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.
Aberrant DNA methylation is an important epigenetic alteration in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the molecular processes underlying the methylator phenotype and the contribution of hepatitis viruses are poorly understood. The current study is a comprehensive methylation analysis of human liver tissue specimens. A total of 176 liver tissues, including 77 pairs of HCCs and matching noncancerous liver and 22 normal livers, were analyzed for methylation. Methylation of 19 epigenetic markers was quantified, and the results were correlated with different disease states and the presence or absence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Based on methylation profiles, the 19 loci were categorized into 3 groups. Normal liver tissues showed methylation primarily in group 1 loci (HIC-1, CASP8, GSTP1, SOCS1, RASSF1A, p16, APC), which was significantly higher than group 2 (CDH1, RUNX3, RIZ1, SFRP2, MINT31) and group 3 markers (COX2, MINT1, CACNA1G, RASSF2, MINT2, Reprimo, DCC) (P < 0.0001). Noncancerous livers demonstrated increased methylation in both group 1 and group 2 loci. Methylation was significantly more abundant in HCV-positive livers compared with normal liver tissues. Conversely, HCC showed frequent methylation at each locus investigated in all 3 groups. However, the group 3 loci showed more dense and frequent methylation in HCV-positive cancers compared with both HBV-positive cancers and virus-negative cancers (P < 0.0001).
Methylation in HCC is frequent but occurs in a gene-specific and disease-specific manner. Methylation profiling allowed us to determine that aberrant methylation is commonly present in normal aging livers, and sequentially progresses with advancing stages of chronic viral infection. Finally, our data provide evidence that HCV infection may accelerate the methylation process and suggests a continuum of increasing methylation with persistent viral infection and carcinogenesis in the liver.
Gene silencing due to aberrant DNA methylation is a frequent event in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and also in hepatocellular adenoma (HCA). However, very little is known about epigenetic defects in fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC), a rare variant of hepatocellular carcinoma that displays distinct clinical and morphological features.
We analyzed the methylation status of the APC, CDH1, cyclinD2, GSTπ1, hsa-mir-9-1, hsa-mir-9-2, and RASSF1A gene in a series of 15 FLC and paired normal liver tissue specimens by quantitative high-resolution pyrosequencing. Results were compared with common HCC arising in non-cirrhotic liver (n = 10). Frequent aberrant hypermethylation was found for the cyclinD2 (19%) and the RASSF1A (38%) gene as well as for the microRNA genes mir-9-1 (13%) and mir-9-2 (33%). In contrast to common HCC the APC and CDH1 (E-cadherin) genes were found devoid of any DNA methylation in FLC, whereas the GSTπ1 gene showed comparable DNA methylation in tumor and surrounding tissue at a moderate level. Changes in global DNA methylation level were measured by analyzing methylation status of the highly repetitive LINE-1 sequences. No evidence of global hypomethylation could be found in FLCs, whereas HCCs without cirrhosis showed a significant reduction in global methylation level as described previously.
FLCs display frequent and distinct gene-specific hypermethylation in the absence of significant global hypomethylation indicating that these two epigenetic aberrations are induced by different pathways and that full-blown malignancy can develop in the absence of global loss of DNA methylation. Only quantitative DNA methylation detection methodology was able to identify these differences.
Background: Promoter methylation is a common epigenetic mechanism to silence tumor suppressor genes during breast cancer development. We investigated whether BRCA1-associated breast tumors show cancer-predictive methylation patterns similar to those found in sporadic tumors.
Patients and methods: Quantitative multiplex methylation-specific PCR of 11 genes involved in breast carcinogenesis (RARB, RASSF1, TWIST1, CCND2, ESR1, SCGB3A1, BRCA1, BRCA2, CDKN2A, APC, CDH1) was carried out on 32 BRCA1-associated and 46 sporadic breast carcinomas and on normal breast tissue from seven BRCA1 mutation carriers and 13 non-carriers.
Results: The extent of cumulative methylation increased with age (P < 0.001). The median cumulative methylation index (CMI) of all studied genes was significantly higher in tumors (89) than in normal tissue (13, P < 0.001). The median CMI was significantly lower in BRCA1-associated (59) than in sporadic breast tumors (122, P = 0.001), in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors (73) than in ER-positive tumors (122, P = 0.005) and in lymph node-negative (77) compared with lymph node-positive tumors (137, P = 0.007). In subgroup analysis, the effect of a BRCA1 germline mutation on methylation proved to be independent of ER status, lymph node status and age.
Conclusions: These data indicate that BRCA1-associated breast cancers show less promoter methylation compared with sporadic breast carcinomas indicating a difference in disease etiology.
BRCA1; breast cancer; hereditary; methylation; QM-MSP
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is highly malignant and prone to multicentric occurrence. Differentiation between a true relapse of HCC and a second primary tumour appearing is of clinical importance. At this point, no convenient method is available to determine the origin of these HCCs. Tissue samples were obtained from 19 patients and analysed for the promoter hypermethylation status of multiple tumour suppressor genes (p16, DAP-Kinase, MGMT, GSTP1, APC, RIZ1, SFRP1, SFRP2, SFRP5, RUNX3, and SOCS1) using methylation-specific PCR (MSP). Methylation status was used to determine tumour clonality. In each of the 19 cases, at least one tumour was recognised as having an aberrantly methylated gene. The frequency of the methylation in tumour tissue was 57.1% in p16, 2.4% in DAP-kinase, 23.8% in GSTP1, 90.5% in APC, 45.2% in RIZ1, 64.3% in SFRP1, 59.5% in SFRP2, 28.6% in SFRP5, 47.6% in RUNX3, and 54.8% in SOCS1, while in MGMT, no aberrant methylation was detected. The methylation status of these genes was assessed using MSP as being either positive or negative, and was used to determine the tumour clonality. The clonality of every tumour could be decided even with lesions that could not be judged by clinical diagnosis or by another molecular method (mt DNA mutation). Determining the methylation status of multiple genes in multicentric HCC was useful as a clonal marker and provided useful information for characterising the tumour. From our findings, multicentric HCCs tend to occur more independently than metastatically from the original tumour. Expanded study should be pursued further for a better understanding of the molecular mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis.
hepatocellular carcinoma; multicentric occurrence; promoter hypermethylation; clonality; real-time methylation specific PCR
AIM: To evaluate the clinical significance of CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) in plasma and its association with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progress.
METHODS: CIMP status of 108 HCC patients was analyzed using a methylation marker panel in tumor tissues and plasma with methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. Fifteen samples of non-neoplastic liver tissues and 60 of plasma from healthy persons were examined simultaneously. Examined genes included APC, WIF-1, RUNX-3, DLC-1, SFRP-1, DKK and E-cad.
RESULTS: The frequencies of high-level methylation in HCC tissue and plasma were at least 15% for the seven genes: APC, 48/108, 44.44% in tissue and 26/108, 24.07% in plasma; WIF-1, 53/108, 49.07% in tissue and 35/108, 32.41% in plasma; RUNX-3, 52/108, 48.14% in tissue and 42/108, 38.89% in plasma; DLC-1, 38/108, 35.18% in tissue and 23/108, 21.30% in plasma; SFRP-1, 40/108, 37.04% in tissue and 31/108, 28.7% in plasma; DKK, 39/108, 36.1% in tissue and 25/108, 23.14% in plasma; and E-cad, 37/108, 34.3% in tissue and 18/108, 16.67% in plasma. CIMP+ (≥ 3 methylated genes) was detected in 68 (60.2%) tumor tissue samples and 62 (57.4%) plasma samples. CIMP was not detected in non-neoplastic liver tissues or plasma of healthy persons. CIMP status in tumor tissues differed significantly in gender, hepatitis B surface antigen, alpha-fetoprotein, and tumor-node-metastasis stage (P < 0.05). Similar results were obtained with plasma samples (P < 0.05). There was no difference in CIMP status in age, presence of hepatitis C virus antibody, cirrhosis, number of nodes, number of tumors, tumor size, or Edmondson-Steiner stage. A one-year follow-up found that the metastatic rate and recurrence rate in the CIMP+ group were significantly higher than in the CIMP- group as assessed with plasma samples (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Plasma DNA can be a reliable sample source for CIMP analysis. CIMP in plasma may serve as a molecular marker of late-stage and poor-prognosis HCC.
CpG island methylator phenotype; Methylation; Plasma; Prognosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma
The product of CDKN2A, p16 is an essential regulator of the cell cycle controlling the entry into the S-phase. Herein, we evaluated CDKN2A promoter methylation and p16 protein expression for the differentiation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from other liver tumors.
Tumor and corresponding non-tumor liver tissue samples were obtained from 85 patients with liver tumors. CDKN2A promoter methylation was studied using MethyLight technique and methylation-specific PCR (MSP). In the MethyLight analysis, samples with ≥ 4% of PMR (percentage of methylated reference) were regarded as hypermethylated. p16 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in tissue sections (n = 148) obtained from 81 patients using an immunoreactivity score (IRS) ranging from 0 (no expression) to 6 (strong expression).
Hypermethylation of the CDKN2A promoter was found in 23 HCCs (69.7%; mean PMR = 42.34 ± 27.8%), six (20.7%; mean PMR = 31.85 ± 18%) liver metastases and in the extralesional tissue of only one patient. Using MSP, 32% of the non-tumor (n = 85), 70% of the HCCs, 40% of the CCCs and 24% of the liver metastases were hypermethylated. Correspondingly, nuclear p16 expression was found immunohistochemically in five (10.9%, mean IRS = 0.5) HCCs, 23 (92%; mean IRS = 4.9) metastases and only occasionally in hepatocytes of non-lesional liver tissues (mean IRS = 1.2). The difference of CDKN2A-methylation and p16 protein expression between HCCs and liver metastases was statistically significant (p < 0.01, respectively).
Promoter methylation of CDKN2A gene and lack of p16 expression characterize patients with HCC.
Hypermethylation of the promoter of the tumor suppressor gene, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), occurs in various malignancies, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, reports on the specificity of the methylation of the APC gene for HCC have varied. To gain insight into how these variations occur, bisulfite PCR sequencing was performed to analyze the methylation status of both sense and antisense strands of the APC gene in samples of HCC tissue, matched adjacent non-HCC liver tissue, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and normal liver tissues. DNA derived from fetal liver and 12 nonhepatic normal tissue was also examined. These experiments revealed liver-specific, antisense strand-biased CpG methylation of the APC gene and suggested that, although methylation of the antisense strand of the APC gene exists in normal liver and other non-HCC disease liver tissue, methylation of the sense strand of the APC gene occurs predominantly in HCC. To determine the effect of the DNA strand on the specificity of the methylated APC gene as a biomarker for HCC detection, quantitative methylation-specific PCR assays for sense and antisense strand DNA were developed and performed on DNA isolated from HCC (n = 58), matched adjacent non-HCC (n = 58), cirrhosis (n = 41), and hepatitis (n = 39). Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed. With the cutoff value set at the limit of detection, the specificity of sense and antisense strand methylation was 84% and 43%, respectively, and sensitivity was 67.2% and 72.4%, respectively. This result demonstrated that the identity of the methylated DNA strand impacted the specificity of APC for HCC detection. Interestingly, methylation of the sense strand of APC occurred in 40% of HCCs from patients with serum AFP levels less than 20 ng/mL, suggesting a potential role for APC as a biomarker to complement AFP in HCC screening.
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.
Tumor-related methylated DNA and circulating tumor cells (CTC) in the peripheral blood might be of prognostic importance in breast cancer. Thus, the aim of our study was to examine free methylated DNA and CTC in the blood from breast cancer patients and to correlate it with clinicopathological features known to influence prognosis.
Materials and methods
We prospectively obtained serum samples from 85 patients with breast cancer and 22 healthy volunteers. Sera were analysed by methylation specific PCR (MethyLight PCR) for five genes: adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), ras association domain family protein 1A (RASSF1A), estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1), CDKN2A (p16) and glutathione s-transferase pi 1 (GSTP1). Beta actin (ACTB) served as control. In parallel matched peripheral blood of 63 patients was used to assay for circulating tumor cells in the peripheral blood by a modified immunomagnetic AdnaTest BreastCancerSelect with PCR detection for EPCAM, MUC1, MGB1 and SPDEF.
We found a hypermethylation in the APC gene in 29% (25/85), in RASSF1A in 26% (22/85), in GSTP1 in 18% (14/76) and in ESR1 in 38% (32/85) of all breast cancer patients. No hypermethylation of CDKN2A was found (0/25). Blood samples of patients were defined CTC positive by detecting the EPCAM 13% (8/63), MUC1 16% (10/63), MGB 9% (5/55), SPDEF 12% (7/58) and in 27% detecting one or more genes (15/55). A significant difference was seen in methylated APC DNA between cancer patients and healthy volunteers. Moreover, methylated APC, RASSF1 and CTC were significantly different in metastatic versus non-metastatic disease. In addition, the presence of methylated APC, RASSF1A and CTC correlated significantly with AJCC-staging (p = 0.001, p = 0.031 and 0.002, respectively). High incidences of methylations were found for the genes RASSF1 and ESR1 in healthy individuals (both 23% 5/22). Methylated GSTP1 was predominantly found in the serum of patients with large primaries (p = 0.023) and was highly significantly correlated with positive Her2/neu status (p = 0.003). Elevated serum CA15.3 was strongly correlated with methylated APC and CTC detection (both p = 0.000). Methylated ESR1 failed to exhibit significant correlations with any of the above mentioned parameters. The presence of CTC in peripheral blood was significantly associated with methylated APC (p = 0.012) and methylated GSTP1 (p = 0.001).
The detection of methylated APC and GSTP1 DNA in serum correlated with the presence of CTC in the blood of breast cancer patients. Both methylated DNA and CTC correlated with a more aggressive tumor biology and advanced disease.
methylated genes; circulating tumor cells; circulating DNA; breast cancer
Hypermethylation of the glutathione S-transferase π 1 (GSTP1) gene promoter region has been reported to be a potential biomarker to distinguish hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from other liver diseases. However, reports regarding how specific a marker it is have ranged from 100% to 0%. We hypothesized that, to a large extent, the variation of specificity depends on the location of the CpG sites analyzed. To test this hypothesis, we compared the methylation status of the GSTP1 promoter region of the DNA isolated from HCC, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and normal liver tissues by bisulfite–PCR sequencing. We found that the 5′ region of the position −48 nt from the transcription start site of the GSTP1 gene is selectively methylated in HCC, whereas the 3′ region is methylated in all liver tissues examined, including normal liver and the HCC tissue. Interestingly, when DNA derived from fetal liver and 11 nonhepatic normal tissue was also examined by bisulfite-PCR sequencing, we found that methylation of the 3′ region of the promoter appeared to be liver-specific. A methylation-specific PCR assay targeting the 5′ region of the promoter was developed and used to quantify the methylated GSTP1 gene in various diseased liver tissues including HCC. When we used an assay targeting the 3′ region, we found that the methylation of the 5′-end of the GSTP1 promoter was significantly more specific than that of the 3′-end (97.1% vs. 60%, p<0.0001 by Fisher's exact test) for distinguishing HCC (n = 120) from hepatitis (n = 35) and cirrhosis (n = 35). Encouragingly, 33.8% of the AFP-negative HCC contained the methylated GSTP1 gene. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of the location of CpG site methylation for HCC specificity and how liver-specific DNA methylation should be considered when an epigenetic DNA marker is studied for detection of HCC.
Protein downregulation and hypermethylation of Ras association domain family 1A (RASSF1A) has been recognized as an important early event in different classes of carcinogenesis, but clinicopathological significance of RASSF1A protein expression and methylation in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains largely unknown. The aim of the study was to investigate the expression of RASSF1A protein and methylation in HCC and their clinical significance.
Immunohistochemistry was employed to detect the expression of RASSF1A proteins in liver tissue microarrays. Aberrant promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A was investigated in DNA from HCC, matching noncancerous tissues and serum of 35 HCC patients by methylation-specific PCR.
RASSF1A protein expression in HCC was significantly lower than that in noncancerous (p = 0.015) and paracancerous tissues (p = 0.017). In addition, reduced RASSF1A protein expression is related to TNM stage, metastasis, α-fetoprotein, portal vein embolus, capsular infiltration, and multiple tumor nodes. Furthermore, RASSF1A promoter methylation in HCC was significantly higher than that in noncancerous liver tissues (p < 0.05). Meanwhile, RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation was detected in 14 in the serum DNA from HCC patients, whereas no hypermethylation was detected in the normal controls. Hypermethylation of RASSF1A in HCC serum and tissues was negatively correlated with the expression of RASSF1A protein expression (p < 0.05).
The loss or abnormal protein downregulation and the promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A could play important roles in the tumorigenesis development and metastases of HCC. The detection of the promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A in serum DNA could be a valuable biomarker for early-stage diagnosis in populations at high risk of HCC.
RASSF1A; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immunohistochemistry; Promoter hypermethylation; Tissue microarrays (TMAs); DNA
We investigated the impact of promoter methylation on APC protein expression in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Materials and methods
50 patients [HCC (n=19), liver metastasis (n=19), cholangiocellular cancer (n=7), and benign liver tumors (n=5)] were studied for methylation using Methylight analysis. APC mutation was investigated by protein truncation test and direct sequencing of genomic DNA. The protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis.
The APC promoter was hypermethylated in 81.8% of non-cancerous liver tissue samples. All HCC samples and ten patients with liver metastasis (52.6%) exhibited APC promoter methylation. The degree of methylation was significantly higher in samples from HCC compared to the non-cancerous liver tissue samples (63.1% vs. 24.98%; p=0.001). The level of APC protein expression was significantly reduced in HCC samples compared to that of the corresponding non-tumor liver tissue (p<0.05).
Promoter methylation of the APC gene seems to be of significance in hepatocarcinogenesis and results in reduced protein expression in HCC. Interestingly, APC promoter methylation is also present in the vast majority of non-cancerous liver tissue whose (patho)physiological function remains unresolved.
Promoter methylation; APC; Methylight assay; Protein; Hepatocellular carcinoma
We previously identified a number of genes which were methylated significantly more frequently in the tumor compared to the non-cancerous lung tissues from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Detection of methylation profiles of genes in NSCLC could provide insight into differential pathways to malignancy and lead to strategies for better treatment of individuals with NSCLC.
We determined the DNA methylation status of 27 genes using quantitative MethyLight assays in lung tumor samples from 117 clinically well-characterized NSCLC patients.
Hypermethylation was detected in one of more of the genes in 106 (91%) of 117 cases and was detected at high levels (Percentage of Methylation Reference (PMR)≥4%) in 79% of NSCLC cases. Methylation of APC, CCND2, KCNH5 and, RUNX was significantly more frequent in adenocarcinomas compared to squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), while methylation of CDKN2A was more common in SCC. Hypermethylation of KCNH5, KCNH8, and RARB was more frequent in females compared to males. Hypermethylation of APC and CCND2 was inversely associated with proliferation score assessed by Ki-67 level.
Our findings of differential gene hypermethylation frequencies in tumor tissues from patients with adenocarcinoma or squamous cell cancers and in females compared to males suggests that further investigation is warranted in order to more fully understand the potential disparate pathways and/or risk factors for NSCLC associated with histologic type and gender.
hypermethylation; lung cancer; gender; histology
We wanted to identify the most promising methylation marker candidates for cervical cancer early detection.
A systematic literature review was performed in Medline and weighted average frequencies for methylated genes stratified by tissue source and methods used were computed.
51 studies were identified analyzing 68 different genes for methylation in 4376 specimens across all stages of cervical carcinogenesis. 15 genes, DAPK1, RASSF1, CDH1, CDKN2A, MGMT, RARB, APC, FHIT, MLH1, TIMP3, GSTP1, CADM1, CDH13, HIC1, and TERT have been analyzed in 5 or more studies. The published data on these genes is highly heterogeneous; 7 genes (CDH1, FHIT, TERT, CDH13, MGMT, TIMP3, and HIC1) had a reported range of methylation frequencies in cervical cancers of greater than 60% between studies. Stratification by analysis method did not resolve the heterogeneity. Three markers, DAPK1, CADM1, and RARB, showed elevated methylation in cervical cancers consistently across studies.
There is currently no methylation marker that can be readily translated for use in cervical cancer screening or triage settings. Large, well-conducted methylation profiling studies of cervical carcinogenesis could yield new candidates that are more specific for HPV-related carcinogenesis. New candidate markers need to be thoroughly validated in highly standardized assays.
cervical cancer; biomarker; methylation; HPV; CIN
Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) are a heterogeneous group of tumors that differ in risk factors and genetic alterations. In Italy, particularly Southern Italy, chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection represents the main cause of HCC. Using high-density oligoarrays, we identified consistent differences in gene-expression between HCC and normal liver tissue. Expression patterns in HCC were also readily distinguishable from those associated with liver metastases. To characterize molecular events relevant to hepatocarcinogenesis and identify biomarkers for early HCC detection, gene expression profiling of 71 liver biopsies from HCV-related primary HCC and corresponding HCV-positive non-HCC hepatic tissue, as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases paired with the apparently normal peri-tumoral liver tissue, were compared to 6 liver biopsies from healthy individuals. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with HCV-related primary HCC, corresponding HCV-positive non-HCC as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the genes differentially expressed as related to regulation of gene expression and post-translational modification in HCV-related primary HCC; cellular Growth and Proliferation, and Cell-To-Cell Signaling and Interaction in HCV-related non HCC samples; Cellular Growth and Proliferation and Cell Cycle in metastasis. Also characteristic gene signatures were identified of HCV-HCC progression for early HCC diagnosis.
A diagnostic molecular signature complementing conventional pathologic assessment was identified.
Global DNA hypomethylation is a characteristic feature of cancer cells that closely associates with chromosomal instability (CIN). However, the association between these characteristics during hepatocarcinogenesis remains unclear. Herein, we determined the relationship between hypomethylation and CIN in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by analyzing 179 HCCs, 178 matched non-tumor livers and 23 normal liver tissues. Hypomethylation at three different repetitive DNA (rDNA) sequences and hypermethylation of 12 CpG loci, including 11 tumor suppressor gene (TSG) promoters, were quantified using MethyLight or combined bisulfite restriction analysis. Fractional allelic loss (FAL) was used as a marker for CIN, calculated by analyzing 400 microsatellite markers. Gains and losses at each chromosome were also determined using semi-quantitative microsatellite analysis. The associations between rDNA hypomethylation and FAL, as well as between TSG hypermethylation and FAL were investigated. Significantly more hypomethylation was observed in HCC tissues than in normal liver samples. Progression of hypomethylation during carcinogenesis was more prominent in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-negative cases, which was in contrast to our previous reports of significantly increased TSG methylation levels in HCV-positive tumors. Absence of liver cirrhosis and higher FAL scores were identified as independent contributors to significant hypomethylation of rDNA in HCC. Among the chromosomal alterations frequently observed in HCC, loss of 8p, which was unique in the earliest stages of hepatocarcinogenesis, was significantly associated with hypomethylation of rDNA by multivariable analysis (p = 0.0153). rDNA hypomethylation was also associated with a high FAL score regardless of tumor differentiation (p = 0.0011, well-differentiated; p = 0.0089, moderately/poorly-differentiated HCCs). We conclude that DNA hypomethylation is an important cause of CIN in the earliest step of HCC, especially in a background of non-cirrhotic liver.
Transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes and other cancer-related genes induced by promoter CpG island hypermethylation is an important epigenetic mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis. Previous studies have established methylation profiles of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and demonstrated that methylation of several candidate genes in resected tissues may be associated with time to recurrence. The goals of our study were to test whether specific promoter methylation and mRNA levels of candidate genes, as well as global changes in DNA methylation, can be linked with time to recurrence and clinicopathological variables in a homogenous study group of HCC patients. Forty-three tumorous and 45 non-tumorous liver tissue samples from the surgical margin were obtained from HCV-positive, HBV-negative HCC patients who underwent tumor resection surgery and who were monitored for tumor recurrence thereafter (median follow-up time: 16 months (range, 0 – 79 months)). Methylation-specific PCR was used to assess the promoter methylation status of P16(INK4a), SOCS-1, RASSF1A, APC, GSTP1, RIZ1, and MGMT genes, while the level of LINE-1 methylation was used as marker of global DNA methylation levels. Methylation frequencies in P16(INK4a), RASSF1A, APC, GSTP1, and RIZ1 genes were significantly greater in tumorous versus non-tumorous tissues. Methylation of RIZ1 in non-tumorous tissues was significantly associated with time to recurrence. Additionally, genomic DNA was significantly more hypomethylated in tumorous tissues, and this change was associated with shorter recurrence, but not with clinicopathological features. In conclusion, this study supports the role of aberrant methylation in the pathobiology of HCV-positive HCCs. The finding that RIZ1 methylation and increased levels of LINE-1 hypomethylation in non-tumorous tissues are associated with time to recurrence underscores the importance of assessing the epigenetic state of the liver remnant.
hepatocellular carcinoma; epigenetics; time to recurrence
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is the metaplastic replacement of squamous with columnar epithelium in the esophagus, as a result of reflux. It is the major risk factor for the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Methylation of CpG dinucleotides of normally unmethylated genes is associated with silencing of their expression, and is common in EAC. This study was designed to determine at what stage, in the progression from BE to EAC, methylation of key genes occurs.
We examined nine genes (APC, CDKN2A, ID4, MGMT, RBP1, RUNX3, SFRP1, TIMP3, and TMEFF2), frequently methylated in multiple cancer types, in a panel of squamous (19 biopsies from patients without BE or EAC, 16 from patients with BE, 21 from patients with EAC), BE (40 metaplastic, seven high grade dysplastic) and 37 EAC tissues. The methylation frequency, the percentage of samples that had any extent of methylation, for each of the nine genes in the EAC (95%, 59%, 76%, 57%, 70%, 73%, 95%, 74% and 83% respectively) was significantly higher than in any of the squamous groups. The methylation frequency for each of the nine genes in the metaplastic BE (95%, 28%, 78%, 48%, 58%, 48%, 93%, 88% and 75% respectively) was significantly higher than in the squamous samples except for CDKN2A and RBP1. The methylation frequency did not differ between BE and EAC samples, except for CDKN2A and RUNX3 which were significantly higher in EAC. The methylation extent was an estimate of both the number of methylated alleles and the density of methylation on these alleles. This was significantly greater in EAC than in metaplastic BE for all genes except APC, MGMT and TIMP3. There was no significant difference in methylation extent for any gene between high grade dysplastic BE and EAC.
We found significant methylation in metaplastic BE, which for seven of the nine genes studied did not differ in frequency from that found in EAC. This is also the first report of gene silencing by methylation of ID4 in BE or EAC. This study suggests that metaplastic BE is a highly abnormal tissue, more similar to cancer tissue than to normal epithelium.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most frequent malignant neoplasms in the world. Genetic polymorphism has been reported to be a factor increasing the risk of HCC. Phase II enzymes such as glutathione s-transferases (GSTP1, GSTA1) play important roles in protecting cells against damage induced by carcinogens. The aim of this study was to estimate the relationship of the GSTP1 and GSTA1 gene polymorphisms to HCC risk and clinico-pathological status.
Polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) was used to measure GSTP1 (A→G) and GSTA1 (C→T) gene polymorphisms in 386 healthy controls and 177 patients with HCC.
Neither gene polymorphism was associated with the clinico-pathological status of HCC and serum expression of liver-related clinico-pathological markers. No association between the GSTA1 gene polymorphism and HCC susceptibility was found. However, in the younger group, aged ≤ 57 years, individuals with AG or GG alleles of GSTP1 had a 2.18-fold (95%CI = 1.09-4.36; p = 0.02) and 5.64-fold (95%CI = 1.02-31.18; p = 0.04) risk, respectively, of developing HCC compared to individuals with AA alleles, after adjusting for other confounders.
AG and GG alleles of GSTP1 gene polymorphisms may be considered as factors increasing the susceptibility to and risk of HCC in Taiwanese aged ≤ 57 years.
Multiple epigenetic and genetic changes have been reported in colorectal tumors, but few of these have clinical impact. This study aims to pinpoint epigenetic markers that can discriminate between non-malignant and malignant tissue from the large bowel, i.e. markers with diagnostic potential.
The methylation status of eleven genes (ADAMTS1, CDKN2A, CRABP1, HOXA9, MAL, MGMT, MLH1, NR3C1, PTEN, RUNX3, and SCGB3A1) was determined in 154 tissue samples including normal mucosa, adenomas, and carcinomas of the colorectum. The gene-specific and widespread methylation status among the carcinomas was related to patient gender and age, and microsatellite instability status. Possible CIMP tumors were identified by comparing the methylation profile with microsatellite instability (MSI), BRAF-, KRAS-, and TP53 mutation status.
The mean number of methylated genes per sample was 0.4 in normal colon mucosa from tumor-free individuals, 1.2 in mucosa from cancerous bowels, 2.2 in adenomas, and 3.9 in carcinomas. Widespread methylation was found in both adenomas and carcinomas. The promoters of ADAMTS1, MAL, and MGMT were frequently methylated in benign samples as well as in malignant tumors, independent of microsatellite instability. In contrast, normal mucosa samples taken from bowels without tumor were rarely methylated for the same genes. Hypermethylated CRABP1, MLH1, NR3C1, RUNX3, and SCGB3A1 were shown to be identifiers of carcinomas with microsatellite instability. In agreement with the CIMP concept, MSI and mutated BRAF were associated with samples harboring hypermethylation of several target genes.
Methylated ADAMTS1, MGMT, and MAL are suitable as markers for early tumor detection.
The role of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains controversial. To understand the transition from benign to malignant, we studied the gene expression patterns in liver tissues at different stages, including normal, cirrhosis, and different HCC stages. We studied 108 liver tissue samples obtained from 88 distinct patients (41 HCV-cirrhotic tissues, 17 HCV-cirrhotic tissues from patients with HCC, and 47 HCV-HCC tissues). Differentially expressed genes (DEG) were studied by use of high-density oligonucleotide arrays. Among probe sets identified as differentially expressed via the F test, all pairwise comparisons were performed. Cirrhotic tissues with and without concomitant HCC were further evaluated, and a classifier was used to predict whether the tissue type was associated with HCC. Differential expression profiles were analyzed using Interaction Networks and Functional Analysis. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with cirrhosis, cirrhosis with early HCC, and normal with HCC. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the DEG as related to cellular growth and proliferation, cell death and inflammatory disease in cirrhosis; cell death, cell cycle, DNA replication, and immune response in early HCCs; and cell death, cell growth and proliferation, cell cycle, and DNA repair in advanced HCCs. Characteristic gene signatures were identified at different stages of HCV-HCC progression. A set of genes were identified to predict whether the cirrhotic tissue was associated with HCC.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common human malignancies in the world, and its prognosis is generally poor. Epigenetic alteration such as DNA methylation has been shown to be important in the development of human cancers including HCC. Here, we analyzed the methylation status of ZAR1, which has been reported to be aberrantly methylated in a few human cancers.
We investigated the methylation status of ZAR1 in 88 HCV-positive HCC and matched nontumorous liver tissue samples and 4 normal liver tissue samples used as a control using MassARRAY EpiTYPER. Further statistical analysis was performed to determine the relationship between methylation level and patient clinicopathological features and prognosis.
CpG islands in ZAR1 exon 1 showed a higher methylation level in all 88 HCC than in nontumorous tissues. The hypermethylation group, whose cancer tissues showed a twofold or higher methylation level compared with nontumorous tissues, showed a significantly higher serum AFP (p = 0.018) and lower serum albumin (p = 0.001) and single rather than multiple tumors (p = 0.031) compared with the hypomethylation group. Multivariate regression analyses were performed to identify which of the following factors were the predictors of the hypermethylation group: serum albumin, AFP, and tumor multiplicity. This study showed that patients who had Zar1 hypermethylation in the HCC tissues had a significantly lower serum albumin level than those in the hypomethylation group (p = 0.007).
Although it is still unknown how ZAR1 hypermethylation affects HCC development, it could be a potential marker to detect HCV-related HCC.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Hepatitis C virus; Methylation
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) still represents an unmet medical need. Epigenetic inactivation of tumor suppressor genes like RASSF1A or APC by overexpression of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) has been shown to be common in HCC and to be linked to the overall prognosis of patients. Inhibitors of protein and histone deacetylases (DACi) have been demonstrated to possess strong anti-tumor effects in HCC models.
We therefore investigated whether DACi also has any influence on the expression and activity of DNMTs and methylated target genes in HepG2 and Hep3B cell culture systems and in a xenograft model by immunohistochemistry, westernblotting, RT-qPCR and methylation-specific PCR.
Our findings demonstrate a rapid inhibition of DNMT activity 6 h after treatment with 0.1 μM of the pan-DACi panobinostat. A downregulation of DNMT mRNAs and protein were also observed at later points in time. This loss of DNMT activity and expression was paralleled by a diminished methylation of the target genes RASSF1A and APC and a concomitant re-expression of APC mRNA and protein. Analysis of HepG2 xenograft specimens confirmed these results in vivo.
We suggest a dual mode of action of DACi on DNA methylation status: a rapid inhibition of enzyme activity due to interference with posttranslational acetylation and a delayed effect on transcriptional control of DNMT genes by HDAC or miRNA mechanisms.
DNA methyltransferase; Deacetylase inhibitor; Epigenetics; Transcriptional control; Hepatocellular carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most frequent solid tumors worldwide, with limited treatment options and a dismal prognosis. Thus, there is a strong need to expand the basic and translational research on this deadly disease in order to improve the prognosis of HCC patients. Although the etiologic factors responsible for HCC development have been identified, the molecular pathogenesis of liver cancer remains poorly understood. Recent evidence has shown the frequent downregulation of Ras association domain family (RASSF) proteins both in the early and late stages of hepatocarcinogenesis. Here, we summarize the data available on the pathogenetic role of inactivation of RASSF proteins in liver cancer, the molecular mechanisms responsible for suppression of RASSF proteins in HCC, and the possible clinical implications arising from these discoveries. Altogether, the data indicate that inactivation of the RASSF1A tumor suppressor is ubiquitous in human liver cancer, while downregulation of RASSF2 and RASSF5 proteins is limited to specific HCC subsets. Also, the present findings speak in favour of therapeutic strategies aimed at reexpressing RASSF1A, RASSF2, and RASSF5 genes and/or inactivating the RASSF cellular inhibitors for the treatment of human liver cancer.