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1.  DNA Methylation in Tumor and Matched Normal Tissues from Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients 
We used MethyLight assays to analyze DNA methylation status of 27 genes on 49 paired cancerous and noncancerous tissue samples from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who underwent surgical resection. Seven genes (RARB, BVES, CDKN2A, KCNH5, RASSF1, CDH13, and RUNX) were found to be methylated significantly more frequently in tumor tissues than in noncancerous tissues. Only methylation of CCND2 and APC was frequently detected in both cancerous and noncancerous tissues, supporting the hypothesis that the methylation of these two genes is a preneoplastic change and may be associated with tobacco smoking exposure. Methylation of any one of eight genes (RASSF1, DAPK1, BVES, CDH13, MGMT, KCNH5, RARB, or CDH1) was present in 80% of NSCLC tissues but only in 14% of noncancerous tissues. Detection of methylation of these genes in blood might have utility in monitoring and detecting tumor recurrence in early-stage NSCLC after curative surgical resection.
PMCID: PMC2798850  PMID: 18349282
2.  DNA hypermethylation of tumors from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients is associated with gender and histologic type 
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.
PMCID: PMC2888601  PMID: 19945765
hypermethylation; lung cancer; gender; histology
3.  Identification of a panel of sensitive and specific DNA methylation markers for lung adenocarcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2007;6:70.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both men and women in the United States. Three quarters of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with regionally or distantly disseminated disease; their 5-year survival is only 15%. DNA hypermethylation at promoter CpG islands shows great promise as a cancer-specific marker that would complement visual lung cancer screening tools such as spiral CT, improving early detection. In lung cancer patients, such hypermethylation is detectable in a variety of samples ranging from tumor material to blood and sputum. To date the penetrance of DNA methylation at any single locus has been too low to provide great clinical sensitivity. We used the real-time PCR-based method MethyLight to examine DNA methylation quantitatively at twenty-eight loci in 51 primary human lung adenocarcinomas, 38 adjacent non-tumor lung samples, and 11 lung samples from non-lung cancer patients.
We identified thirteen loci showing significant differential DNA methylation levels between tumor and non-tumor lung; eight of these show highly significant hypermethylation in adenocarcinoma: CDH13, CDKN2A EX2, CDX2, HOXA1, OPCML, RASSF1, SFPR1, and TWIST1 (p-value << 0.0001). Using the current tissue collection and 5-fold cross validation, the four most significant loci (CDKN2A EX2, CDX2, HOXA1 and OPCML) individually distinguish lung adenocarcinoma from non-cancer lung with a sensitivity of 67–86% and specificity of 74–82%. DNA methylation of these loci did not differ significantly based on gender, race, age or tumor stage, indicating their wide applicability as potential lung adenocarcinoma markers. We applied random forests to determine a good classifier based on a subset of our loci and determined that combined use of the same four top markers allows identification of lung cancer tissue from non-lung cancer tissue with 94% sensitivity and 90% specificity.
The identification of eight CpG island loci showing highly significant hypermethylation in lung adenocarcinoma provides strong candidates for evaluation in patient remote media such as plasma and sputum. The four most highly ranked loci, CDKN2A EX2, CDX2, HOXA1 and OPCML, which show significant DNA methylation even in stage IA tumor samples, merit further investigation as some of the most promising lung adenocarcinoma markers identified to date.
PMCID: PMC2206053  PMID: 17967182
4.  DNA Methylation Changes in Atypical Adenomatous Hyperplasia, Adenocarcinoma In Situ, and Lung Adenocarcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21443.
Aberrant DNA methylation is common in lung adenocarcinoma, but its timing in the phases of tumor development is largely unknown. Delineating when abnormal DNA methylation arises may provide insight into the natural history of lung adenocarcinoma and the role that DNA methylation alterations play in tumor formation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used MethyLight, a sensitive real-time PCR-based quantitative method, to analyze DNA methylation levels at 15 CpG islands that are frequently methylated in lung adenocarcinoma and that we had flagged as potential markers for non-invasive detection. We also used two repeat probes as indicators of global DNA hypomethylation. We examined DNA methylation in 249 tissue samples from 93 subjects, spanning the putative spectrum of peripheral lung adenocarcinoma development: histologically normal adjacent non-tumor lung, atypical adenomatous hyperplasia (AAH), adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS, formerly known as bronchioloalveolar carcinoma), and invasive lung adenocarcinoma. Comparison of DNA methylation levels between the lesion types suggests that DNA hypermethylation of distinct loci occurs at different time points during the development of lung adenocarcinoma. DNA methylation at CDKN2A ex2 and PTPRN2 is already significantly elevated in AAH, while CpG islands at 2C35, EYA4, HOXA1, HOXA11, NEUROD1, NEUROD2 and TMEFF2 are significantly hypermethylated in AIS. In contrast, hypermethylation at CDH13, CDX2, OPCML, RASSF1, SFRP1 and TWIST1 and global DNA hypomethylation appear to be present predominantly in invasive cancer.
The gradual increase in DNA methylation seen for numerous loci in progressively more transformed lesions supports the model in which AAH and AIS are sequential stages in the development of lung adenocarcinoma. The demarcation of DNA methylation changes characteristic for AAH, AIS and adenocarcinoma begins to lay out a possible roadmap for aberrant DNA methylation events in tumor development. In addition, it identifies which DNA methylation changes might be used as molecular markers for the detection of preinvasive lesions.
PMCID: PMC3121768  PMID: 21731750
5.  Delineating an Epigenetic Continuum for Initiation, Transformation and Progression to Breast Cancer 
Cancers  2011;3(2):1580-1592.
Aberrant methylation of promoter CpG islands is a hallmark of human cancers and is an early event in carcinogenesis. We examined whether promoter hypermethylation contributes to the pathogenesis of benign breast lesions along a progression continuum to invasive breast cancer. The exploratory study cohort comprised 17 breast cancer patients with multiple benign and/or in situ lesions concurrently present with invasive carcinoma within a tumor biopsy. DNA from tumor tissue, normal breast epithelium when present, benign lesions (fibroadenoma, hyperplasia, papilloma, sclerosing adenosis, apocrine metaplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia or atypical ductal hyperplasia), and in situ lesions of lobular carcinoma and ductal carcinoma were interrogated for promoter methylation status in 22 tumor suppressor genes using the multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification assay (MS-MLPA). Methylation specific PCR was performed to confirm hypermethylation detected by MS-MLPA. Promoter methylation was detected in 11/22 tumor suppressor genes in 16/17 cases. Hypermethylation of RASSF1 was most frequent, present in 14/17 cases, followed by APC in 12/17, and GSTP1 in 9/17 cases with establishment of an epigenetic monocloncal progression continuum to invasive breast cancer. Hypermethylated promoter regions in normal breast epithelium, benign, and premalignant lesions within the same tumor biopsy implicate RASSF1, APC, GSTP1, TIMP3, CDKN2B, CDKN2A, ESR1, CDH13, RARB, CASP8, and TP73 as early events. DNA hypermethylation underlies thepathogenesis of step-wise transformation along a monoclonal continuum from normal to preneoplasia to invasive breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3138135  PMID: 21776373
benign; premalignant; transformation; DNA methylation; progression; continuum
6.  Delineating an Epigenetic Continuum for Initiation, Transformation and Progression to Breast Cancer 
Cancers  2011;3(2):1580-1592.
Aberrant methylation of promoter CpG islands is a hallmark of human cancers and is an early event in carcinogenesis. We examined whether promoter hypermethylation contributes to the pathogenesis of benign breast lesions along a progression continuum to invasive breast cancer. The exploratory study cohort comprised 17 breast cancer patients with multiple benign and/or in situ lesions concurrently present with invasive carcinoma within a tumor biopsy. DNA from tumor tissue, normal breast epithelium when present, benign lesions (fibroadenoma, hyperplasia, papilloma, sclerosing adenosis, apocrine metaplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia or atypical ductal hyperplasia), and in situ lesions of lobular carcinoma and ductal carcinoma were interrogated for promoter methylation status in 22 tumor suppressor genes using the multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification assay (MS-MLPA). Methylation specific PCR was performed to confirm hypermethylation detected by MS-MLPA. Promoter methylation was detected in 11/22 tumor suppressor genes in 16/17 cases. Hypermethylation of RASSF1 was most frequent, present in 14/17 cases, followed by APC in 12/17, and GSTP1 in 9/17 cases with establishment of an epigenetic monocloncal progression continuum to invasive breast cancer. Hypermethylated promoter regions in normal breast epithelium, benign, and premalignant lesions within the same tumor biopsy implicate RASSF1, APC, GSTP1, TIMP3, CDKN2B, CDKN2A, ESR1, CDH13, RARB, CASP8, and TP73 as early events. DNA hypermethylation underlies the pathogenesis of step-wise transformation along a monoclonal continuum from normal to preneoplasia to invasive breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3138135  PMID: 21776373
benign; premalignant; transformation; DNA methylation; progression; continuum
7.  Aberrant Promoter Hypermethylation and Genomic Hypomethylation in Tumor, Adjacent Normal Tissues and Blood from Breast Cancer Patients 
Anticancer research  2010;30(7):2489-2496.
Promoter hypermethylation and global hypomethylation in the human genome are hallmarks of most cancers. Detection of aberrant methylation in white blood cells (WBC) has been suggested as a marker for cancer development, but has not been extensively investigated. This study was carried out to determine whether aberrant methylation in WBC DNA can be used as a surrogate biomarker for breast cancer risk.
Patients and Methods
Promoter hypermethylation of 8 tumor suppressor genes (RASSF1A, APC, HIN1, BRCA1, cyclinD1, RARβ, CDH1 and TWIST1) and DNA methylation for three repetitive elements (LINE1, Sat2M1 and AluM2) were analyzed in invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, paired adjacent normal tissue and WBC from 40 breast cancer patients by the MethyLight assay. Methylation in WBC from 40 controls was also analyzed.
Tumor and adjacent tissues showed frequent hypermethylation for all genes tested, while WBC DNA was rarely hypermethylated. For HIN1, RASSF1A, APC and TWIST1 there was agreement between hypermethylation in tumor and adjacent tissues (P=0.04, P=0.02, P=0.005 and P<0.0001, respectively). DNA methylation for the three repetitive elements was lower in tumor compared to adjacent tissue and WBC DNA. Significant correlations in the methylation of Sat2M1 between tumor and adjacent tissues and WBC DNA were found (P<0.0001 and P=0.046, respectively). There was also a significant difference in methylation of Sat2M1 between cases and controls (P=0.01).
These results suggest that further studies of WBC methylation, including prospective studies, may provide biomarkers of breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3568974  PMID: 20682973
Breast cancer; promoter hypermethylation; genomic methylation; tumor suppressor genes; repetitive elements; WBC DNA
8.  Quantitative analysis of DNA methylation profiles in lung cancer identifies aberrant DNA methylation of specific genes and its association with gender and cancer risk factors 
Cancer research  2009;69(1):243-252.
The global rise in lung cancer burden, together with its poor survival and resistance to classical chemotherapy underscores the need for identification of critical molecular events involved in lung carcinogenesis. Here, we have applied quantitative profiling of DNA methylation states in a panel of five cancer-associated genes (CDH1, CDKN2A, GSTP1, MTHFR and RASSF1A) to a large case-control study of lung cancer. Our analyses revealed a high frequency of aberrant hypermethylation of MTHFR, RASSF1A and CDKN2A in lung tumours as compared to control blood samples, whereas no significant increase in methylation levels of GSTP1 and CDH1 was observed, consistent with the notion that aberrant DNA methylation occurs in a tumour-specific and gene-specific manner. Importantly, we found that tobacco smoking, sex, and alcohol intake had a strong influence on the methylation levels of distinct genes (RASSF1A and MTHFR), whereas folate intake, age and histological subtype had no significant influence on methylation states. We observed a strong association between MTHFR hypermethylation in lung cancer and tobacco smoking, whereas methylation levels of CDH1, CDKN2A, GSTP1 and RASSF1A were not associated with smoking, indicating that tobacco smoke targets specific genes for hypermethylation. We also found that methylation levels in RASSF1A, but not the other genes under study, were influenced by sex, with males showing higher levels of methylation. Together, this study identifies aberrant DNA methylation patterns in lung cancer and thus exemplifies the mechanism by which environmental factors may interact with key genes involved in tumour suppression and contribute to lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2613548  PMID: 19118009
DNA methylation; lung cancer; risk factors; tobacco; MTHFR
9.  Prognostic significance of CDH13 hypermethylation and mRNA in NSCLC 
OncoTargets and therapy  2014;7:1987-1996.
Aberrant methylation of CpG dinucleotides is a commonly observed epigenetic modification in human cancer. Thus, detection of aberrant gene promoter methylation as a tool for diagnosis of tumors or as a prognostic marker has been widely described for many types of cancers, including nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Emerging evidence indicates that CDH13 is a candidate tumor suppressor in several types of human tumors, including NSCLC. However, the correlation between CDH13 hypermethylation and clinicopathological characteristics of NSCLC remains unclear. In the current study, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantitatively evaluate the effects of CDH13 hypermethylation on the incidence of NSCLC and clinicopathological characteristics. Final analysis of 803 NSCLC patients from eleven eligible studies was performed. CDH13 hypermethylation was observed to be significantly higher in NSCLC than in normal lung tissue, with the pooled odds ratio (OR) from seven studies including 448 NSCLC and 345 normal lung tissue (OR, 7.85; 95% confidence interval, 5.12–12.03; P<0.00001). CDH13 hypermethylation was also associated with pathological types. The pooled OR was obtained from four studies, including 111 squamous cell carcinoma and 106 adenocarcinoma (OR, 0.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.19–0.66; P=0.001), which indicated that CDH13 hypermethylation plays a more important role in the pathogenesis of adenocarcinoma. NSCLC with CDH13 hypermethylation was found more frequently in poorly differentiated NSCLC patients. NSCLC patients with CDH13 hypermethylation had a lower survival rate than those without CDH13 hypermethylation. In addition, CDH13 mRNA high expression was found to correlate with better overall survival for all NSCLC patients followed for 20 years (hazard ratio, 0.81; P=0.0056). Interestingly, CDH13 mRNA overexpression was found to correlate with better overall survival only in adenocarcinoma patients (hazard ratio, 0.42; P=9.6e–09), not in squamous cell carcinoma patients (hazard ratio, 0.93; P=0.59). The results of this meta-analysis suggest that CDH13 hypermethylation is associated with an increased risk and worse survival in NSCLC. CDH13 hypermethylation and mRNA expression play an important role in carcinogenesis, progression, and development, as well as clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4222896  PMID: 25382980
prognosis; methylation; lung cancer; tumor suppressor gene; meta-analysis; odds ratio; hazard ratio
10.  Methylated APC and GSTP1 genes in serum DNA correlate with the presence of circulating blood tumor cells and are associated with a more aggressive and advanced breast cancer disease 
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.
PMCID: PMC3351951  PMID: 20696638
methylated genes; circulating tumor cells; circulating DNA; breast cancer
11.  Comparison of Methylation Profiling in Cancerous and Their Corresponding Normal Tissues from Korean Patients with Breast Cancer 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2013;33(6):431-440.
Aberrant DNA hypermethylation plays a pivotal role in carcinogenesis and disease progression; therefore, accurate measurement of differential gene methylation patterns among many genes is likely to reveal biomarkers for improved risk assessment. We evaluated the gene hypermethylation profiles of primary breast tumors and their corresponding normal tissues and investigated the association between major clinicopathological features and gene hypermethylation.
A single reaction using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to analyze the DNA methylation status of 24 tumor suppressor genes in 60 cancerous tissues and their corresponding normal tissues from patients with primary breast cancer.
In cancerous breast tissues, 21 of 24 genes displayed promoter methylation in one or more samples. The most frequently methylated genes included RASSF1 (43.3%), APC (31.7%), CDKN2B (25.0%), CDH13 (23.3%), GSTP1 (16.7%), and BRCA1 (10%). APC was associated with lymph node metastasis, and BRCA1 was associated with negative estrogen receptor and negative progesterone receptor expression. In normal breast tissues, 8 of 24 tumor suppressor genes displayed promoter hypermethylation; CDKN2B (28.3%) and RASSF1 (8.3%) hypermethylation were most frequently observed.
RASSF1 and CDKN2B hypermethylation in Korean breast cancer patients were the most frequent in cancerous tissue and corresponding normal tissue, respectively. Our data indicates that methylation of specific genes is a frequent event in morphologically normal breast tissues adjacent to breast tumors as well as the corresponding breast cancers. This study also suggests that gene methylation is linked to various pathological features of breast cancer; however, this requires confirmation in a larger study.
PMCID: PMC3819443  PMID: 24205493
Breast cancer; Epigenetics; Carcinogenesis; Methylation
12.  Absolute Quantitation of DNA Methylation of 28 Candidate Genes in Prostate Cancer Using Pyrosequencing 
Disease markers  2011;30(4):151-161.
Aberrant DNA methylation plays a pivotal role in carcinogenesis and its mapping is likely to provide biomarkers for improved diagnostic and risk assessment in prostate cancer (PCa). We quantified and compared absolute methylation levels among 28 candidate genes in 48 PCa and 29 benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) samples using the pyrosequencing (PSQ) method to identify genes with diagnostic and prognostic potential.
RARB, HIN1, BCL2, GSTP1, CCND2, EGFR5, APC, RASSF1A, MDR1, NKX2-5, CDH13, DPYS, PTGS2, EDNRB, MAL, PDLIM4, HLAa, ESR1 and TIG1 were highly methylated in PCa compared to BPH (p < 0.001), while SERPINB5, CDH1, TWIST1, DAPK1, THRB, MCAM, SLIT2, CDKN2a and SFN were not. RARB methylation above 21% completely distinguished PCa from BPH. Separation based on methylation level of SFN, SLIT2 and SERPINB5 distinguished low and high Gleason score cancers, e.g. SFN and SERPINB5 together correctly classified 81% and 77% of high and low Gleason score cancers respectively. Several genes including CDH1 previously reported as methylation markers in PCa were not confirmed in our study. Increasing age was positively associated with gene methylation (p < 0.0001).
Accurate quantitative measurement of gene methylation in PCa appears promising and further validation of genes like RARB, HIN1, BCL2, APC and GSTP1 is warranted for diagnostic potential and SFN, SLIT2 and SERPINB5 for prognostic potential.
PMCID: PMC3825083  PMID: 21694441
Prostate cancer; BPH; DNA Methylation; pyrosequencing; biomarker
13.  Quantitative analysis of associations between DNA hypermethylation, hypomethylation, and DNMT RNA levels in ovarian tumors 
Oncogene  2006;25(18):2636-2645.
How hypermethylation and hypomethylation of different parts of the genome in cancer are related to each other and to DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) gene expression is ill defined. We used ovarian epithelial tumors of different malignant potential to look for associations between 5’ gene region or promoter hypermethylation, satellite or global DNA hypomethylation, and RNA levels for ten DNMT isoforms. In the quantitative MethyLight assay, 6 of the 55 examined gene loci (LTB4R, MTHFR, CDH13, PGR, CDH1, and IGSF4) were significantly hypermethylated relative to the degree of malignancy (after adjustment for multiple comparisons; P<0.001). Importantly, hypermethylation of these genes was associated with degree of malignancy independently of the association of satellite or global DNA hypomethylation with degree of malignancy. Cancer-related increases in methylation of only two studied genes, LTB4R and MTHFR, which were appreciably methylated even in control tissues, were associated with DNMT1 RNA levels. Cancer-linked satellite DNA hypomethylation was independent of RNA levels for all DNMT3B isoforms, despite the ICF syndrome-linked DNMT3B deficiency causing juxtacentromeric satellite DNA hypomethylation. Our results suggest that there is not a simple association of gene hypermethylation in cancer with altered DNMT RNA levels, and that this hypermethylation is neither the result nor cause of satellite and global DNA hypomethylation.
PMCID: PMC1449872  PMID: 16532039
DNA hypomethylation; DNA hypermethylation; DNA methyltransferases; ovarian tumors
14.  Methylation profiles of thirty four promoter-CpG islands and concordant methylation behaviours of sixteen genes that may contribute to carcinogenesis of astrocytoma 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:65.
Astrocytoma is a common aggressive intracranial tumor and presents a formidable challenge in the clinic. Association of altered DNA methylation patterns of the promoter CpG islands with the expression profile of cancer-related genes, has been found in many human tumors. Therefore, DNA methylation status as such may serve as an epigenetic biomarker for both diagnosis and prognosis of human tumors, including astrocytoma.
We used the methylation specific PCR in conjunction with sequencing verification to establish the methylation profile of the promoter CpG island of thirty four genes in astrocytoma tissues from fifty three patients (The WHO grading:. I: 14, II: 15, III: 12 and IV: 12 cases, respectively). In addition, compatible tissues (normal tissues distant from lesion) from three non-astrocytoma patients were included as the control.
Seventeen genes (ABL, APC, APAF1, BRCA1, CSPG2, DAPK1, hMLH1, LKB1, PTEN, p14ARF, p15INK4b, p27KIP1, p57KIP2, RASSF1C, RB1, SURVIVIN, and VHL) displayed a uniformly unmethylated pattern in all the astrocytoma and non-astrocytoma tissues examined. However, the MAGEA1 gene that was inactivated and hypermethylated in non-astrocytoma tissues, was partially demethylated in 24.5% of the astrocytoma tissues (co-existence of the hypermethylated and demethylated alleles). Of the astrocytoma associated hypermethylated genes, the methylation pattern of the CDH13, cyclin a1, DBCCR1, EPO, MYOD1, and p16INK4a genes changed in no more than 5.66% (3/53) of astrocytoma tissues compared to non-astrocytoma controls, while the RASSF1A, p73, AR, MGMT, CDH1, OCT6,, MT1A, WT1, and IRF7 genes were more frequently hypermethylated in 69.8%, 47.2%, 41.5%, 35.8%, 32%, 30.2%, 30.2%, 30.2% and 26.4% of astrocytoma tissues, respectively. Demethylation mediated inducible expression of the CDH13, MAGEA1, MGMT, p73 and RASSF1A genes was established in an astrocytoma cell line (U251), demonstrating that expression of these genes is likely regulated by DNA methylation. AR gene hypermethylation was found exclusively in female patients (22/27, 81%, 0/26, 0%, P < 0.001), while the IRF7 gene hypermethylation preferentially occurred in the male counterparts (11/26, 42.3% to 3/27, 11%, P < 0.05). Applying the mathematic method "the Discovery of Association Rules", we have identified groups consisting of up to three genes that more likely display the altered methylation patterns in concert in astrocytoma.
Of the thirty four genes examined, sixteen genes exhibited astrocytoma associated changes in the methylation profile. In addition to the possible pathological significance, the established concordant methylation profiles of the subsets consisting of two to three target genes may provide useful clues to the development of the useful prognostic as well as diagnostic assays for astrocytoma.
PMCID: PMC520749  PMID: 15367334
15.  DNA methylation changes in normal liver tissues and hepatocellular carcinoma with different viral infection 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is known to be associated with both HBV and HCV and HVC. While epigenetic changes have been previously reported to be associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), whether the epigenetic profile of HBC associated HCC differs from that of HCV associated HCC is unclear. We analyzed DNA methylation of ten genes (APC, CCND2, CDKN2A, GSTP1, HOXA9, RARB, RASSF1, RUNX, SFRP1, and TWIST1) using MethyLight assays on 65 archived liver tissue blocks. Three genes (APC, CCND2, and GSTP1) were frequently methylated in normal liver tissues. Five genes (APC, CDKN2A, HOXA9, RASSF1, and RUNX) were significantly more frequently methylated in malignant liver tissues than normal liver tissues. Among HCC cases, HOXA9, RASSF1 and SFRP1 were methylated more frequently in HBV positive HCC cases, while CDKN2A were significantly more frequently methylated in HCV positive HCC cases. Our data support the hypothesis that HCC resulting from different viral etiologies are associated with different epigenetic changes.
PMCID: PMC2848881  PMID: 20079733
hypermethylation; HBV; HCV; hepatocellular carcinoma
16.  Hypermethylation of multiple tumor-related genes associated with DMNT3b upregulation served as a biomarker for early diagnosis of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Epigenetics  2011;6(3):307-316.
This study was designed to determine the significance of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) in DNA hypermethylation in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and to identify DNA methylation markers in serum for the early diagnosis of ESCC. A promoter methylation profile of 12 tumor-related genes was assessed using methylation-specific PCR in ESCC and paired non-tumor tissue samples from 47 patients. Expression levels of DNMTs were examined by real-time reverse transcription-PCR and immunohistochemistry. Using MethyLight, the methylation status of five genes was analyzed in serum samples from 45 patients and 15 healthy individuals. A total of 46 (97.9%) of 47 ESCC samples showed methylation in at least one of the examined genes, and methylation was most frequent for RAR-β (46.8%), DAPK (46.8%), p16 (44.7%) and CDH1 (42.6%). Methylation of RASSF1A was significantly correlated with the poorly differentiated tumors and the early pathologic tumor classification (p = 0.035 and p = 0.046, respectively). Tumoral DNMT3b mRNA upregulation was significantly correlated with hypermethylation of multiple tumor-related genes (p = 0.021). In addition, hypermethylation of cell-free serum DNA was common in ESCC patients and diagnostic accuracy was increased when methylation of multiple genes (RAR-β, DAPK, CDH1, p16 and RASSF1A) were analyzed in combination (ROC AUC 0.911, 82.2% sensitivity and 100% specificity). The present study suggests that hypermethylation of multiple tumor-related genes may be involved in the pathogenesis of ESCC and mediated by the increase of DNMT3b expression. A cluster of multiple methylated genes in serum DNA has the potential as a novel biomarker for ESCC diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3092679  PMID: 21150312
hypermethylation; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; DNA methyltransferase 3b; serum; biomarker; diagnosis
17.  Comparative Epigenomics of Human and Mouse Mammary Tumors 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2009;48(1):83-97.
Gene silencing by aberrant epigenetic chromatin alteration is a well-recognized event contributing to tumorigenesis. While genetically engineered tumor-prone mouse models have proven a powerful tool in understanding many aspects of carcinogenesis, to date few studies have focused on epigenetic alterations in mouse tumors. To uncover epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) in mouse mammary tumor cells, we conducted initial genome-wide screening by combining the treatment of cultured cells with the DNA demethylating drug 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-azadC) and the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) with expression microarray. By conducting this initial screen on EMT6 cells and applying protein function and genomic structure criteria to genes identified as upregulated in response to 5-azadC/TSA, we were able to identify 2 characterized breast cancer TSGs (Timp3 and Rprm) and 4 putative TSGs (Atp1B2, Dusp2, FoxJ1 and Smpd3) silenced in this line. By testing a panel of ten mouse mammary tumor lines, we determined that each of these genes is commonly hypermethylated, albeit with varying frequency. Furthermore, by examining a panel of human breast tumor lines and primary tumors we observed that the human orthologs of ATP1B2, FOXJ1 and SMPD3 are aberrantly hypermethylated in the human disease while DUSP2 was not hypermethylated in primary breast tumors. Finally, we examined hypermethylation of several genes targeted for epigenetic silencing in human breast tumors in our panel of ten mouse mammary tumor lines. We observed that the orthologs of Cdh1, RarB, Gstp1, RassF1 genes were hypermethylated, while neither Dapk1 nor Wif1 were aberrantly methylated in this panel of mouse tumor lines. From this study, we conclude that there is significant, but not absolute, overlap in the epigenome of human and mouse mammary tumors.
PMCID: PMC2929596  PMID: 18836996
18.  Methylation of the RARB Gene Increases Prostate Cancer Risk in Black Americans 
The Journal of urology  2013;190(1):317-324.
Gene promoter hypermethylation may be useful as a biomarker for cancer risk in histopathologically benign prostate specimens.
Materials and Methods
We performed a nested case-control study of gene promoter methylation status for 5 genes (APC, RARB, CCND2, RASSF1 and MGMT) measured in benign biopsy specimens from 511 prostate cancer case-control pairs. We estimated the overall and race stratified risk of subsequent prostate cancer associated with methylation status.
On race stratified analysis RARB methylation was associated with a higher cancer risk in black American men (OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.39–3.44). APC methylation was associated with an increased risk of high grade tumors (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.20–4.90), which was higher in black than in white men (OR 3.21 vs 2.04). In cases RARB and APC gene methylation in benign prostate samples persisted in matched malignant specimens. In black cases the combined risk associated with RARB and APC methylation (OR 3.04, 95% CI 1.44–6.42) was greater than the individual risk of each gene and significantly different from that in white cases (OR 1.14, 95% CI 0.56–2.30).
RARB gene methylation in histopathologically benign prostate samples was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of subsequent prostate cancer in black men. Methylation data on additional genes may improve risk stratification and clinical decision making algorithms for cancer screening and diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3779133  PMID: 23376149
prostate; prostatic neoplasms; risk; DNA methylation; African Americans
19.  Estrogen receptor and HER2/neu status affect epigenetic differences of tumor-related genes in primary breast tumors 
Estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers are considered prognostically more favorable than ER-negative tumors, whereas human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)2/neu-positive breast cancers are associated with worse prognosis. The objective of the present study was to determine whether ER-positive and ER-negative status relates to epigenetic changes in breast cancer-related genes. To evaluate epigenetic differences in tumor-related genes relating to ER and HER2/neu status of primary tumors, we examined the promoter methylation status of the promoter region CpG islands of eight major breast tumor-related genes (RASSF1A, CCND2, GSPT1, TWIST, APC, NES1, RARβ2, and CDH1).
Paired ER-positive (n = 65) and ER-negative (n = 65) primary breast tumors (n = 130) matched for prognostic factors were assessed. DNA was extracted from paraffin-embedded tumor tissue after microdissection, and methylation-specific PCR and capillary-array electrophoresis analysis were performed.
In early stages of tumor progression (T1 and N0), RASSF1A and CCND2 were significantly (P < 0.05) more methylated in ER-positive than in ER-negative tumors. GSTP1 hypermethylation was more frequent in the lymph node metastasis positive group than in the negative group. Double negative (ER-negative, HER2/neu-negative) breast cancers had significantly lesser frequencies of RASSF1A, GSTP1, and APC methylation (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001, and P = 0.0035, respectively). Both ER and HER2/neu status correlated independently with these epigenetic alterations.
We demonstrated significant differences in tumor-related gene methylation patterns relevant to ER and HER2/neu status of breast tumors. This may be of significance in the assessment of targeted therapy resistance related to ER and HER2/neu status in breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC2481494  PMID: 18485221
20.  Methylation of the DLEC1 gene correlates with poor prognosis in Japanese lung cancer patients 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(2):283-287.
The incidence of chromosome 3p gene alterations is one of the most frequent and earliest documented events in lung cancer. This study aimed to investigate promoter methylation in the deleted in lung and esophageal cancer 1 (DLEC1) gene, as well as the p16 and CDH1 genes in Japanese lung cancer cases. The methylation status of the promoter regions of DLEC1, p16 and CDH1 was investigated using methylation-specific PCR. The findings were compared to the clinicopathological features of lung cancer. Methylation-specific PCR showed that the DLEC1 promoter region was methylated in 65 out of 116 (56%) lung cancers. Patients with DLEC1-methylated cancer were associated with a significantly worse prognosis than those with unmethylated cancer (p=0.0368; hazard ratio=1.83). The p16 methylation status correlated with squamous histology (p=0.03) and smoking status (never smoker vs. smoker; p=0.0122). Patients with p16 ummethylated cancer harbored more EGFR mutations (p=0.0071). The CDH1 promoter region was hypermethylated in 65 out of 118 (55.1%) lung cancer cases. However, the CDH1 methylation status was not associated with the clinicopathological characteristics of the lung cancer types. p16 and CDH1 methylation status did not correlate with survival in the lung cancer patients. Thus, in our Japanese cohort, the methylation status of the DLEC1 gene was a marker of poor prognosis independent of stage.
PMCID: PMC3436471  PMID: 22966295
methylation; DLEC1 gene; lung cancer
21.  Credentialing of DNA methylation assays for human genes as diagnostic biomarkers of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia in high-risk HPV positive women 
Gynecologic Oncology  2014;132(3):709-714.
Testing for high risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) is increasing; however due to limitations in specificity there remains a need for better triage tests. Research efforts have focused recently on methylation of human genes which show promise as diagnostic classifiers.
Methylation of 26 genes: APC, CADM1, CCND2, CDH13, CDKN2A, CTNNB1, DAPK1, DPYS, EDNRB, EPB41L3, ESR1, GSTP1, HIN1, JAM3, LMX1, MAL, MDR1, PAX1, PTGS2, RARB, RASSF1, SLIT2, SOX1, SPARC, TERT and TWIST1 was measured by pyrosequencing in cytology specimens from a pilot set of women with normal or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 (CIN3) histology. Six genes were selected for testing in Predictors 1, a colposcopy referral study comprising 799 women. The three genes EPB41L3, DPYS and MAL were further tested in a second colposcopy referral study, Predictors 2, comprising 884 women.
The six genes selected from the pilot: EPB41L3, EDNRB, LMX1, DPYS, MAL and CADM1 showed significantly elevated methylation in CIN2 and CIN3 (CIN2/3) versus ≤CIN1 in Predictors 1 (p < 0.01). Highest methylation was observed in cancer tissues. EPB41L3 methylation was the best single classifier of CIN2/3 in both HR-HPV positive (p < 0.0001) and negative samples (p = 0.02). Logistic regression modeling showed that other genes did not add significantly to EPB41L3 and in Predictors 2, its classifier value was validated with AUC 0.69 (95% CI 0.65–0.73).
Several methylated genes show promise for detecting CIN2/3 of which EPB41L3 seems the best. Methylated human gene biomarkers used in combination may be clinically useful for triage of women with HR-HPV infections.
•Methylation of 26 human genes assessed by pyrosequencing in 40 cytology specimens•Several methylated genes show promise for detecting CIN2/3.•EBP41L3 shows reproducible biomarker potential in high risk HPV positive women.
PMCID: PMC3989115  PMID: 24508839
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; Human gene methylation; EPB41L3; Diagnostic biomarker
22.  Methylation of the Candidate Biomarker TCF21 Is Very Frequent Across A Spectrum of Early Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers 
Cancer  2010;117(3):606-617.
The transcription factor TCF21 is involved in mesenchymal-to-epithelial differentiation and was shown to be aberrantly hypermethylated in lung and head and neck cancers. Because of its reported high frequency of hypermethylation in lung cancer, we sought to characterize the stages and types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that are hypermethylated and to define the frequency of hypermethylation and associated “second hits”.
We determined TCF21 promoter hypermethylation in 105 NSCLC including various stages and histologies in smokers and nonsmokers. Additionally, we examined TCF21 loss-of-heterozygosity and mutational status. We also assayed 22 cancer cell lines from varied tissue origins. We validated and expanded our NSCLC results by examining TCF21 immunohistochemical expression on a tissue microarray containing 300 NSCLC cases.
Overall, 81% of NSCLC samples showed TCF21 promoter hypermethylation and 84% showed decreased TCF21 protein expression. Multivariate analysis showed that TCF21 expression, although below normal in both histologies, was lower in adenocarcinoma than squamous cell carcinoma, and was not independently correlated with gender, smoking and EGFR mutation status, or clinical outcome. Cell lines from other cancer types also showed frequent TCF21 promoter hypermethylation.
Hypermethylation and decreased expression of TCF21 were tumor-specific and very frequent in all NSCLC, even early-stage disease, thus making TCF21 a potential candidate methylation biomarker for early-stage NSCLC screening. TCF21 hypermethylation in a variety of tumor cell lines suggests it may also be a valuable methylation biomarker in other tumor types.
PMCID: PMC3023841  PMID: 20945327
TCF21; methylation; biomarker; lung cancer; screening
23.  Combined effects of cigarette smoking, gene polymorphisms and methylations of tumor suppressor genes on non small cell lung cancer: a hospital-based case-control study in China 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:422.
Cigarette smoking is the most established risk factor, and genetic variants and/or gene promoter methylations are also considered to play an essential role in development of lung cancer, but the pathogenesis of lung cancer is still unclear.
We collected the data of 150 cases and 150 age-matched and sex-matched controls on a Hospital-Based Case-Control Study in China. Face to face interviews were conducted using a standardized questionnaire. Gene polymorphism and methylation status were measured by RFLP-PCR and MSP, respectively. Logistic regressive model was used to estimate the odds ratios (OR) for different levels of exposure.
After adjusted age and other potential confounding factors, smoking was still main risk factor and significantly increased 3.70-fold greater risk of NSCLC as compared with nonsmokers, and the ORs across increasing levels of pack years were 1, 3.54, 3.65 and 7.76, which the general dose-response trend was confirmed. Our striking findings were that the risk increased 5.16, 8.28 and 4.10-fold, respectively, for NSCLC with promoter hypermethylation of the p16, DAPK or RARβ gene in smokers with CYP1A1 variants, and the higher risk significantly increased in smokers with null GSTM1 and the OR was 17.84 for NSCLC with p16 promoter hypermethylation, 17.41 for DAPK, and 8.18 for RARβ in smokers with null GSTM1 compared with controls (all p < 0.01).
Our study suggests the strong combined effects of cigarette smoke, CYP1A1 and GSTM1 Polymorphisms, hypermethylations of p16, DAPK and RARβ promoters in NSCLC, implying complex pathogenesis of NSCLC should be given top priority in future research.
PMCID: PMC3087325  PMID: 20704749
24.  Molecular Analysis of a Multistep Lung Cancer Model Induced by Chronic Inflammation Reveals Epigenetic Regulation of p16 and Activation of the DNA Damage Response Pathway12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2007;9(10):840-852.
The molecular hallmarks of inflammation-mediated lung carcinogenesis have not been fully clarified, mainly due to the scarcity of appropriate animal models. We have used a silica-induced multistep lung carcinogenesis model driven by chronic inflammation to study the evolution of molecular markers and genetic alterations. We analyzed markers of DNA damage response (DDR), proliferative stress, and telomeric stress: γ-H2AX, p16, p53, and TERT. Lung cancer-related epigenetic and genetic alterations, including promoter hypermethylation status of p16(CDKN2A), APC, CDH13, Rassf1, and Nore1A, as well as mutations of Tp53, epidermal growth factor receptor, K-ras, N-ras, and c-H-ras, have been also studied. Our results showed DDR pathway activation in preneoplastic lesions, in association with inducible nitric oxide synthase and p53 induction. p16 was also induced in early tumorigenic progression and was inactivated in bronchiolar dysplasias and tumors. Remarkably, lack of mutations of Ras and epidermal growth factor receptor, and a very low frequency of Tp53 mutations suggest that they are not required for tumorigenesis in this model. In contrast, epigenetic alterations in p16(CDKN2A), CDH13, and APC, but not in Rassf1 and Nore1A, were clearly observed. These data suggest the existence of a specific molecular signature of inflammation-driven lung carcinogenesis that shares some, but not all, of the molecular landmarks of chemically induced lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2040211  PMID: 17971904
lung cancer; inflammation; animal model; preneoplastic lesions; DNA damage response
25.  Lung cancer trends: smoking, obesity, and sex assessed in the Staten Island University’s lung cancer patients 
The incidence of lung cancer in the United States decreased by 1.8% from 1991 to 2005 while it increased by 0.5% in females. We assessed whether nonsmokers afflicted with lung cancer at Staten Island University Hospital are disproportionately female in comparison to national averages. We also evaluated different factors including race, histology, and body mass index (BMI) in correlation with smoking history.
A retrospective chart review was conducted from 2005 to 2011 on 857 patients. Patients were divided into two groups according to their smoking status: current or ever-smokers, and former or never-smokers. A chi-square test for categorical data and multivariate logistic regression analyses was used to study the relation between BMI and the other clinical and demographic data.
Forty-nine percent of patients were men and 51% were women with a mean age at diagnosis of 67.8 years. Current smokers were most common (50.2%) followed by ever-smokers (18.2%), former smokers (15.8%) and never-smokers (15.6%). Forty eight percent had stage IV lung cancer upon presentation. Never-smokers with lung cancer were 24 times more likely to be females. However, the proportion of female former smokers (31.6%) was lower than the proportion of male former smokers (68.4%) (P=0.001). There was no significant association between American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage, sex, race, and histological type in the two smoking groups. Current/ever-smokers tended to be younger at age of diagnosis (P=0.0003). BMI was lower in the current/ever-smokers (26.8 kg/m2) versus former/never-smokers (28.8) in males (P=0.0005). BMI was significantly higher in males (30.26) versus females (25.25) in the never-smoker category (P=0.004). Current smokers, compared to others, had a lower BMI in males (26.4 versus 28.3; P=0.0001) and females (25.5 versus 26.9; P=0.013) but the mean BMI for all groups was in the overweight/obese range.
Our population of lung cancer patients although demographically distinct, reflects a similar proportion of afflicted nonsmokers to the national population. Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, but there is also a possible direct correlation with BMI that would support obesity as a potential risk factor for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4085324  PMID: 25061333
lung; cancer; smoking; obesity; BMI; Staten Island

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