reversible and could be used for PCa targeted therapies.
Epigenetics; Genome; Methylation; Prostate cancer.
HER2/neu overexpression is a driving force in the carcinogenesis of several human cancers. In breast cancer the prognostic influence of HER2/neu was shown to be at least partly based on increased metastatic potential mediated by the chemokine–chemokine receptor pair SDF-1(CXCL12)/CXCR4. We wanted to evaluate the influence of HER2/neu on ovarian cancer prognosis and to investigate whether compromised survival would correlate with CXCR4 expression and/or SDF-1 abundance. Therefore, we analysed HER2/neu, CXCR4, and SDF-1 in 148 ovarian tumour samples by means of immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays. Overexpression of HER2/neu was found in 27.6% of ovarian cancer tissues and in 15% of ovarian borderline tumours. In ovarian cancer patients, overexpression of HER2/neu correlated closely with overall survival (univariate hazard ratio (HR) 2.59, P=0.005; multiple corrected HR 1.92, P=0.074). In contrast, CXCR4 expression and SDF-1 abundance had no impact on overall survival, and both parameters were not correlated with HER2/neu expression. As expected, cytoplasmic CXCR4 expression and SDF-1 abundance correlated closely (P<0.0001). Our results confirm a univariate influence of HER2/neu expression on overall survival, which was completely independent of the expression of CXCR4 and the abundance of SDF-1, implying significant differences between the HER2/neu downstream pathways in ovarian cancer compared with breast cancer.
ovarian cancer; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarray; HER2/neu; CXCR4; SDF-1
MicroRNA (miRNA) expression is known to be deregulated in ovarian carcinomas. However, limited data is available about the miRNA expression pattern for the benign or borderline ovarian tumors as well as differential miRNA expression pattern associated with histological types, grades or clinical stages in ovarian carcinomas. We defined patterns of microRNA expression in tissues from normal, benign, borderline, and malignant ovarian tumors and explored the relationship between frequently deregulated miRNAs and clinicopathologic findings, response to therapy, survival, and association with Her-2/neu status in ovarian carcinomas.
We measured the expression of nine miRNAs (miR-181d, miR-30a-3p, miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p, miR-368, miR-370, miR-493-5p, miR-532-5p) in 171 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded ovarian tissue blocks as well as six normal human ovarian surface epithelial (HOSE) cell lines using Taqman-based real-time PCR assays. Her-2/neu overexpression was assessed in ovarian carcinomas (n = 109 cases) by immunohistochemistry analysis.
Expression of four miRNAs (miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p, miR-370) was significantly different between carcinomas and benign ovarian tissues as well as between carcinoma and borderline tissues. An additional three miRNAs (miR-181d, miR-30a-3p, miR-532-5p) were significantly different between borderline and carcinoma tissues. Expression of miR-532-5p was significantly lower in borderline than in benign tissues. Among ovarian carcinomas, expression of four miRNAs (miR-30a-3p, miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p) was lowest in mucinous and highest in clear cell samples. Expression of miR-30a-3p was higher in well-differentiated compared to poorly differentiated tumors (P = 0.02), and expression of miR-370 was higher in stage I/II compared to stage III/IV samples (P = 0.03). In multivariate analyses, higher expression of miR-181d, miR-30c, miR-30d, and miR-30e-3p was associated with significantly better disease-free or overall survival. Finally, lower expression of miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p and miR-532-5p was significantly associated with overexpression of Her-2/neu.
Aberrant expression of miRNAs is common in ovarian tumor suggesting involvement of miRNA in ovarian tumorigenesis. They are associated with histology, clinical stage, survival and oncogene expression in ovarian carcinoma.
miRNA; Ovarian tumor; Her2/neu; Survival
The status of the EGFR and HER2-neu genes has not been fully defined in ovarian cancer. An integrated analysis of both genes could help define the proportion of patients that would potentially benefit from targeted therapies.
We determined the tumour mutation status of the entire tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of the EGFR and HER2-neu genes in a cohort of 52 patients with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer as well as the gene copy number and protein expression of both genes in 31 of these patients by DGGE and direct sequecing, immunohistochemistry and Fluorescent in Situ Hybridisation (FISH).
The EGFR was expressed in 59% of the cases, with a 2+/3+ staining intensity in 38%. HER2-neu expression was found in 35%, with a 2/3+ staining in 18%. No mutations were found in exons 18–24 of the TK domains of EGFR and HER2-neu. High polysomy of the EGFR gene was observed in 13% of the invasive epthelial cancers and amplification of the HER2-neu gene was found in 10% and correlated with a high expression level by immunohistochemistry.
Mutations within the tyrosine kinase domain were not found in the entire TK domain of both genes, but have been found in very rare cases by others.
Genomic alteration of the HER2-neu and EGFR genes is frequent (25%) in ovarian cancer. EGFR/HER2-neu targeted therapies should be investigated prospectively and specifically in that subset of patients.
This study examined the relation of soy intake with hormonal and proliferation markers in benign and malignant breast tissue using tissue microarrays (TMAs). TMAs with up to 4 malignant and 4 benign tissue samples for 268 breast cancer cases were constructed. Soy intake in early life and in adulthood was assessed by questionnaire. The TMAs were stained for ERα, ERβ, PR, HER2/neu, PCNA, and Ki-67 using standard immunohistochemical methods. Logistic regression was applied for statistical analysis. A higher percentage of women showed positive marker expression in malignant than in benign tissue. With one exception, HER2/neu, no significant associations between soy intake and pathologic markers were observed. Early life soy intake was associated with lower HER2/neu and PCNA staining of malignant tissue. In benign tissue, early life soy intake showed higher ER and PR expression, but no difference in proliferation markers. The results of this investigation provide some assurance that soy intake does not adversely affect markers of proliferation. TMAs were shown to be a useful tool for epidemiologic research.
Soy foods; Breast cancer; Immunohistochemistry; Tissue microarrays; Proliferation; Ethnicity
Her2/neu is a protooncogene often amplified and overexpressed in ovary and breast cancer cells. HER2/neu receptors - HER2/neu gene expression products stimulate signal transduction pathways leading to increased cell proliferation. The level of its expression is associated with cancer malignancy. Therefore, HER2/neu is an important indicator of cancer malignancy, as well as, a target for antibody guided cancer therapies. The main objective of this work was to develop molecular probes, which would report levels of HER2/neu gene expression and anatomical distribution of its products in vivo. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is particularly suitable for this endeavor, as it offers not only the best spatial resolution from all in vivo imaging modalities currently available, but also the topographic reference for location of these probes within anatomy of the human body. Superparamagnetic single chain variable fragment (scFv) antibodies targeting HER2/neu receptors were genetically engineered. They warranted high labeling specificity and affinity revealed with EDXSI, as well as, induced significant changes in relaxivity detected with NMR. This study demonstrated a proof of concept for using superparamagnetic scFvs in diagnostic evaluation of levels of gene expression products with NMR and MRI for planning receptor targeted therapies.
HER2/neu; ovarian cancer; breast cancer; signal transduction; genetically engineered single chain variable fragment antibodies
Giant fibroadenoma is an uncommon variant of benign breast lesions. Aberrant methylation of CpG islands in promoter regions is known to be involved in the silencing of genes (for example, tumor-suppressor genes) and appears to be an early event in the etiology of breast carcinogenesis. Only hypermethylation of p16INK4a has been reported in non-giant breast fibroadenoma. In this particular case, there are no previously published data on epigenetic alterations in giant fibroadenomas. Our previous results, based on the analysis of 49 cancer-related CpG islands have confirmed that the aberrant methylation is specific to malignant breast tumors and that it is completely absent in normal breast tissue and breast fibroadenomas.
A 13-year-old Hispanic girl was referred after she had noted a progressive development of a mass in her left breast. On physical examination, a 10 × 10 cm lump was detected and axillary lymph nodes were not enlarged. After surgical removal the lump was diagnosed as a giant fibroadenoma. Because of the high growth rate of this benign tumor, we decided to analyze the methylation status of 49 CpG islands related to cell growth control. We have identified the methylation of five cancer-related CpG islands in the giant fibroadenoma tissue: ESR1, MGMT, WT-1, BRCA2 and CD44.
In this case report we show for the first time the methylation analysis of a giant fibroadenoma. The detection of methylation of these five cancer-related regions indicates substantial epigenomic differences with non-giant fibroadenomas. Epigenetic alterations could explain the higher growth rate of this tumor. Our data contribute to the growing knowledge of aberrant methylation in breast diseases. In this particular case, there exist no previous data regarding the role of methylation in giant fibroadenomas, considered by definition as a benign breast lesion.
Abnormal DNA content in tumor cells represents large scale chromosomal alterations and reflects later changes of genetic instability. Her-2/neu oncogene is amplified in 20% to 30% of breast and ovarian cancer patients and is associated with poor prognosis. Therefore, we evaluated prognostic value of Her-2/neu expression and DNA content measurements in 252 clinically localized PCa patients with long-term follow-up after radical prostatectomy for progression, metastasis and PCa-specific death. Her-2/neu expression was determined by immunohistochemistry and DNA content measurements employed Feulgen-stained cancer nuclei captured using static image cytometry system. Cox proportional hazard regression & Kaplan Meir plots were used to identify significant prognostic factors for progression, metastasis and PCa-specific death. The proportions of Her-2/neu positive and high %DNA index tumors significantly increased from non-progressor to progressors without metastasis to progressors with metastasis (p<0.0001; <0.0001). Further, the proportions of Her-2/neu positive and high %DNA index tumors significantly increased from patients who died from another cause without progression to those who died from another cause with progression to those died with PCa-specific death (p=0.027; <0.0001). Her-2/neu expression and %DNA index were significant prognosticators for progression (p≤0.001), metastasis (p≤0.01) PCa-specific death (p≤0.04) in univariate analyses. Multivariately, Her-2/neu expression and %DNA index were also significant for progression (p=0.001), metastasis (p=0.001), and PCa-specific death (p=0.02). When all other clinicopathologic information is available, the increment in concordance index by addition of either Her-2/neu or DNA index was ∼2% and of both biomarkers was ∼3% for progression, metastasis and PCa-specific death free survival models. Therefore, patients with Her-2/neu positive and high %DNA index are at a higher risk for disease progression, metastasis and PCa-specific death. Further, Her-2/neu expression and %DNA index may be used with clinicopathologic parameters for prediction of long-term prognosis in PCa.
Altered DNA methylation of tumor suppressor gene promoters plays a role in human carcinogenesis and DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) are responsible for it. This study aimed to determine aberrant expression of DNMT1, DNMT3a, and DNMT3b in benign and malignant ovarian tumor tissues for their association with clinicopathological significance and prognostic value. A total of 142 ovarian cancers and 44 benign ovarian tumors were recruited for immunohistochemical analysis of their expression. The data showed that expression of DNMT1, DNMT3a, and DNMT3b was observed in 76 (53.5%), 92 (64.8%) and 79 (55.6%) of 142 cases of ovarian cancer tissues, respectively. Of the serious tumors, DNMT3a protein expression was significantly higher than that in benign tumor samples (P = 0.001); DNMT3b was marginally significant down regulated in ovarian cancers compared to that of the benign tumors (P = 0.054); DNMT1 expression has no statistical difference between ovarian cancers and benign tumor tissues (P = 0.837). Of the mucious tumors, the expression of DNMT3a, DNMT3b, and DNMT1 was not different between malignant and benign tumors. Moreover, DNMT1 expression was associated with DNMT3b expression (P = 0.020, r = 0.195). DNMT1 expression was associated with age of the patients, menopause status, and tumor localization, while DNMT3a expression was associated with histological types and serum CA125 levels and DNMT3b expression was associated with lymph node metastasis. In addition, patients with DNMT1 or DNMT3b expression had a trend of better survival than those with negative expression. Co-expression of DNMT1 and DNMT3b was significantly associated with better overall survival (P = 0.014). The data from this study provided the first evidence for differential expression of DNMTs proteins in ovarian cancer tissues and their associations with clinicopathological and survival data in sporadic ovarian cancer patients.
DNA methylation is a fundamental epigenetic event associated with physiologic and pathologic conditions including cancer. Hypermethylation of CpG islands at active gene promoters lead to transcriptional repression while hypomethylation is associated with gene overexpression. The aim of this study was to identify genes in adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of salivary gland strongly deregulated by epigenetic CpG island methylation, to validate selected genes by conventional techniques, and to correlate the findings with clinico-pathologic factors.
We analyzed 16 matched normal and tumor tissues for aberrant DNA methylation using the methylated CpG island amplification and microarray (MCAM) method, and the pyrosequencing technique.
Microarray analysis showed hypomethylation in seven, and hypermethylation in 32 CpG islands. Hypomethylation was identified in CpG islands near FBXO17, PHKG1, LOXL1, DOCK1 and PARVG. Hypermethylation was identified near genes encoding predominantly transcription factors (EN1, FOXE1, GBX2, FOXL2, TBX4, MEIS1, LBX2, NR2F2, POU3F3, IRX3, TFAP2C, NKX2-4, PITX1, NKX2-5), and 13 genes with different functions (MT1H, EPHX3, AQPEP, BCL2L11, SLC35D3, S1PR5, PNLIPRP1, CLIC6, RASAL, XRN2, GSTM5, FNDC1, INSRR). Four CpG islands by EN1, FOXE1, TBX4, and PITX1 were validated by pyrosequencing.
The highly methylated genes in tumor versus normal are linked to developmental, apoptotic and other fundamental cellular pathways, suggesting that downregulation of these genes is associated with ACC development and progression. With EN1 hypermethylation showing potential as possible biomarker for ACC in salivary gland, the biological and therapeutic implications of our findings require further preclinical investigations.
adenoid cystic carcinoma; epigenetics; CpG island methylation; MCAM; pyrosequencing
Cancer cells typically exhibit aberrant DNA methylation patterns that can drive malignant transformation. Whether cancer cells are dependent on these abnormal epigenetic modifications remains elusive. We used experimental and bioinformatics approaches to unveil genomic regions that require DNA methylation for survival of cancer cells. First, we surveyed the residual DNA methylation profiles in cancer cells with highly impaired DNA methyltransferases. Then, we clustered these profiles according to their DNA methylation status in primary normal and tumor tissues. Finally, we used gene expression meta-analysis to identify regions that are dependent on DNA methylation-mediated gene silencing. We further showed experimentally that these genes must be silenced by DNA methylation for cancer cell survival, suggesting these are key epigenetic events associated with tumorigenesis.
Both gastric and colorectal cancers (CRC) are the most frequently occurring malignancies worldwide with the overall survival of these patients remains unsatisfied. Identification of tumor suppressor genes (TSG) silenced by promoter CpG methylation uncovers mechanisms of tumorigenesis and identifies new epigenetic biomarkers for early cancer detection and prognosis assessment. Cystathionine-beta-synthase (CBS) functions in the folate metabolism pathway, which is intricately linked to methylation of genomic DNA. Dysregulation of DNA methylation contributes substantially to cancer development.
To identify potential TSGs silenced by aberrant promoter methylation in CRC, we analyzed tumor and adjacent tissues from CRC cases using the Illumina Human Methylation45 BeadChip. We identified hypermethylation of the CBS gene in CRC samples, compared to adjacent tissues. Methylation and decreased mRNA expression of CBS were detected in most CRC cell lines by methylation-specific PCR and semiquantitative RT-PCR, as well as in gastric cancer. Treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and/or trichostatin A reversed methylation and restored CBS mRNA expression indicating a direct effect. Aberrant methylation was further detected in 31% of primary CRCs (29 of 96) and 55% of gastric tumors (11 of 20). In contrast, methylation was seldom found in normal tissues adjacent to the tumor. CBS methylation was associated with KRAS mutations in primary CRCs (P = 0.04, by χ2-test). However, no association was found between CBS methylation or KRAS mutations with cancer relapse/metastasis in Stage II CRC patients.
A novel finding from this study is that the folate metabolism enzyme CBS mRNA levels are frequently downregulated through CpG methylation of the CBS gene in gastric cancer and CRC, suggesting that CBS functions as a tumor suppressor gene. These findings warrant further study of CBS as an epigenetic biomarker for molecular diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers.
Breast and ovarian cancer are two of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in the United States. Overexpression of the HER2/neu oncoprotein has been reported in patients affected with breast and ovarian cancers, and is associated with poor prognosis. To develop a novel targeted therapy for HER2/neu expressing tumors, we have constructed a fully human IgE with the variable regions of the scFv C6MH3-B1 specific for HER2/neu. This antibody was expressed in murine myeloma cells and was properly assembled and secreted. The Fc region of this antibody triggers in vitro degranulation of rat basophilic cells expressing human FcεRI (RBL SX-38) in the presence of murine mammary carcinoma cells that express human HER2/neu (D2F2/E2), but not the shed (soluble) antigen (ECDHER2) alone. This IgE is also capable of inducing passive cutaneous anaphylaxis in a human FcεRIα transgenic mouse model, in the presence of a cross-linking antibody, but not in the presence of soluble ECDHER2. Additionally, IgE enhances antigen presentation in human dendritic cells and facilitates cross-priming, suggesting that the antibody is able to stimulate a secondary T-cell antitumor response. Furthermore, we show that this IgE significantly prolongs survival of human FcεRIα transgenic mice bearing D2F2/E2 tumors. We also report that the anti-HER2/neu IgE is well tolerated in a preliminary study conducted in Macaca fascicularis (cynomolgus) monkeys. In summary, our results suggest that this IgE should be further explored as a potential therapeutic against HER2/ neu overexpressing tumors, such as breast and ovarian cancers.
HER2/neu; IgE; Immunotherapy; Cancer; AllergoOncology
BACKGROUND: Aberrant DNA methylation has been recognized in human breast carcinogenesis as a common molecular alteration associated with the loss of expression of a number of key regulatory genes. The present study was undertaken to determine whether methylation and expression of p16 and FHIT genes would correlate with the estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status. METHODS: Methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction, messenger RNA (mRNA) expression analysis, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot analysis were performed to study the methylation of p16 and FHIT genes in 351 pairs of malignant/normal breast tissues. We examined the expression of ER and PR in those specimens by immunohistochemistry. Mutations of p16 and FHIT genes in tumors were detected by direct sequencing. RESULTS: The frequency of hypermethylation was 31.9% and 36.8% in p16 and FHIT genes, respectively, and showed significant harmony in concordant hypermethylation (P < .0001). In postmenopausal patients, methylation frequency in both genes is significantly higher in poorly and moderately differentiated tumors. Loss of protein expression of p16 and FHIT in 77 and 74 tumors, respectively, is associated with their methylation status in premenopausal women. CONCLUSION: We did not find any significant differences in tumor-related gene methylation patterns relevant to both ER and PR status of breast tumors.
Amplification and resulting overexpression of the HER-2/ neu proto-oncogene is found in approximately 30% of human breast and 20% of human ovarian cancers. To better understand the molecular events associated with overexpression of this gene in human breast cancer cells, differential hybridization was used to identify genes whose expression levels are altered in cells overexpressing this receptor. Of 16 000 clones screened from an overexpression cell cDNA library, a total of 19 non-redundant clones were isolated including seven whose expression decreases (C clones) and 12 which increase (H clones) in association with HER-2/ neu overexpression. Of these, five C clones and 11 H clones have been confirmed to be differentially expressed by northern blot analysis. This group includes nine genes of known function, three previously sequenced genes of relatively uncharacterized function and four novel genes without a match in GenBank. Examination of the previously characterized genes indicates that they represent sequences known to be frequently associated with the malignant phenotype, suggesting that the subtraction cloning strategy used identified appropriate target genes. In addition, differential expression of 12 of 16 (75%) cDNAs identified in the breast cancer cell lines are also seen in HER-2/ neu -overexpressing ovarian cancer cells, indicating that they represent generic associations with HER-2/ neu overexpression. Finally, up-regulation of two of the identified cDNAs, one novel and one identified but as yet uncharacterized gene, was confirmed in human breast cancer specimens in association with HER-2/ neu overexpression. Further characterization of these genes may yield insight into the fundamental biology and pathogenetic effects of HER-2/ neu overexpression in human breast and ovarian cancer cells.
The successful treatment of breast cancer is dependent upon a number of complex factors. Her-2/neu gene amplification is known to be one of the most common genetic alterations associated with breast cancer and its accurate determination has become necessary for the selection of patients for trastuzumab therapy.
The aim of this study was to prove the consistency of chromogenic in situ hybridisation (CISH) technique after analyzing the overexpression of the Her-2/neu proto-oncogene in 100 invasive breast carcinomas and by comparing CISH results with immunohistochemistry (IHC) and fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). Moreover, it was done to evaluate the possible correlation of estrogen (ERs) and progesterone receptors (PRs), the proliferation marker Ki67 and the tumour suppressor gene p53 with HER-2/neu status of these breast carcinomas.
Of the 100 breast carcinomas that were analysed, 22 cases showed HER-2/neu amplification, 66 cases showed no amplification, whereas 12 cases were non-interpretable in both assays (FISH and CISH). Consequently, the overall concordance between FISH and CISH was 100%. Additionally, it was observed that when HER-2/neu gene was overexpressed, there was an association with negative PRs and ERs status, negative p53 protein expression and high Ki67 labelling index.
It is concluded that patients with tumours scoring 2+ with the CBE356 antibody (borderline immunohistochemistry-tested cases) would also benefit from CISH as it is shown to be highly accurate, practical and can be easily integrated into routine testing in any histopathology laboratory. Finally, CISH represents an important addition to the HER2 testing algorithm.
breast cancer; CISH; FISH; HER-2/neu
Overexpression of insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF2) is a prominent characteristic of many epithelial ovarian malignancies. IGF2 imprinting and transcription are regulated in part through DNA methylation, which in turn regulates binding of the insulator protein CTCF within the IGF2/H19 imprint center. We have shown that IGF2 overexpression in ovarian cancer is associated with hypermethylation of CTCF binding sites within the IGF2/H19 imprint center. The aim of this study was to investigate the methylation and binding capacity of a novel putative CTCF binding motif located intragenic to IGF2 and determine how this relates to IGF2 expression. Among 35 primary serous epithelial ovarian cancer specimens, methylation of two CpGs, including one within the core binding motif and another adjacent to this motif, was higher in the 18 cancers with elevated IGF2 expression versus 10 with low expression (average 68.2 versus 38.5%; p < 0.0001). We also found that the CpG site within the CTCF binding motif is hypermethylated in male gametes (>92%; average 93.2%; N = 16). We confirmed binding of CTCF to this region in ovarian cancer cells, as well as the paralog of CTCF, Brother Of the Regulator of Imprinted Sites (BORIS), which is frequently overexpressed in cancers. The unmethylated CTCF binding motif has insulator activity in cells that express CTCF or BORIS, but not in cells that express both CTCF and BORIS. These intragenic CpG dinucleotides therefore comprise a novel paternal germline imprint mark and are located in a binding motif for the insulator protein CTCF. Methylation of the CpG dinucleotides is positively correlated with IGF2 transcription, indicating that increased methylation represses insulator function. These combined results suggest that methylation and CTCF binding at this region play important roles in regulating the level of IGF2 transcription. Our data have revealed a novel epigenetic regulatory element within the IGF2/H19 imprinted domain that is highly relevant to aberrant IGF2 expression in ovarian malignancies.
insulin-like growth factor 2; epithelial ovarian cancer; DNA methylation; chromatin immunoprecipitation; CTCF; spermatozoa; germline methylation; luciferase reporter assay
A majority of primary ovarian neoplasms arise from cell surface epithelium of the ovaries. Although old age and a positive family history are associated risk factors, the etiology of the epithelial ovarian tumors is not completely understood. Additionally, knowledge of factors involved in the histogenesis of the various subtypes of this tumor as well as those factors that promote progression to advanced stages of ovarian malignancy are largely unknown. Current evidence suggests that mitochondrial alterations involved in cellular signaling pathways may be associated with tumorigenesis.
In this study, we determined the presence of polymorphisms and other sequence variants of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in 102 epithelial ovarian tumors including 10 matched normal tissues that paired with some of the tumors. High-resolution restriction endonucleases and PCR-based sequencing were used to assess the mtDNA variants spanning 3.3 kb fragment that comprised the D-Loop and 12S rRNA-tRNAphe, tRNAval, tRNAser, tRNAasp, tRNAlys, ATPase 6, ATPase 8, cytochrome oxidase I and II genes.
Three hundred and fifty-two (352) mtDNA sequence variants were identified, of which 238 of 352 (68%) have not been previously reported. There were relatively high frequencies of three mutations in the 12S rRNA gene at np 772, 773, and 780 in stage IIIC endometrioid tumors, two of which are novel (773delT and 780delC), and occurred with a frequency of 100% (7/7). Furthermore, two mutations were observed in serous tumors only at np 1657 in stage IV (10/10), and at np 8221delA in benign cystadenomas (3/3) and borderline tumors (4/4). A high frequency, 81% (13/16) of TC insertion at np 310 was found only in early stages of serous subtype (benign cystadenomas, 3/3; borderline tumors, 4/4; stage I tumors, 2/5 and matched normal tissues 4/4).
Our findings indicate that certain mtDNA mutations can reliably distinguish the different histologic subtypes of epithelial ovarian tumors. In addition, these data raise the possibility that certain mtDNA mutations may be useful biomarkers for predicting tumor aggressiveness and may play a potential role in tumorigenesis.
Aims—To assess the expression of SIX5 (a homeobox gene) mRNA in surface coelomic epithelium, endocervical epithelium, Fallopian tube epithelium, and benign, borderline, and malignant epithelial ovarian tumours.
Methods—10 normal premenopausal ovaries, 10 normal Fallopian tubes, 10 normal cervices, 10 normal postmenopausal ovaries, 10 benign epithelial ovarian tumours, 10 malignant epithelial ovarian tumours, and 40 borderline epithelial ovarian tumours were studied retrospectively. The tissues had been fixed in formalin and embedded in paraffin wax. The tumours had previously been typed into mucinous, serous, or mixed tumours and assigned to the borderline category according to the FIGO/WHO criteria. Expression was assessed by in situ binding of SIX5 specific sense and antisense riboprobes. Hybridisation of the riboprobes was detected using a standard immunohistochemical technique and the results correlated with expression in the normal epithelium of the endocervix, Fallopian tube, surface coelomic epithelium, and ovarian tumours.
Results—Expression of SIX5 mRNA was demonstrated in normal Fallopian tube epithelium and normal endocervical epithelium. SIX5 mRNA was not detected in normal ovarian epithelial tissue at any of the times studied during the menstrual cycle. Expression of SIX5 was not shown in benign epithelial ovarian tumours or in any of the malignant epithelial ovarian tumours. In 31 of 37 borderline epithelial ovarian tumours (84%), SIX5 expression was found in the epithelial cells.
Conclusions—SIX5 expression is present in the normal epithelium throughout most of the female reproductive tract, suggesting it may have a role in maintaining epithelial differentiation in these tissues. SIX5 expression appears to be restricted to borderline epithelial ovarian tumours and may be a marker of epithelial differentiation in these tumours; thus borderline ovarian tumours may not be part of a continuum of disease between benign and malignant epithelial ovarian tumours. Further investigation of expression of SIX5 may clarify the molecular processes that promote differentiation of the ovarian surface epithelium.
Key Words: ovarian epithelial tumours • SIX5 • homeobox genes
Aberrant promoter CpG island hypermethylation is associated with transcriptional silencing. Tumor suppressor genes are the key targets of hypermethylation in breast cancer and therefore may lead to malignancy by deregulation of cell growth and division. Our previous pilot study with pairs of malignant and normal breast tissues identified correlated methylation of two pairs of genes - HIN-1/RASSFIA and RIL/CDH13 - with expression of estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and HER2 (HER2). To determine the impact of methylation on clinical outcome, we have conducted a larger study with breast cancers for which time to first recurrence and overall survival are known.
Tumors from 193 patients with early stage breast cancer who received no adjuvant systemic therapy were used to analyze methylation levels of RIL, HIN-1, RASSF1A and CDH13 genes for associations with known predictive and prognostic factors and for impact on time to first recurrence and overall survival.
In this study, we found that ER was associated with RASSF1A methylation (p < 0.001) and HIN-1 methylation (p = 0.002). PR was associated with RIL methylation (p = 0.012), HIN-1 (p = 0.002), and RASSF1A methylation (p = 0.019). Tumor size was associated with RIL and CDH13 methylation (both p = 0.002), and S-phase was associated with RIL methylation (p = 0.036). Only RASSF1A was associated with worse time to first recurrence (p = 0.045) and worse overall survival (p = 0.016) after adjusting for age, tumor size, S-phase, estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor.
Methylation of HIN-1, RASSF1A, RIL and CDH13 in breast cancers was associated with clinical characteristics, but only RASSF1A methylation was associated with time to first recurrence and overall survival. Our data suggest that RASSF1A methylation could be a potential prognostic biomarker.
Overexpression of the HER2/neu gene in breast cancer is associated with an increased incidence of metastatic disease and with a poor prognosis. Although passive immunotherapy with the humanized monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) has shown some effect, a vaccine capable of inducing T-cell and humoral immunity could be more effective.
Virus-like replicon particles (VRP) of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus containing the gene for HER2/neu (VRP-neu) were tested by an active immunotherapeutic approach in tumor prevention models and in a metastasis prevention model.
VRP-neu prevented or significantly inhibited the growth of HER2/neu-expressing murine breast cancer cells injected either into mammary tissue or intravenously. Vaccination with VRP-neu completely prevented tumor formation in and death of MMTV-c-neu transgenic mice, and resulted in high levels of neu-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes and serum IgG.
On the basis of these findings, clinical testing of this vaccine in patients with HER2/neu+ breast cancer is warranted.
adjuvant treatment; breast cancer; gene vaccines; immunotherapy; virus-like replicon particles
Accurate assessment of HER-2/neu status is crucial for proper prognostic information and to offer direct appropriate treatment for breast cancer patients. Next to immunohistochemistry (IHC) to evaluate HER2 protein overexpression, a second line gene amplification test is generally deemed necessary for cases with equivocal protein expression. Recently, a new PCR based test, called Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA), was introduced as a simple and quick method to assess HER-2/neu gene amplification status in invasive breast cancer. MLPA was previously shown to correlate well with IHC and in situ hybridization (ISH), but a low tumor percentage in the tissue tested could negatively affect the accuracy of MLPA results.
To examine this, MLPA was repeated in 42 patients after serial H&E section guided manual dissection with a scalpel and after laser microdissection of the tumor.
Both dissection techniques led to higher HER2 gene copy number ratios and thereby made MLPA more quantitative. Concordance between MLPA and ISH improved from 61% to 84% after manual microdissection and to 90% after laser microdissection.
Manual and laser microdissection similarly increase the dynamic range of MLPA copy number ratios which is a technical advantage. As clinically a dichotomization between normal and amplified suffices and MLPA is relatively unsensitive to tumor content, microdissection before MLPA may not be routinely necessary but may be advisable in case of very low tumor content (≤30%), when MLPA results are equivocal, or when extensive ductal carcinoma in situ is present. Since differences between manual and laser microdissection were small, less time consuming manual microdissection appears to be sufficient.
During the past decade there has been renewed interest in the use of vaccine immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. This review focuses on HER2/neu, a tumour-associated antigen that is overexpressed in 10–40% of breast cancers and other carcinomata. Several immunogenic HER2/neu peptides recognized by T lymphocytes have been identified to be included in cancer vaccines. Some of these peptides have been assessed in clinical trials of patients with breast and ovarian cancer. Although it has been possible to detect immunological responses against the peptides in the immunized patients, no clinical responses have so far been described. Immunological tolerance to self-antigens like HER2/neu may limit the functional immune responses against them. It will be of interest to determine whether immune responses against HER2/neu epitopes can be of relevance to cancer treatment.
cancer vaccines; HER2/neu peptides; immunotherapy; tumour antigens
Cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) are common forms of malignancy associated with tobacco and alcohol exposures, although human papillomavirus and nutritional deficiency are also important risk factors. While somatically acquired DNA methylation changes have been associated with UADT cancers, what triggers these events and precise epigenetic targets are poorly understood. In this study, we applied quantitative profiling of DNA methylation states in a panel of cancer-associated genes to a case-control study of UADT cancers. Our analyses revealed a high frequency of aberrant hypermethylation of several genes, including MYOD1, CHRNA3 and MTHFR in UADT tumors, whereas CDKN2A was moderately hypermethylated. Among differentially methylated genes, we identified a new gene (the nicotinic acetycholine receptor gene) as target of aberrant hypermethylation in UADT cancers, suggesting that epigenetic deregulation of nicotinic acetycholine receptors in non-neuronal tissues may promote the development of UADT cancers. Importantly, we found that sex and age is strongly associated with the methylation states, whereas tobacco smoking and alcohol intake may also influence the methylation levels in specific genes. This study identifies aberrant DNA methylation patterns in UADT cancers and suggests a potential mechanism by which environmental factors may deregulate key cellular genes involved in tumor suppression and contribute to UADT cancers.
DNA methylation; upper aerodigestive tract; cancer; risk factors; biomarkers