Gene promoter hypermethylation in sputum is a promising biomarker for predicting lung cancer. Identifying factors that predispose smokers to methylation of multiple gene promoters in the lung could impact strategies for early detection and chemoprevention. This study evaluated the hypothesis that double-strand break repair capacity and sequence variation in genes in this pathway are associated with a high methylation index in a cohort of current and former cancer-free smokers. A 50% reduction in the mean level of double-strand break repair capacity was seen in lymphocytes from smokers with a high methylation index, defined as ≥ 3 of 8 genes methylated in sputum, compared to smokers with no genes methylated. The classification accuracy for predicting risk for methylation was 88%. Single nucleotide polymorphisms within the MRE11A, CHEK2, XRCC3, DNA-Pkc, and NBN DNA repair genes were highly associated with the methylation index. A 14.5-fold increased odds for high methylation was seen for persons with ≥ 7 risk alleles of these genes. Promoter activity of the MRE11A gene that plays a critical role in recognition of DNA damage and activation of ATM was reduced in persons with the risk allele. Collectively, ours is the first population-based study to identify double-strand break DNA repair capacity and specific genes within this pathway as critical determinants for gene methylation in sputum, that is, in turn, associated with elevated risk for lung cancer.
promoter methylation; DNA double strand break; single nucleotide polymorphism; DNA repair capacity; association study
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.
Lung tumors; p16; MGMT; promoter methylation; never-smokers
Lung cancer, caused by smoking in ∼87% of cases, is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and Western Europe. Adenocarcinoma is now the most common type of lung cancer in men and women in the United States, and the histological subtype most frequently seen in never-smokers and former smokers. The increasing frequency of adenocarcinoma, which occurs more peripherally in the lung, is thought to be at least partially related to modifications in cigarette manufacturing that have led to a change in the depth of smoke inhalation. The rising incidence of lung adenocarcinoma and its lethal nature underline the importance of understanding the development and progression of this disease. Alterations in DNA methylation are recognized as key epigenetic changes in cancer, contributing to chromosomal instability through global hypomethylation, and aberrant gene expression through alterations in the methylation levels at promoter CpG islands. The identification of sequential changes in DNA methylation during progression and metastasis of lung adenocarcinoma, and the elucidation of their interplay with genetic changes, will broaden our molecular understanding of this disease, providing insights that may be applicable to the development of targeted drugs, as well as powerful markers for early detection and patient classification.
AAH; adenocarcinoma; BAC; CpG island; DNA methylation; hypermethylation; hypomethylation
The detection of gene promoter hypermethylation in sputum is a promising molecular marker for early lung cancer detection. Epidemiologic studies suggest that dietary fruits and vegetables and the micronutrients they contain may reduce risk of lung cancer. This investigation evaluated whether diet and multi-vitamin use influence the prevalence for gene methylation in the cells exfoliated from the aerodigestive tract of current and former smokers. Members (n = 1101) of the Lovelace Smokers Cohort completed the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire and provided a sputum sample that was assessed for promoter methylation of eight genes commonly silenced in lung cancer and associated with risk for this disease. Methylation status was categorized as low (< 2 genes methylated) or high (≥2 genes methylated). Logistic regression models were used to identify associations between methylation status and 21 dietary variables hypothesized to affect the acquisition of gene methylation. Significant protection against methylation was observed for leafy green vegetables (OR = 0.83 per 12 monthly servings, CI: 0.74, 0.93) and folate (OR = 0.84 per 750 mcg/day, CI: 0.72, 0.99). Protection against gene methylation was also seen with current use of multi-vitamins (OR = 0.57, CI: 0.40, 0.83). This is the first cohort-based study to identify dietary factors associated with reduced promoter methylation in cells exfoliated from the airway epithelium of smokers. Novel interventions to prevent lung cancer should be developed based on the ability of diet and dietary supplements to affect reprogramming of the epigenome.
gene methylation; folate; multi-vitamins; green vegetables; smokers
Epidemiological studies indicate that some characteristics of lung cancer among never-smokers significantly differ from those of smokers. Aberrant promoter methylation and mutations in some oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are frequent in lung tumors from smokers but rare in those from never-smokers. In this study, we analyzed promoter methylation in the ras-association domain isoform A (RASSF1A) and the death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) genes in lung tumors from patients with primarily non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from the Western Pennsylvania region. We compare the results with the smoking status of the patients and the mutation status of the K-ras, p53, and EGFR genes determined previously on these same lung tumors.
Promoter methylation of the RASSF1A and DAPK genes was analyzed by using a modified two-stage methylation-specific PCR. Data on mutations of K-ras, p53, and EGFR were obtained from our previous studies.
The RASSF1A gene promoter methylation was found in tumors from 46.7% (57/122) of the patients and was not significantly different between smokers and never-smokers, but was associated significantly in multiple variable analysis with tumor histology (p = 0.031) and marginally with tumor stage (p = 0.063). The DAPK gene promoter methylation frequency in these tumors was 32.8% (40/122) and did not differ according to the patients' smoking status, tumor histology, or tumor stage. Multivariate analysis adjusted for age, gender, smoking status, tumor histology and stage showed that the frequency of promoter methylation of the RASSF1A or DAPK genes did not correlate with the frequency of mutations of the K-ras, p53, and EGFR gene.
Our results showed that RASSF1A and DAPK genes' promoter methylation occurred frequently in lung tumors, although the prevalence of this alteration in these genes was not associated with the smoking status of the patients or the occurrence of mutations in the K-ras, p53 and EGFR genes, suggesting each of these events may represent independent event in non-small lung tumorigenesis.
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.
hypermethylation; large tumor suppressor gene; lung cancer
EGFR mutations underlie the sensitivity of lung cancers to erlotinib and gefitinib and can occur in any patient with this illness. Here we examine the frequency of EGFR mutations in smokers and men.
We determined the frequency of EGFR mutations and characterized their association with cigarette smoking status and male sex.
We tested 2,142 lung adenocarcinoma specimens for the presence of EGFR exon 19 deletions and L858R. EGFR mutations were found in 15% of tumors from former smokers (181 of 1,218; 95% CI, 13% to 17%), 6% from current smokers (20 of 344; 95% CI, 4% to 9%), and 52% from never smokers (302 of 580; 95% CI, 48% to 56%; P < .001 for ever v never smokers). EGFR mutations in former or current smokers represented 40% of all those detected (201 of 503; 95% CI, 36% to 44%). EGFR mutations were found in 19% (157 of 827; 95% CI, 16% to 22%) of tumors from men and 26% (346 of 1,315; 95% CI, 24% to 29%) of tumors from women (P < .001). EGFR mutations in men represented 31% (157 of 503; 95% CI, 27% to 35%) of all those detected.
A large number of EGFR mutations are found in adenocarcinoma tumor specimens from men and people who smoked cigarettes. If only women who were never smokers were tested, 57% of all EGFR mutations would be missed. Testing for EGFR mutations should be considered for all patients with adenocarcinoma of the lung at diagnosis, regardless of clinical characteristics. This strategy can extend the use of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors to the greatest number individuals with the potential for substantial benefit.
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.
To address the association between sequence variants within the MGMT promoter-enhancer region and methylation of MGMT in premalignant lesions from smokers and lung adenocarcinomas, their biological effects on gene regulation, and targeting MGMT for therapy.
SNPs identified through sequencing a 1.9kb fragment 5' of MGMT were examined in relation to MGMT methylation in 169 lung adenocarcinomas and 1731 sputum samples from smokers. The effect of promoter haplotypes on MGMT expression was tested using a luciferase reporter assay and cDNA expression analysis along with allele-specific sequencing for methylation. The response of MGMT methylated lung cancer cell lines to the alkylating agent temozolomide was assessed.
The A allele of rs16906252 and the haplotype containing this SNP were strongly associated with increased risk for MGMT methylation in adenocarcinomas (ORs ≥ 94). This association was observed to a lesser extent in sputum samples in both smoker cohorts. The A allele was selectively methylated in primary lung tumors and cell lines heterozygous for rs16906252. With the most common haplotype as the reference, a 20–41% reduction in promoter activity was seen for the haplotype carrying the A allele that correlated with lower MGMT expression. The sensitivity of lung cancer cell lines to temozolamide was strongly correlated with levels of MGMT methylation and expression.
These studies provide strong evidence that the A allele of a MGMT promoter-enhancer SNP is a key determinant for MGMT methylation in lung carcinogenesis. Moreover, temozolamide treatment may benefit a subset of lung cancer patients methylated for MGMT.
MGMT; allele specific methylation; single nucleotide polymorphism; sputum; lung cancer
It remains unknown whether tobacco smoke induces DNA hypermethylation as an early event in carcinogenesis or as a late event, specific to overt cancer tissue. Using MethyLight assays, we analyzed 316 lung tissue samples from 151 cancer-free subjects (121 ever-smokers and 30 never-smokers) for hypermethylation of 19 genes previously observed to be hypermethylated in nonsmall cell lung cancers. Only APC (39%), CCND2 (21%), CDH1 (7%), and RARB (4%) were hypermethylated in >2% of these cancer-free subjects. CCND2 was hypermethylated more frequently in ever-smokers (26%) than in never-smokers (3%). CCND2 hypermethylation was also associated with increased age and upper lobe sample location. APC was frequently hypermethylated in both ever-smokers (41%) and never-smokers (30%). BVES, CDH13, CDKN2A (p16), CDKN2B, DAPK1, IGFBP3, IGSF4, KCNH5, KCNH8, MGMT, OPCML, PCSK6, RASSF1, RUNX, and TMS1 were rarely hypermethylated (<2%) in all subjects. Hypermethylation of CCND2 may reflect a smoking-induced precancerous change in the lung.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Tobacco smoke exposure is the strongest aetiological factor associated with lung cancer. In this study, using serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), we comprehensively examined the effect of active smoking by comparing the transcriptomes of clinical specimens obtained from current, former and never smokers, and identified genes showing both reversible and irreversible expression changes upon smoking cessation.
Twenty-four SAGE profiles of the bronchial epithelium of eight current, twelve former and four never smokers were generated and analyzed. In total, 3,111,471 SAGE tags representing over 110 thousand potentially unique transcripts were generated, comprising the largest human SAGE study to date. We identified 1,733 constitutively expressed genes in current, former and never smoker transcriptomes. We have also identified both reversible and irreversible gene expression changes upon cessation of smoking; reversible changes were frequently associated with either xenobiotic metabolism, nucleotide metabolism or mucus secretion. Increased expression of TFF3, CABYR, and ENTPD8 were found to be reversible upon smoking cessation. Expression of GSK3B, which regulates COX2 expression, was irreversibly decreased. MUC5AC expression was only partially reversed. Validation of select genes was performed using quantitative RT-PCR on a secondary cohort of nine current smokers, seven former smokers and six never smokers.
Expression levels of some of the genes related to tobacco smoking return to levels similar to never smokers upon cessation of smoking, while expression of others appears to be permanently altered despite prolonged smoking cessation. These irreversible changes may account for the persistent lung cancer risk despite smoking cessation.
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.
Smoky coal emissions; Gene promoter methylation; Lung cancer
We previously demonstrated that stage IIIB/IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) never smokers lived 50% longer than former/current smokers. This observation persisted after adjusting for age, performance status, and gender. We hypothesized that smoking-dependent differences in the distribution of driver mutations might explain differences in prognosis between these subgroups.
We reviewed 293 never smokers and 382 former/current smokers with lung adenocarcinoma who underwent testing for EGFR and KRAS mutations and rearrangements in ALK between 2009 and 2010. Clinical outcomes and patient characteristics were collected. Survival probabilities were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Group comparison was performed with log-rank tests and Cox proportional hazards methods.
While the overall incidence of these mutations was nearly identical (55% never smokers vs. 57% current/former smokers, p=0.48), there were significant differences in the distribution of mutations between these groups: EGFR mutations- 37% never smokers vs. 14% former/current smokers (p<0.0001); KRAS mutations- 4% never smokers vs. 43% former/current smokers (p<0.0001); ALK rearrangements- 12% never smokers vs. 2% former/current smokers (p<0.0001). Among never smokers and former/current smokers, prognosis differed significantly by genotype. Patients harboring KRAS mutations demonstrated the poorest survival. Smoking status, however, had no influence on survival within each genotype.
Never smokers and former/current smokers with lung adenocarcinomas are not homogeneous subgroups. Each is made up of individuals whose tumors have a unique distribution of driver mutations which are associated with different prognoses, irrespective of smoking history.
non-small cell lung cancer; adenocarcinoma; EGFR; KRAS; ALK; never smoker
Tobacco smoking is responsible for over 90% of lung cancer cases, and yet the precise molecular alterations induced by smoking in lung that develop into cancer and impact survival have remained obscure.
We performed gene expression analysis using HG-U133A Affymetrix chips on 135 fresh frozen tissue samples of adenocarcinoma and paired noninvolved lung tissue from current, former and never smokers, with biochemically validated smoking information. ANOVA analysis adjusted for potential confounders, multiple testing procedure, Gene Set Enrichment Analysis, and GO-functional classification were conducted for gene selection. Results were confirmed in independent adenocarcinoma and non-tumor tissues from two studies. We identified a gene expression signature characteristic of smoking that includes cell cycle genes, particularly those involved in the mitotic spindle formation (e.g., NEK2, TTK, PRC1). Expression of these genes strongly differentiated both smokers from non-smokers in lung tumors and early stage tumor tissue from non-tumor tissue (p<0.001 and fold-change >1.5, for each comparison), consistent with an important role for this pathway in lung carcinogenesis induced by smoking. These changes persisted many years after smoking cessation. NEK2 (p<0.001) and TTK (p = 0.002) expression in the noninvolved lung tissue was also associated with a 3-fold increased risk of mortality from lung adenocarcinoma in smokers.
Our work provides insight into the smoking-related mechanisms of lung neoplasia, and shows that the very mitotic genes known to be involved in cancer development are induced by smoking and affect survival. These genes are candidate targets for chemoprevention and treatment of lung cancer in smokers.
Lung cancer is the worldwide leading cause of death from cancer. Tobacco usage is the major pathogenic factor, but all lung cancers are not attributable to smoking. Specifically, lung cancer in never-smokers has been suggested to represent a distinct disease entity compared to lung cancer arising in smokers due to differences in etiology, natural history and response to specific treatment regimes. However, the genetic aberrations that differ between smokers and never-smokers’ lung carcinomas remain to a large extent unclear.
Unsupervised gene expression analysis of 39 primary lung adenocarcinomas was performed using Illumina HT-12 microarrays. Results from unsupervised analysis were validated in six external adenocarcinoma data sets (n=687), and six data sets comprising normal airway epithelial or normal lung tissue specimens (n=467). Supervised gene expression analysis between smokers and never-smokers were performed in seven adenocarcinoma data sets, and results validated in the six normal data sets.
Initial unsupervised analysis of 39 adenocarcinomas identified two subgroups of which one harbored all never-smokers. A generated gene expression signature could subsequently identify never-smokers with 79-100% sensitivity in external adenocarcinoma data sets and with 76-88% sensitivity in the normal materials. A notable fraction of current/former smokers were grouped with never-smokers. Intriguingly, supervised analysis of never-smokers versus smokers in seven adenocarcinoma data sets generated similar results. Overlap in classification between the two approaches was high, indicating that both approaches identify a common set of samples from current/former smokers as potential never-smokers. The gene signature from unsupervised analysis included several genes implicated in lung tumorigenesis, immune-response associated pathways, genes previously associated with smoking, as well as marker genes for alveolar type II pneumocytes, while the best classifier from supervised analysis comprised genes strongly associated with proliferation, but also genes previously associated with smoking.
Based on gene expression profiling, we demonstrate that never-smokers can be identified with high sensitivity in both tumor material and normal airway epithelial specimens. Our results indicate that tumors arising in never-smokers, together with a subset of tumors from smokers, represent a distinct entity of lung adenocarcinomas. Taken together, these analyses provide further insight into the transcriptional patterns occurring in lung adenocarcinoma stratified by smoking history.
Lung cancer; Smoking; Gene expression analysis; Adenocarcinoma; EGFR; Never-smokers; Immune response
This study was designed to determine the relationship of cigarette smoking to the frequency and qualitative differences among KRAS mutations in lung adenocarcinomas from Korean patients.
Materials and Methods
Detailed smoking histories were obtained from 200 consecutively enrolled patients with lung adenocarcinoma according to a standard protocol. EGFR (exons 18 to 21) and KRAS (codons 12/13) mutations were determined via direct-sequencing.
The incidence of KRAS mutations was 8% (16 of 200) in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. KRAS mutations were found in 5.8% (7 of 120) of tumors from never-smokers, 15% (6 of 40) from former-smokers, and 7.5% (3 of 40) from current-smokers. The frequency of KRAS mutations did not differ significantly according to smoking history (p=0.435). Never-smokers were significantly more likely than former or current smokers to have a transition mutation (G→A or C→T) rather than a transversion mutation (G→T or G→C) that is known to be smoking-related (p=0.011). In a Cox regression model, the adjusted hazard ratios for the risk of progression with epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) were 0.24 (95% CI, 0.14-0.42; p<0.001) for the EGFR mutation and 1.27 (95% CI, 0.58-2.79; p=0.537) for the KRAS mutation.
Cigarette smoking did not influence the frequency of KRAS mutations in lung adenocarcinomas in Korean patients, but influenced qualitative differences in the KRAS mutations.
EGFR; KRAS; pulmonary adenocarcinoma; cigarette smoking; EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors
Oligonucleotide microarray analysis revealed 175 genes that are differentially expressed in large airway epithelial cells of people who currently smoke compared with those who never smoked, with 28 classified as irreversible, 6 as slowly reversible, and 139 as rapidly reversible.
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the US. The risk of dying from smoking-related diseases remains elevated for former smokers years after quitting. The identification of irreversible effects of tobacco smoke on airway gene expression may provide insights into the causes of this elevated risk.
Using oligonucleotide microarrays, we measured gene expression in large airway epithelial cells obtained via bronchoscopy from never, current, and former smokers (n = 104). Linear models identified 175 genes differentially expressed between current and never smokers, and classified these as irreversible (n = 28), slowly reversible (n = 6), or rapidly reversible (n = 139) based on their expression in former smokers. A greater percentage of irreversible and slowly reversible genes were down-regulated by smoking, suggesting possible mechanisms for persistent changes, such as allelic loss at 16q13. Similarities with airway epithelium gene expression changes caused by other environmental exposures suggest that common mechanisms are involved in the response to tobacco smoke. Finally, using irreversible genes, we built a biomarker of ever exposure to tobacco smoke capable of classifying an independent set of former and current smokers with 81% and 100% accuracy, respectively.
We have categorized smoking-related changes in airway gene expression by their degree of reversibility upon smoking cessation. Our findings provide insights into the mechanisms leading to reversible and persistent effects of tobacco smoke that may explain former smokers increased risk for developing tobacco-induced lung disease and provide novel targets for chemoprophylaxis. Airway gene expression may also serve as a sensitive biomarker to identify individuals with past exposure to tobacco smoke.
The detection of tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation in sputum-derived exfoliated cells predicts early lung cancer. Here we identified genetic determinants for this epigenetic process and examined their biological effects on gene regulation. A two-stage approach involving discovery and replication was employed to assess the association between promoter hypermethylation of a 12-gene panel and common variation in 40 genes involved in carcinogen metabolism, regulation of methylation, and DNA damage response in members of the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (n=1434). Molecular validation of three identified variants was conducted using primary bronchial epithelial cells. Association of study-wide significance (P<8.2×10−5) was identified for rs1641511, rs3730859, and rs1883264 in TP53, LIG1, and BIK, respectively. These SNPs were significantly associated with altered expression of the corresponding genes in primary bronchial epithelial cells. In addition, rs3730859 in LIG1 was also moderately associated with increased risk for lung cancer among Caucasian smokers. Together, our findings suggest that genetic variation in DNA replication and apoptosis pathways impacts the propensity for gene promoter hypermethylation in the aerodigestive tract of smokers. The incorporation of genetic biomarkers for gene promoter hypermethylation with clinical and somatic markers may improve risk assessment models for lung cancer.
DNA damage response; promoter hypermethylation; single nucleotide polymorphism; sputum; smoker
Erlotinib is clinically effective in patients with non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have adenocarcinoma, are never or limited former smokers, or have EGFR mutant tumors. We investigated the efficacy of erlotinib alone or in combination with chemotherapy in patients with these characteristics.
Patients and Methods
Patients with advanced NSCLC (adenocarcinoma) who were epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor and chemotherapy naive never or light former smokers (smokers of > 100 cigarettes and ≤ 10 pack years and quit ≥ 1 year ago) were randomly assigned to continuous erlotinib or in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel (ECP) for six cycles followed by erlotinib alone. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). Tissue collection was mandatory.
PFS was similar (5.0 v 6.6 months; P = .1988) in patients randomly assigned to erlotinib alone (arm A; n = 81) or to ECP (arm B; n = 100). EGFR mutation analysis was possible in 91% (164 of 181) of patients, and EGFR mutations were detected in 40% (51 of 128) of never smokers and in 42% (15 of 36) of light former smokers. In arm A, response rate (70% v 9%), PFS (14.1 v 2.6 months), and overall survival (OS; 31.3 v 18.1 month) favored EGFR-mutant patients. In arm B, response rate (73% v 30%), PFS (17.2 v 4.8 months), and OS (38.1 v 14.4 months) favored EGFR-mutant patients. Incidence of grades 3 to 4 hematologic (2% v 49%; P < .001) and nonhematologic (24% v 52%; P < .001) toxicity was greater in patients treated with ECP.
Erlotinib and erlotinib plus chemotherapy have similar efficacy in clinically selected populations of patients with advanced NSCLC. EGFR mutations identify patients most likely to benefit.
Aberrant methylation of promoter DNA and transcriptional repression of specific tumor suppressor genes play an important role in carcinogenesis. Recently, many studies have investigated the association between cigarette smoking and p16INK4α gene hypermethylation in lung cancer, but could not reach a unanimous conclusion.
Methods and Findings
Nineteen cross-sectional studies on the association between cigarette smoking and p16INK4α methylation in surgically resected tumor tissues from non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients were identified in PubMed database until June 2011. For each study, a 2×2 cross-table was extracted. In total, 2,037 smoker and 765 nonsmoker patients were pooled with a fixed-effects model weighting for the inverse of the variance. Overall, the frequency of p16INK4α hypermethylation was higher in NSCLC patients with smoking habits than that in non-smoking patients (OR = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.81–2.80). The positive association between cigarette smoking and p16INK4α hypermethylation was similar in adenocarcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma. In the stratified analyses, the association was stronger in Asian patients and in the studies with larger sample sizes.
Cigarette smoking is positively correlated to p16INK4α gene hypermethylation in NSCLC patients.
Gene promoter hypermethylation is now regarded as a promising biomarker for the risk and progression of lung cancer. The one-carbon metabolism pathway is postulated to affect deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation because it is responsible for the generation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), the methyl donor for cellular methylation reactions. This study investigated the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six one-carbon metabolism-related genes with promoter hypermethylation in sputum DNA from non-Hispanic white smokers in the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (LSC) (n = 907). Logistic regression was used to assess the association of SNPs with hypermethylation using a high/low methylation cutoff. SNPs in the cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase reductase (MTRR) genes were significantly associated with high methylation in males [CBS rs2850146 (-8283G > C),
OR = 4.9; 95% CI: 1.98, 12.2, P = 0.0006] and low methylation in females [MTRR rs3776467 (7068A > G), OR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.42, 0.77, P = 0.0003]. The variant allele of rs2850146 was associated with reduced gene expression and increased plasma homocysteine (Hcy) concentrations. Three plasma metabolites, Hcy, methionine and dimethylglycine, were associated with increased risk for gene methylation. These studies suggest that SNPs in CBS and MTRR have sex-specific associations with aberrant methylation in the lung epithelium of smokers that could be mediated by the affected one-carbon metabolism and transsulfuration in the cells.
Abbreviations:CBScystathionine beta synthaseDNAdeoxyribonucleic acidHBEChuman bronchial epithelial cellHcyhomocysteineLD, linkage disequilibrium; LSClovelace Smokers CohortMAFminor allele frequencyMTHFRmethylenetetrahydrofolate reductaseMTRRmethyltransferase reductaseSNPsingle nucleotide polymorphismsSAHS-adenosylhomocysteineSAMS-adenosylmethionine
Epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, are a common finding in cancer. In lung cancers methylation of cytosine residues may affect tumor initiation and progression in several ways, including the silencing of tumor suppressor genes through promoter methylation and by providing the targets for adduct formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons present in combustion products of cigarette smoke. Although the importance of aberrant DNA methylation is well established, the extent of DNA methylation in lung cancers has never been determined. Restriction landmark genomic scanning (RLGS) is a highly reproducible two-dimensional gel electrophoresis that allows the determination of the methylation status of up to 2000 promoter sequences in a single gel. We selected 1184 CpG islands for RLGS analysis and determined their methylation status in 16 primary non-small cell lung cancers. Some tumors did not show methylation whereas others showed up to 5.3% methylation in all CpG islands of the profile. Cloning of 21 methylated loci identified 11 genes and 6 ESTs. We demonstrate that methylation is part of the silencing process of BMP3B in primary tumors and lung cancer cell lines.
non-small cell lung cancer; DNA methylation; RLGS; genome scanning; epigenetic
Cigarette smoke creates a molecular field of injury in epithelial cells that line the respiratory tract. We hypothesized that transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) will enhance our understanding of the field of molecular injury in response to tobacco smoke exposure and lung cancer pathogenesis by identifying gene expression differences not interrogated or accurately measured by microarrays. We sequenced the high-molecular-weight fraction of total RNA (>200 nt) from pooled bronchial airway epithelial cell brushings (n = 3 patients per pool) obtained during bronchoscopy from healthy never smoker (NS) and current smoker (S) volunteers and smokers with (C) and without (NC) lung cancer undergoing lung nodule resection surgery. RNA-Seq libraries were prepared using 2 distinct approaches, one capable of capturing non-polyadenylated RNA (the prototype NuGEN Ovation RNA-Seq protocol) and the other designed to measure only polyadenylated RNA (the standard Illumina mRNA-Seq protocol) followed by sequencing generating approximately 29 million 36 nt reads per pool and approximately 22 million 75 nt paired-end reads per pool, respectively. The NuGEN protocol captured additional transcripts not detected by the Illumina protocol at the expense of reduced coverage of polyadenylated transcripts, while longer read lengths and a paired-end sequencing strategy significantly improved the number of reads that could be aligned to the genome. The aligned reads derived from the two complementary protocols were used to define the compendium of genes expressed in the airway epithelium (n = 20,573 genes). Pathways related to the metabolism of xenobiotics by cytochrome P450, retinol metabolism, and oxidoreductase activity were enriched among genes differentially expressed in smokers, whereas chemokine signaling pathways, cytokine–cytokine receptor interactions, and cell adhesion molecules were enriched among genes differentially expressed in smokers with lung cancer. There was a significant correlation between the RNA-Seq gene expression data and Affymetrix microarray data generated from the same samples (P < 0.001); however, the RNA-Seq data detected additional smoking- and cancer-related transcripts whose expression was were either not interrogated by or was not found to be significantly altered when using microarrays, including smoking-related changes in the inflammatory genes S100A8 and S100A9 and cancer-related changes in MUC5AC and secretoglobin (SCGB3A1). Quantitative real-time PCR confirmed differential expression of select genes and non-coding RNAs within individual samples. These results demonstrate that transcriptome sequencing has the potential to provide new insights into the biology of the airway field of injury associated with smoking and lung cancer. The measurement of both coding and non-coding transcripts by RNA-Seq has the potential to help elucidate mechanisms of response to tobacco smoke and to identify additional biomarkers of lung cancer risk and novel targets for chemoprevention.
Prior microarray studies of smokers at high risk for lung cancer have demonstrated that heterogeneity in bronchial airway epithelial cell gene expression response to smoking can serve as an early diagnostic biomarker for lung cancer. As a first step in applying functional genomic analysis to population studies, we have examined the relationship between gene expression variation and genetic variation in a central molecular pathway (NRF2-mediated antioxidant response) associated with smoking exposure and lung cancer. We assessed global gene expression in histologically normal airway epithelial cells obtained at bronchoscopy from smokers who developed lung cancer (SC, n = 20), smokers without lung cancer (SNC, n = 24), and never smokers (NS, n = 8). Functional enrichment analysis showed that the NRF2-mediated, antioxidant response element (ARE)-regulated genes, were significantly lower in SC, when compared with expression levels in SNC. Importantly, we found that the expression of MAFG (a binding partner of NRF2) was correlated with the expression of ARE genes, suggesting MAFG levels may limit target gene induction. Bioinformatically we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in putative ARE genes and to test the impact of genetic variation, we genotyped these putative regulatory SNPs and other tag SNPs in selected NRF2 pathway genes. Sequencing MAFG locus, we identified 30 novel SNPs and two were associated with either gene expression or lung cancer status among smokers. This work demonstrates an analysis approach that integrates bioinformatics pathway and transcription factor binding site analysis with genotype, gene expression and disease status to identify SNPs that may be associated with individual differences in gene expression and/or cancer status in smokers. These polymorphisms might ultimately contribute to lung cancer risk via their effect on the airway gene expression response to tobacco-smoke exposure.
Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and a significant cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Prior studies have demonstrated that smoking creates a field of molecular injury throughout the airway epithelium exposed to cigarette smoke. We have previously characterized gene expression in the bronchial epithelium of never smokers and identified the gene expression changes that occur in the mainstem bronchus in response to smoking. In this study, we explored relationships in whole-genome gene expression between extrathorcic (buccal and nasal) and intrathoracic (bronchial) epithelium in healthy current and never smokers.
Using genes that have been previously defined as being expressed in the bronchial airway of never smokers (the "normal airway transcriptome"), we found that bronchial and nasal epithelium from non-smokers were most similar in gene expression when compared to other epithelial and nonepithelial tissues, with several antioxidant, detoxification, and structural genes being highly expressed in both the bronchus and nose. Principle component analysis of previously defined smoking-induced genes from the bronchus suggested that smoking had a similar effect on gene expression in nasal epithelium. Gene set enrichment analysis demonstrated that this set of genes was also highly enriched among the genes most altered by smoking in both nasal and buccal epithelial samples. The expression of several detoxification genes was commonly altered by smoking in all three respiratory epithelial tissues, suggesting a common airway-wide response to tobacco exposure.
Our findings support a relationship between gene expression in extra- and intrathoracic airway epithelial cells and extend the concept of a smoking-induced field of injury to epithelial cells that line the mouth and nose. This relationship could potentially be utilized to develop a non-invasive biomarker for tobacco exposure as well as a non-invasive screening or diagnostic tool providing information about individual susceptibility to smoking-induced lung diseases.