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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.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-2518
PMCID: PMC2798850  PMID: 18349282
2.  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.
doi:10.2147/OTT.S67355
PMCID: PMC4222896  PMID: 25382980
prognosis; methylation; lung cancer; tumor suppressor gene; meta-analysis; odds ratio; hazard ratio
3.  Hypermethylation of CCND2 May Reflect a Smoking-Induced Precancerous Change in the Lung 
Journal of Oncology  2011;2011:950140.
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.
doi:10.1155/2011/950140
PMCID: PMC3090638  PMID: 21577262
4.  Aberrant DNA Methylation of OLIG1, a Novel Prognostic Factor in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e108.
Background
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Currently, tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging provides the most accurate prognostic parameter for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the overall survival of patients with resectable tumors varies significantly, indicating the need for additional prognostic factors to better predict the outcome of the disease, particularly within a given TNM subset.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we investigated whether adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas could be differentiated based on their global aberrant DNA methylation patterns. We performed restriction landmark genomic scanning on 40 patient samples and identified 47 DNA methylation targets that together could distinguish the two lung cancer subgroups. The protein expression of one of those targets, oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1), significantly correlated with survival in NSCLC patients, as shown by univariate and multivariate analyses. Furthermore, the hazard ratio for patients negative for OLIG1 protein was significantly higher than the one for those patients expressing the protein, even at low levels.
Conclusions
Multivariate analyses of our data confirmed that OLIG1 protein expression significantly correlates with overall survival in NSCLC patients, with a relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval 0.77–0.91, p < 0.001) along with T and N stages, as indicated by a Cox proportional hazard model. Taken together, our results suggests that OLIG1 protein expression could be utilized as a novel prognostic factor, which could aid in deciding which NSCLC patients might benefit from more aggressive therapy. This is potentially of great significance, as the addition of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in T2N0 NSCLC patients is still controversial.
Christopher Plass and colleagues find thatOLIG1 expression correlates with survival in lung cancer patients and suggest that it could be used in deciding which patients are likely to benefit from more aggressive therapy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Like other cancers, treatment of NCSLC depends on the “TNM stage” at which the cancer is detected. Staging takes into account the size and local spread of the tumor (its T classification), whether nearby lymph nodes contain tumor cells (its N classification), and whether tumor cells have spread (metastasized) throughout the body (its M classification). Stage I tumors are confined to the lung and are removed surgically. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Stage III tumors have spread throughout the chest, and stage IV tumors have metastasized around the body; patients with both of these stages are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer, but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer, survive for five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
TNM staging is the best way to predict the likely outcome (prognosis) for patients with NSCLC, but survival times for patients with stage I and II tumors vary widely. Another prognostic marker—maybe a “molecular signature”—that could distinguish patients who are likely to respond to treatment from those whose cancer will inevitably progress would be very useful. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral changes are caused by alterations in the pattern of proteins expressed by the cells. But what causes these alterations? The answer in some cases is “epigenetic changes” or chemical modifications of genes. In cancer cells, methyl groups are aberrantly added to GC-rich gene regions. These so-called “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters (sequences that control the transcription of DNA into mRNA, the template for protein production), and their methylation stops the promoters working and silences the gene. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether aberrant methylation patterns vary between NSCLC subtypes and whether specific aberrant methylations are associated with survival and can, therefore, be used prognostically.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “restriction landmark genomic scanning” (RLGS) to catalog global aberrant DNA methylation patterns in human lung tumor samples. In RLGS, DNA is cut into fragments with a restriction enzyme (a protein that cuts at specific DNA sequences), end-labeled, and separated using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to give a pattern of spots. Because methylation stops some restriction enzymes cutting their target sequence, normal lung tissue and lung tumor samples yield different patterns of spots. The researchers used these patterns to identify 47 DNA methylation targets (many in CpG islands) that together distinguished between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major types of NSCLCs. Next, they measured mRNA production from the genes with the greatest difference in methylation between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. OLIG1 (the gene that encodes a protein involved in nerve cell development) had one of the highest differences in mRNA production between these tumor types. Furthermore, three-quarters of NSCLCs had reduced or no expression of OLIG1 protein and, when the researchers analyzed the association between OLIG1 protein expression and overall survival in patients with NSCLC, reduced OLIG1 protein expression was associated with reduced survival.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that different types of NSCLC can be distinguished by examining their aberrant methylation patterns. This suggests that the establishment of different DNA methylation patterns might be related to the cell type from which the tumors developed. Alternatively, the different aberrant methylation patterns might reflect the different routes that these cells take to becoming tumor cells. This research identifies a potential new prognostic marker for NSCLC by showing that OLIG1 protein expression correlates with overall survival in patients with NSCLC. This correlation needs to be tested in a clinical setting to see if adding OLIG1 expression to the current prognostic parameters can lead to better treatment choices for early-stage lung cancer patients and ultimately improve these patients' overall survival.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040108.
Patient and professional information on lung cancer, including staging (in English and Spanish), is available from the US National Cancer Institute
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on non-small cell lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancerbackup provides patient information on lung cancer
CancerQuest, provided by Emory University, has information about how cancer develops (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence gives background information and the latest news about epigenetics (in several European languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040108
PMCID: PMC1831740  PMID: 17388669
5.  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.
Background
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”.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1002/cncr.25472
PMCID: PMC3023841  PMID: 20945327
TCF21; methylation; biomarker; lung cancer; screening
6.  Integrative Genomic Analyses Identify BRF2 as a Novel Lineage-Specific Oncogene in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(7):e1000315.
William Lockwood and colleagues show that the focal amplification of a gene, BRF2, on Chromosome 8p12 plays a key role in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
Background
Traditionally, non-small cell lung cancer is treated as a single disease entity in terms of systemic therapy. Emerging evidence suggests the major subtypes—adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to therapy. Identification of the molecular differences between these tumor types will have a significant impact in designing novel therapies that can improve the treatment outcome.
Methods and Findings
We used an integrative genomics approach, combing high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression microarray profiles, to compare AC and SqCC tumors in order to uncover alterations at the DNA level, with corresponding gene transcription changes, which are selected for during development of lung cancer subtypes. Through the analysis of multiple independent cohorts of clinical tumor samples (>330), normal lung tissues and bronchial epithelial cells obtained by bronchial brushing in smokers without lung cancer, we identified the overexpression of BRF2, a gene on Chromosome 8p12, which is specific for development of SqCC of lung. Genetic activation of BRF2, which encodes a RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription initiation factor, was found to be associated with increased expression of small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) that are involved in processes essential for cell growth, such as RNA splicing. Ectopic expression of BRF2 in human bronchial epithelial cells induced a transformed phenotype and demonstrates downstream oncogenic effects, whereas RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown suppressed growth and colony formation of SqCC cells overexpressing BRF2, but not AC cells. Frequent activation of BRF2 in >35% preinvasive bronchial carcinoma in situ, as well as in dysplastic lesions, provides evidence that BRF2 expression is an early event in cancer development of this cell lineage.
Conclusions
This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that the focal amplification of a gene in Chromosome 8p12, plays a key role in squamous cell lineage specificity of the disease. Our data suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 represents a unique mechanism of SqCC lung tumorigenesis through the increase of Pol III-mediated transcription. It can serve as a marker for lung SqCC and may provide a novel target for therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death. Every year, 1.3 million people die from this disease, which is mainly caused by smoking. Most cases of lung cancer are “non-small cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs). Like all cancers, NSCLC starts when cells begin to divide uncontrollably and to move round the body (metastasize) because of changes (mutations) in their genes. These mutations are often in “oncogenes,” genes that, when activated, encourage cell division. Oncogenes can be activated by mutations that alter the properties of the proteins they encode or by mutations that increase the amount of protein made from them, such as gene amplification (an increase in the number of copies of a gene). If NSCLC is diagnosed before it has spread from the lungs (stage I disease), it can be surgically removed and many patients with stage I NSCLC survive for more than 5 years after their diagnosis. Unfortunately, in more than half of patients, NSCLC has metastasized before it is diagnosed. This stage IV NSCLC can be treated with chemotherapy (toxic chemicals that kill fast-growing cancer cells) but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer are alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Traditionally, NSCLC has been regarded as a single disease in terms of treatment. However, emerging evidence suggests that the two major subtypes of NSCLC—adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to chemotherapy. Adenocarcinoma and SqCC start in different types of lung cell and experts think that for each cell type in the body, specific combinations of mutations interact with the cell type's own unique characteristics to provide the growth and survival advantage needed for cancer development. If this is true, then identifying the molecular differences between adenocarcinoma and SqCC could provide targets for more effective therapies for these major subtypes of NSCLC. Amplification of a chromosome region called 8p12 is very common in NSCLC, which suggests that an oncogene that drives lung cancer development is present in this chromosome region. In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility by looking for an amplified gene in the 8p12 chromosome region that makes increased amounts of protein in lung SqCC but not in lung adenocarcinoma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called comparative genomic hybridization to show that focal regions of Chromosome 8p are amplified in about 40% of lung SqCCs, but that DNA loss in this region is the most common alteration in lung adenocarcinomas. Ten genes in the 8p12 chromosome region were expressed at higher levels in the SqCC samples that they examined than in adenocarcinoma samples, they report, and overexpression of five of these genes correlated with amplification of the 8p12 region in the SqCC samples. Only one of the genes—BRF2—was more highly expressed in squamous carcinoma cells than in normal bronchial epithelial cells (the cell type that lines the tubes that take air into the lungs and from which SqCC develops). Artificially induced expression of BRF2 in bronchial epithelial cells made these normal cells behave like tumor cells, whereas reduction of BRF2 expression in squamous carcinoma cells made them behave more like normal bronchial epithelial cells. Finally, BRF2 was frequently activated in two early stages of squamous cell carcinoma—bronchial carcinoma in situ and dysplastic lesions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Together, these findings show that the focal amplification of chromosome region 8p12 plays a role in the development of lung SqCC but not in the development of lung adenocarcinoma, the other major subtype of NSCLC. These findings identify BRF2 (which encodes a RNA polymerase III transcription initiation factor, a protein that is required for the synthesis of RNA molecules that help to control cell growth) as a lung SqCC-specific oncogene and uncover a unique mechanism for lung SqCC development. Most importantly, these findings suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 could be used as a marker for lung SqCC, which might facilitate the early detection of this type of NSCLC and that BRF2 might provide a new target for therapy.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000315.
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small cell carcinoma (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000315
PMCID: PMC2910599  PMID: 20668658
7.  Clinicopathological significance and potential drug target of T-cadherin in NSCLC 
Background
Previous studies demonstrate that T-cadherin is a candidate tumor suppressor in several types of human tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lack of protein expression of T-cadherin by hypermethylation has been found to play an important role in lung alveolar differentiation regulation and epithelial tumorigenesis. However, the correlation between T-cadherin hypermethylation and clinicopathological characteristics of NSCLC remains unclear. Here we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantitatively evaluate the effects of T-cadherin hypermethylation on the incidence of NSCLC and clinicopathological characteristics.
Methods
A detailed literature search was carried out for related research publications. Analyses of pooled data were performed. Odds ratio (OR) and hazard ratio (HR) were calculated and summarized, respectively.
Results
Final analysis of 1,172 NSCLC patients from 15 eligible studies was performed. T-cadherin hypermethylation was observed to be significantly higher in NSCLC than in normal lung tissue, based on the pooled OR from nine studies including 532 NSCLC and 372 normal lung tissue samples (OR=8.19, 95% confidence interval [CI]=5.41–12.39, P<0.00001). T-cadherin hypermethylation may also be associated with pathological types. The pooled OR was obtained from four studies including 111patients with squamous cell carcinoma and 106 with adenocarcinoma (OR=0.35, 95% CI=0.19–0.66, P=0.001), which indicated that T-cadherin hypermethylation plays a more important role in the pathogenesis of adenocarcinoma. We did not find that T-cadherin hypermethylation was correlated with the sex or smoking status, clinical stages, or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation status. However, T-cadherin hypermethylation was found to be significantly higher in poorly differentiated NSCLC than in moderately and highly differentiated NSCLC, and NSCLC patients with T-cadherin hypermethylation had a lower survival rate than those without T-cadherin hypermethylation.
Conclusion
The results of this meta-analysis suggest that T-cadherin hypermethylation is associated with an increased risk and worse survival in NSCLC. T-cadherin hypermethylation, which induces the inactivation of T-cadherin gene, plays an important role in the carcinogenesis, cancer progression, as well as clinical outcome.
doi:10.2147/DDDT.S74259
PMCID: PMC4278732  PMID: 25565774
methylation; lung cancer; meta-analysis; EGFR; odds ratio; hazard ratio
8.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
Background
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
Conclusions
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000378.
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000378
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495
9.  Methylation Markers of Early-Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39813.
Background
Despite of intense research in early cancer detection, there is a lack of biomarkers for the reliable detection of malignant tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). DNA methylation changes are common and relatively stable in various types of cancers, and may be used as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers.
Methods
We performed DNA methylation profiling of samples from 48 patients with stage I NSCLC and 18 matching cancer-free lung samples using microarrays that cover the promoter regions of more than 14,500 genes. We correlated DNA methylation changes with gene expression levels and performed survival analysis.
Results
We observed hypermethylation of 496 CpGs in 379 genes and hypomethylation of 373 CpGs in 335 genes in NSCLC. Compared to adenocarcinoma samples, squamous cell carcinoma samples had 263 CpGs in 223 hypermethylated genes and 513 CpGs in 436 hypomethylated genes. 378 of 869 (43.5%) CpG sites discriminating the NSCLC and control samples showed an inverse correlation between CpG site methylation and gene expression levels. As a result of a survival analysis, we found 10 CpGs in 10 genes, in which the methylation level differs in different survival groups.
Conclusions
We have identified a set of genes with altered methylation in NSCLC and found that a minority of them showed an inverse correlation with gene expression levels. We also found a set of genes that associated with the survival of the patients. These newly-identified marker candidates for the molecular screening of NSCLC will need further analysis in order to determine their clinical utility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039813
PMCID: PMC3387223  PMID: 22768131
10.  A Gene Expression Signature Predicts Survival of Patients with Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e467.
Background
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Nearly 50% of patients with stages I and II non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) will die from recurrent disease despite surgical resection. No reliable clinical or molecular predictors are currently available for identifying those at high risk for developing recurrent disease. As a consequence, it is not possible to select those high-risk patients for more aggressive therapies and assign less aggressive treatments to patients at low risk for recurrence.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we applied a meta-analysis of datasets from seven different microarray studies on NSCLC for differentially expressed genes related to survival time (under 2 y and over 5 y). A consensus set of 4,905 genes from these studies was selected, and systematic bias adjustment in the datasets was performed by distance-weighted discrimination (DWD). We identified a gene expression signature consisting of 64 genes that is highly predictive of which stage I lung cancer patients may benefit from more aggressive therapy. Kaplan-Meier analysis of the overall survival of stage I NSCLC patients with the 64-gene expression signature demonstrated that the high- and low-risk groups are significantly different in their overall survival. Of the 64 genes, 11 are related to cancer metastasis (APC, CDH8, IL8RB, LY6D, PCDHGA12, DSP, NID, ENPP2, CCR2, CASP8, and CASP10) and eight are involved in apoptosis (CASP8, CASP10, PIK3R1, BCL2, SON, INHA, PSEN1, and BIK).
Conclusions
Our results indicate that gene expression signatures from several datasets can be reconciled. The resulting signature is useful in predicting survival of stage I NSCLC and might be useful in informing treatment decisions.
Meta-analysis of several lung cancer gene expression studies yields a set of 64 genes whose expression profile is useful in predicting survival of patients with early-stage lung cancer and possibly informing treatment decisions.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and are mainly caused by smoking. Like other cancers, how NSCLC is treated depends on the “stage” at which it is detected. Stage IA NSCLCs are small and confined to the lung and can be removed surgically; patients with slightly larger stage IB tumors often receive chemotherapy after surgery. In stage II NSCLC, cancer cells may be present in lymph nodes near the tumor. Surgery plus chemotherapy is the usual treatment for this stage and for some stage III NSCLCs. However, in this stage, the tumor can be present throughout the chest and surgery is not always possible. For such cases and in stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread throughout the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. The stage at which NSCLC is detected also determines how well patients respond to treatment. Those who can be treated surgically do much better than those who can't. So, whereas only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer survive for 5 years after diagnosis, about 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer live at least this long.
Why Was This Study Done?
Even stage I and II lung cancers often recur and there is no accurate way to identify the patients in which this will happen. If there was, these patients could be given aggressive chemotherapy, so the search is on for a “molecular signature” to help identify which NSCLCs are likely to recur. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral differences are caused by changes in their genetic material that alter their patterns of RNA transcription and protein expression. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether data from several microarray studies (a technique used to catalog the genes expressed in cells) can be pooled to construct a gene expression signature that predicts the survival of patients with stage I NSCLC.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers took the data from seven independent microarray studies (including a new study of their own) that recorded gene expression profiles related to survival time (less than 2 years and greater than 5 years) for stage I NSCLC. Because these studies had been done in different places with slightly different techniques, the researchers applied a statistical tool called distance-weighted discrimination to smooth out any systematic differences among the studies before identifying 64 genes whose expression was associated with survival. Most of these genes are involved in cell adhesion, cell motility, cell proliferation, and cell death, all processes that are altered in cancer cells. The researchers then developed a statistical model that allowed them to use the gene expression and survival data to calculate risk scores for nearly 200 patients in five of the datasets. When they separated the patients into high and low risk groups on the basis of these scores, the two groups were significantly different in terms of survival time. Indeed, the gene expression signature was better at predicting outcome than routine staging. Finally, the researchers validated the gene expression signature by showing that it predicted survival with more than 85% accuracy in two independent datasets.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The 64 gene expression signature identified here could help clinicians prepare treatment plans for patients with stage I NSCLC. Because it accurately predicts survival in patients with adenocarcinoma or squamous cell cancer (the two major subtypes of NSCLC), it potentially indicates which of these patients should receive aggressive chemotherapy and which can be spared this unpleasant treatment. Previous attempts to establish gene expression signatures to predict outcome have used data from small groups of patients and have failed when tested in additional patients. In contrast, this new signature seems to be generalizable. Nevertheless, its ability to predict outcomes must be confirmed in further studies before it is routinely adopted by oncologists for treatment planning.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030467.
US National Cancer Institute information on lung cancer for patients and health professionals.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entries on small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer.
Cancer Research UK, information on patients about all aspects of lung cancer.
Wikipedia pages on DNA microarrays and expression profiling (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit).
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030467
PMCID: PMC1716187  PMID: 17194181
11.  Association of promoter methylation with histologic type and pleural indentation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 
Diagnostic Pathology  2011;6:48.
Background
Lung cancer is a major cause of death worldwide. Gene promoter methylation is a major inactivation mechanism of tumor-related genes, some of which can be served as a biomarker for early diagnosis and prognosis evaluation of lung cancer.
Methods
We determined the promoter methylation of 6 genes using quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP) technique in 96 clinically well-characterized non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Results
Highly frequent promoter methylation was found in NSCLC. With 100% diagnostic specificity, high sensitivity, ranging from 44.9 to 84.1%, was found for each of the 6 genes. Our data also showed that promoter methylation was closely associated with histologic type. Most of genes were more frequently methylated in squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) compared to adenocarcinomas (ADC). Moreover, promoter methylation significantly increased the risk of pleural indentation in NSCLC.
Conclusion
Our findings provided evidences that multiple genes were aberrantly methylated in lung tumorigenesis, and demonstrated the promoter methylation was closely associated with clinicopathologic characteristics of NSCLC. More importantly, we first revealed promoter methylation may be served as a potentially increased risk factor for pleural indentation of NSCLC patients.
doi:10.1186/1746-1596-6-48
PMCID: PMC3123260  PMID: 21639921
12.  Abnormal methylation of seven genes and their associations with clinical characteristics in early stage non-small cell lung cancer 
Oncology Letters  2013;5(4):1211-1218.
To identify novel abnormally methylated genes in early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we analyzed the methylation status of 13 genes (ALX1, BCL2, FOXL2, HPP1, MYF6, OC2, PDGFRA, PHOX2A, PITX2, RARB, SIX6, SMPD3 and SOX1) in cancer tissues from 101 cases of stage I NSCLC patients and lung tissues from 30 cases of non-cancerous lung disease controls, using methylation-specific PCR (MSP). The methylation frequencies (29.70–64.36%) of 7 genes (MYF6, SIX6, SOX1, RARB, BCL2, PHOX2A and FOLX2) in stage I NSCLC were significantly higher compared with those in non-cancerous lung disease controls (P<0.05). The co-methylation of SIX6 and SOX1, or the co-methyaltion of SIX6, RARB and SOX1 was associated with adenosquamous carcinoma (ADC), and the co-methylation of BCL2, RARB and SIX6 was associated with smoking. A panel of 4 genes (MYF6, SIX6, BCL2 and RARB) may offer a sensitivity of 93.07% and a specificity of 83.33% in the diagnosis of stage I NSCLC. Furthermore, we also detected the expression of 8 pathological markers (VEGF, HER-2, P53, P21, EGFR, CHGA, SYN and EMA) in cancer tissues of stage I NSCLC by immunohistochemistry, and found that high expression levels of p53 and CHGA were associated with the methylation of BCL2 (P=0.025) and PHOX2A (P=0.023), respectively. In this study, among the 7 genes which demonstrated hypermethylation in stage I NSCLC compared with non-cancerous lung diseases, 5 genes (MYF6, SIX6, PHOX2A, FOLX2 and SOX1) were found for the first time to be abonormally methylated in NSCLC. Further study of these genes shed light on the carcinogenesis of NSCLC.
doi:10.3892/ol.2013.1161
PMCID: PMC3629069  PMID: 23599765
DNA methylation; non-small cell lung cancer; stage I; smoking
13.  Characteristics of additional primary malignancies in Korean patients with non-small cell lung cancer 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(6):737-744.
Background
Long-term cancer survival results in increasing numbers of multiple primary malignancies in one person, which represents growing clinical challenge in patients with lung cancer. This study was intended to assess the incidence rate, temporal relationship, and characteristics of additional primary malignancies (APM) in Korean patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Materials and methods
We reviewed all 632 NSCLCs (313 adenocarcinomas, 276 squamous cell carcinomas, and 43 other NSCLCs) patients who underwent curative resection of NSCLC at the Dong-A University Medical Center from January 1991 to December 2009. We used the hospital information system and medical record to collect data about these patients and their tumors. In the data base, the following parameters were recorded: patient’s demographics (age, gender and smoking habit), time interval between the diagnosis of the NSCLC and APM, NSCLC characteristics (date of diagnosis, histology, TNM staging, operative details, and survival) and characteristics of APM (site of tumor, date of diagnosis, histology, TNM staging, operative details, and survival).
Results
Eighty-one (12.8%) of the 632 patients with NSCLC had APMs. Thirty-three patients (40.8%) had APM in their history [occurring earlier than six months or more before NSCLC diagnosis; prior (P) group], 18 patients (22.2%) were diagnosed with an APM synchronously [diagnosed within six months before or after NSCLC; synchronous (S) group], and the remaining 30 patients (37.0%) were diagnosed with an APM during the follow-up period [occurring six months or more after NSCLC diagnosis; metachronous (M) group]. The second primary malignancy occurred most often two to five years in both P group (39.4%) and M group (36.7%). The most frequent APM was stomach cancer (25.0%), followed by colorectal cancer (19.0%), and thyroid cancer (10.7%). Interestingly, we found difference in the incidence of APM between different NSCLC histotypes. In the adenocarcinoma group, colorectal cancer was the most frequently discovered [12 of 46 events (26.1%)], followed by thyroid cancer [9 of 46 events (19.6%)]. In the squamous cell carcinoma group, stomach cancer occurred most frequently [12 of 36 events (33.3%)].
Conclusions
APMs are commonly seen in patients with NSCLC, either preceding or following its occurrence. Therefore, it is important to recognize the characteristic of NSCLC patients with APM in order to detect the second primary malignancy as early as possible and to achieve a possible cure of disease.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2013.11.23
PMCID: PMC3886687  PMID: 24409349
Multiple primary malignancies; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
14.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Promoter Methylation in Lung Cancer Identifies Novel Methylation Markers for Multiple Malignancies  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e486.
Background
Promoter hypermethylation coupled with loss of heterozygosity at the same locus results in loss of gene function in many tumor cells. The “rules” governing which genes are methylated during the pathogenesis of individual cancers, how specific methylation profiles are initially established, or what determines tumor type-specific methylation are unknown. However, DNA methylation markers that are highly specific and sensitive for common tumors would be useful for the early detection of cancer, and those required for the malignant phenotype would identify pathways important as therapeutic targets.
Methods and Findings
In an effort to identify new cancer-specific methylation markers, we employed a high-throughput global expression profiling approach in lung cancer cells. We identified 132 genes that have 5′ CpG islands, are induced from undetectable levels by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine in multiple non-small cell lung cancer cell lines, and are expressed in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells. As expected, these genes were also expressed in normal lung, but often not in companion primary lung cancers. Methylation analysis of a subset (45/132) of these promoter regions in primary lung cancer (n = 20) and adjacent nonmalignant tissue (n = 20) showed that 31 genes had acquired methylation in the tumors, but did not show methylation in normal lung or peripheral blood cells. We studied the eight most frequently and specifically methylated genes from our lung cancer dataset in breast cancer (n = 37), colon cancer (n = 24), and prostate cancer (n = 24) along with counterpart nonmalignant tissues. We found that seven loci were frequently methylated in both breast and lung cancers, with four showing extensive methylation in all four epithelial tumors.
Conclusions
By using a systematic biological screen we identified multiple genes that are methylated with high penetrance in primary lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancers. The cross-tumor methylation pattern we observed for these novel markers suggests that we have identified a partial promoter hypermethylation signature for these common malignancies. These data suggest that while tumors in different tissues vary substantially with respect to gene expression, there may be commonalities in their promoter methylation profiles that represent targets for early detection screening or therapeutic intervention.
John Minna and colleagues report that a group of genes are commonly methylated in primary lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tumors or cancers contain cells that have lost many of the control mechanisms that normally regulate their behavior. Unlike normal cells, which only divide to repair damaged tissues, cancer cells divide uncontrollably. They also gain the ability to move round the body and start metastases in secondary locations. These changes in behavior result from alterations in their genetic material. For example, mutations (permanent changes in the sequence of nucleotides in the cell's DNA) in genes known as oncogenes stimulate cells to divide constantly. Mutations in another group of genes—tumor suppressor genes—disable their ability to restrain cell growth. Key tumor suppressor genes are often completely lost in cancer cells. But not all the genetic changes in cancer cells are mutations. Some are “epigenetic” changes—chemical modifications of genes that affect the amount of protein made from them. In cancer cells, methyl groups are often added to CG-rich regions—this is called hypermethylation. These “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters—sequences that control the transcription of DNA into RNA, the template for protein production—and their methylation switches off the promoter. Methylation of the promoter of one copy of a tumor suppressor gene, which often coincides with the loss of the other copy of the gene, is thought to be involved in cancer development.
Why Was This Study Done?
The rules that govern which genes are hypermethylated during the development of different cancer types are not known, but it would be useful to identify any DNA methylation events that occur regularly in common cancers for two reasons. First, specific DNA methylation markers might be useful for the early detection of cancer. Second, identifying these epigenetic changes might reveal cellular pathways that are changed during cancer development and so identify new therapeutic targets. In this study, the researchers have used a systematic biological screen to identify genes that are methylated in many lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancers—all cancers that form in “epithelial” tissues.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used microarray expression profiling to examine gene expression patterns in several lung cancer and normal lung cell lines. In this technique, labeled RNA molecules isolated from cells are applied to a “chip” carrying an array of gene fragments. Here, they stick to the fragment that represents the gene from which they were made, which allows the genes that the cells express to be catalogued. By comparing the expression profiles of lung cancer cells and normal lung cells before and after treatment with a chemical that inhibits DNA methylation, the researchers identified genes that were methylated in the cancer cells—that is, genes that were expressed in normal cells but not in cancer cells unless methylation was inhibited. 132 of these genes contained CpG islands. The researchers examined the promoters of 45 of these genes in lung cancer cells taken straight from patients and found that 31 of the promoters were methylated in tumor tissues but not in adjacent normal tissues. Finally, the researchers looked at promoter methylation of the eight genes most frequently and specifically methylated in the lung cancer samples in breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Seven of the genes were frequently methylated in both lung and breast cancers; four were extensively methylated in all the tumor types.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results identify several new genes that are often methylated in four types of epithelial tumor. The observation that these genes are methylated in multiple independent tumors strongly suggests, but does not prove, that loss of expression of the proteins that they encode helps to convert normal cells into cancer cells. The frequency and diverse patterning of promoter methylation in different tumor types also indicates that methylation is not a random event, although what controls the patterns of methylation is not yet known. The identification of these genes is a step toward building a promoter hypermethylation profile for the early detection of human cancer. Furthermore, although tumors in different tissues vary greatly with respect to gene expression patterns, the similarities seen in this study in promoter methylation profiles might help to identify new therapeutic targets common to several cancer types.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030486.
US National Cancer Institute, information for patients on understanding cancer
CancerQuest, information provided by Emory University about how cancer develops
Cancer Research UK, information for patients on cancer biology
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence, background information and latest news about epigenetics
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030486
PMCID: PMC1716188  PMID: 17194187
15.  DNA Methylation Changes in Atypical Adenomatous Hyperplasia, Adenocarcinoma In Situ, and Lung Adenocarcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21443.
Background
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021443
PMCID: PMC3121768  PMID: 21731750
16.  Cytological examination of pleural cavity lavage accompanied by the study of gene promoter hypermethylation of p16 and O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase genes in diagnostics of non-small cell lung cancer metastatic changes into pleura 
Contemporary Oncology  2012;16(4):322-327.
Aim of the study
Metastases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) into pleura disqualify a patient from surgery and present a bad prognostic index. The aim of the study was to find out whether washing out the pleural cavity in such cases and examining obtained washings for presence of cancer cells will help to detect early NSCLC metastases into pleura, and also whether negative results of the cytology determine whether hypermethylation of these genes will increase the sensitivity of this examination.
Material and methods
The study consisted of the examination of 76 patients, including 59 operated on for NSCLC and 17 operated on for other reasons. Pleural washing fluid collected during the surgery was subjected to cytological examination as well as examined to determine the presence of promoter region hypermethylation of p16 and MGMT genes.
Results
Positive cytological results of pleural lavage were confirmed in 4 persons (7%) with NSCLC. The presence of promoter region hypermethylation of one or both examined genes was found in 3 patients (18%) in the control group and in 47 (80%) in the study group. Sex, occupational exposure, smoking cigarettes, and NSCLC histological type did not have an influence on the presence of cancer cells or hypermethylation in the pleural lavage fluid. Positive cytology results were more frequent at the T4 stage of NSCLC. Hypermethylation was more frequent in the research group (p < 0.01). Cancer cells and hypermethylation did not occur more frequently in pleural lavage fluid of patients with metastases into pleura.
Conclusions
The cytological examination and promoter region hypermethylation assessment of the p16 gene and MGMT gene in pleural lavage cells do not allow one to detect early metastasis of NSCLC into pleura.
doi:10.5114/wo.2012.30061
PMCID: PMC3687432  PMID: 23788902
lung cancer; pleura; cytology; DNA methylation; p16 gene; O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase
17.  Aberrant methylation of LINE-1, SLIT2, MAL and IGFBP7 in non-small cell lung cancer 
Oncology Reports  2013;29(4):1308-1314.
Genome-wide DNA hypomethylation and gene hypermethylation play important roles in instability and carcinogenesis. Methylation in long interspersed nucleotide element 1 (LINE-1) is a good indicator of the global DNA methylation level within a cell. Slit homolog 2 (SLIT2), myelin and lymphocyte protein gene (MAL) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) are known to be hypermethylated in various malignancies. The aim of the present study was to assess the precise methylation levels of LINE-1, SLIT2, MAL and IGFBP7 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) using a pyrosequencing assay. Methylation of all regions was examined in 56 primary NSCLCs using a pyrosequencing assay. Changes in mRNA expression levels of SLIT2, MAL and IGFBP7 were measured before and after treatment with a demethylating agent. Methylation of these genes was also examined in 9 lung cancer cell lines using RT-PCR and a pyrosequencing assay. Frequencies of hypomethylation of LINE-1 and hypermethylation of SLIT2, MAL and IGFBP7, defined by predetermined cut off values, were 55, 64, 46 and 54% in NSCLCs, respectively and exhibited tumor-specific features. The hypermethylation of all genes was well correlated with changes in expression. The methylation level and frequency of MAL were significantly higher in smokers and in patients without EGFR mutations. Through accurate measurement of methylation levels using pyrosequencing, hypomethylation of LINE-1 and hypermethylation of SLIT2, MAL and IGFBP7 were frequently detected in NSCLCs and associated with various clinical features. Analysis of the methylation profiles of these genes may, therefore, provide novel opportunities for the therapy of NSCLCs.
doi:10.3892/or.2013.2266
PMCID: PMC3621652  PMID: 23381221
LINE-1; SLIT2; MAL; IGFBP7; pyrosequencing; methylation
18.  Highly frequent promoter methylation and PIK3CA amplification in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:147.
Background
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Genetic and epigenetic alterations have been identified frequently in lung cancer, such as promoter methylation, gene mutations and genomic amplification. However, the interaction between genetic and epigenetic events and their significance in lung tumorigenesis remains poorly understood.
Methods
We determined the promoter methylation of 6 genes and PIK3CA amplification using quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP) and real-time quantitative PCR, respectively, and explore the association of promoter methylation with PIK3CA amplification in a large cohort of clinically well-characterized non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Results
Highly frequent promoter methylation was observed in NSCLC. With 100% diagnostic specificity, excellent sensitivity, ranging from 45.8 to 84.1%, was found for each of the 6 genes. The promoter methylation was associated with histologic type. Methylation of CALCA, CDH1, DAPK1, and EVX2 was more common in squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) compared to adenocarcinomas (ADC). Conversely, there was a trend toward a higher frequency of RASSF1A methylation in ADC than SCC. In addition, PIK3CA amplification was frequently found in NSCLC, and was associated with certain clinicopathologic features, such as smoking history, histologic type and pleural indentation. Importantly, aberrant promoter methylation of certain genes was significantly associated with PIK3CA amplification.
Conclusions
Our data showed highly frequent promoter methylation and PIK3CA amplification in Chinese NSCLC population, and first demonstrated the associations of gene methylation with PIK3CA amplification, suggesting that these epigenetic events may be a consequence of overactivation of PI3K/Akt pathway.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-147
PMCID: PMC3098185  PMID: 21507233
Promoter methylation; PI3K/Akt pathway; PIK3CA amplification; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); clinicopathologic characteristics
19.  Quantitative assessment of the diagnostic role of APC promoter methylation in non-small cell lung cancer 
Clinical Epigenetics  2014;6(1):5.
Background
Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) has been reported to be a candidate tumor suppressor in many cancers. However, the diagnostic role of APC promoter methylation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains unclear. We systematically integrated published articles and DNA methylation microarray data to investigate the diagnostic performance of the APC methylation test for NSCLC. Two thousand two hundred and fifty-nine NSCLC tumor samples and 1,039 controls were collected from 17 published studies and TCGA NSCLC data. The association between APC promoter methylation and NSCLC was evaluated in a meta-analysis. An independent DNA methylation microarray dataset from TCGA project, in which five CpG sites located in the promoter region of APC were involved, was used to validate the results of the meta-analysis.
Results
A significant association was observed between APC promoter hypermethylation and NSCLC, with an aggregated odds ratio (OR) of 3.79 (95% CI: 2.22 to 6.45) in a random effects model. Pooled sensitivity and specificity were 0.548 (95% CI: 0.42 to 0.67, P < 0.0001) and 0.776 (95% CI: 0.62 to 0.88, P < 0.0001), respectively. Each of the five CpG sites was much better in prediction (area under the curve, AUC: 0.71 to 0.73) in lung adenocarcinoma (Ad) than in lung squamous cell carcinoma (Sc) (AUC: 0.45 to 0.61). The AUCs of the logistic prediction model based on these five CpGs were 0.73 and 0.60 for Ad and Sc, respectively. Integrated analysis indicated that CpG site location, heterogeneous or autogenous controls, and the proportion of adenocarcinoma in samples were the most significant heterogeneity sources.
Conclusions
The methylation status of APC promoter was strongly associated with NSCLC, especially adenocarcinoma. The APC methylation test could be applied in the clinical diagnosis of lung adenocarcinoma.
doi:10.1186/1868-7083-6-5
PMCID: PMC3997934  PMID: 24661338
APC; DNA methylation; Diagnosis; Meta-analysis; TCGA; NSCLC; Biomarker
20.  Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of non-small cell lung carcinomas 
Background
Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is a complex malignancy that owing to its heterogeneity and poor prognosis poses many challenges to diagnosis, prognosis and patient treatment. DNA methylation is an important mechanism of epigenetic regulation involved in normal development and cancer. It is a very stable and specific modification and therefore in principle a very suitable marker for epigenetic phenotyping of tumors. Here we present a genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of NSCLC samples and paired lung tissues, where we combine MethylCap and next generation sequencing (MethylCap-seq) to provide comprehensive DNA methylation maps of the tumor and paired lung samples. The MethylCap-seq data were validated by bisulfite sequencing and methyl-specific polymerase chain reaction of selected regions.
Results
Analysis of the MethylCap-seq data revealed a strong positive correlation between replicate experiments and between paired tumor/lung samples. We identified 57 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) present in all NSCLC tumors analyzed by MethylCap-seq. While hypomethylated DMRs did not correlate to any particular functional category of genes, the hypermethylated DMRs were strongly associated with genes encoding transcriptional regulators. Furthermore, subtelomeric regions and satellite repeats were hypomethylated in the NSCLC samples. We also identified DMRs that were specific to two of the major subtypes of NSCLC, adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.
Conclusions
Collectively, we provide a resource containing genome-wide DNA methylation maps of NSCLC and their paired lung tissues, and comprehensive lists of known and novel DMRs and associated genes in NSCLC.
doi:10.1186/1756-8935-5-9
PMCID: PMC3407794  PMID: 22726460
DNA Methylation; Epigenetics; MethylCap; Next generation sequencing; Non-small cell lung Cancer
21.  HOXA11 hypermethylation is associated with progression of non-small cell lung cancer 
Oncotarget  2013;4(12):2317-2325.
This study was aimed at understanding the functional significance of HOXA11 hypermethylation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). HOXA11 hypermethylation was characterized in six lung cancer cell lines, and its clinical significance was analyzed using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues from 317 NSCLC patients, and Ki-67 expression was analyzed using immunohistochemistry. The promoter region of HOXA11 was highly methylated in six lung cancer cell lines, but not in normal bronchial epithelial cells. The loss of expression was restored by treatment of the cells with a demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC). Transient transfection of HOXA11 into H23 lung cancer cells resulted in the inhibition of cell migration and proliferation. HOXA11 hypermethylation was found in 218 (69%) of 317 primary NSCLCs. HOXA11 hypermethylation was found at a higher prevalence in squamous cell carcinoma than in adenocarcinoma (74% vs. 63%, respectively). HOXA11 hypermethylation was associated with Ki-67 proliferation index (P = 0.03) and pT stage (P = 0.002), but not with patient survival. Patients with pT2 and pT3 stages were 1.85 times (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04-3.29; P = 0.04) and 5.47 times (95% CI = 1.18-25.50; P = 0.01), respectively, more likely to show HOXA11 hypermethylation than those with pT1 stage, after adjusting for age, sex, and histology. In conclusion, the present study suggests that HOXA11 hypermethylation may contribute to the progression of NSCLC by promoting cell proliferation or migration.
PMCID: PMC3926829  PMID: 24259349
HOXA11; Hypermethylation; Non-small cell lung cancer; Progression; Migration
22.  Identification of a panel of sensitive and specific DNA methylation markers for lung adenocarcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2007;6:70.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-6-70
PMCID: PMC2206053  PMID: 17967182
23.  Promoter Methylation of CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma: Quantitative Evaluation Using Pyrosequencing 
Background
While qualitative analysis of methylation has been reviewed, the quantitative analysis of methylation has rarely been studied. We evaluated the methylation status of CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A promoter regions in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs) by using pyrosequencing. Then, we evaluated the association between methylation at the promoter regions of these tumor suppressor genes and the clinicopathological parameters of the NSCLCs.
Methods
We collected tumor tissues from a total of 53 patients with NSCLCs and analyzed the methylation level of the CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A promoter regions by using pyrosequencing. In addition, we investigated the correlation between the hypermethylation of CDKN2A and the loss of p16INK4A immunoexpression.
Results
Hypermethylation of CDKN2A, RARβ, and RASSF1A promoter regions were 16 (30.2%), 22 (41.5%), and 21 tumors (39.6%), respectively. The incidence of hypermethylation at the CDKN2A promoter in the tumors was higher in undifferentiated large cell carcinomas than in other subtypes (p=0.002). Hyperrmethylation of CDKN2A was significantly associated with p16INK4A immunoexpression loss (p=0.045). With regard to the clinicopathological characteristics of NSCLC, certain histopathological subtypes were found to be strongly associated with the loss of p16INK4A immunoexpression (p=0.016). Squamous cell carcinoma and undifferentiated large cell carcinoma showed p16INK4A immunoexpression loss more frequently. The Kaplan-Meier survival curves analysis showed that methylation level and patient survival were barely related to one another.
Conclusion
We quantitatively analyzed the promoter methylation status by using pyrosequencing. We showed a significant correlation between CDKN2A hypermethylation and p16INK4A immunoexpression loss.
doi:10.4046/trd.2012.73.1.11
PMCID: PMC3475475  PMID: 23101020
DNA Methylation; Genes, p16; RASSF1 Protein, Human; Receptors, Retinoic Acid; Sequence Analysis, DNA; Carcinoma, Non-Small Cell Lung
24.  HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is associated with TIMP3 and CADM1 promoter hypermethylation 
Cancer Medicine  2014;3(5):1185-1196.
Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) in a proportion of tumors. HPV-positive OPSCC is considered a distinct molecular entity with a prognostic advantage compared to HPV-negative cases. Silencing of cancer-related genes by DNA promoter hypermethylation may play an important role in the development of OPSCC. Hence, we examined promoter methylation status in 24 common tumor suppressor genes in a group of 200 OPSCCs to determine differentially methylated genes in HPV-positive versus HPV-negative primary OPSCC. Methylation status was correlated with HPV status, clinical features, and patient survival using multivariate methods. Additionally, methylation status of 16 cervical squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) was compared with HPV-positive OPSCC. Using methylation-specific probe amplification, HPV-positive OPSCC showed a significantly higher cumulative methylation index (CMI) compared to HPV-negative OPSCC (P=0.008). For the genes CDH13, DAPK1, and RARB, both HPV-positive and HPV-negative OPSCC showed promoter hypermethylation in at least 20% of the tumors. HPV status was found to be an independent predictor of promoter hypermethylation of CADM1 (P < 0.001), CHFR (P = 0.027), and TIMP3 (P < 0.001). CADM1 and CHFR showed similar methylation patterns in OPSCC and cervical SCC, but TIMP3 showed no methylation in cervical SCC in contrast to OPSCC. Methylation status of neither individual gene nor CMI was associated with survival. These results suggest that HPV-positive tumors are to a greater extent driven by promotor hypermethylation in these tumor suppressor genes. Especially CADM1 and TIMP3 are significantly more frequently hypermethylated in HPV-positive OPSCC and CHFR in HPV-negative tumors.
doi:10.1002/cam4.313
PMCID: PMC4302669  PMID: 25065733
CADM1; CHFR; HPV; hypermethylation; oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma; TIMP3
25.  Epigenetic Inactivation of Heparan Sulfate (Glucosamine) 3-O-Sulfotransferase 2 in Lung Cancer and Its Role in Tumorigenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79634.
Background
This study was aimed at investigating the functional significance of heparan sulfate (glucosamine) 3-O-sulfotransferase 2 (HS3ST2) hypermethylation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methodology/ Principal Findings
HS3ST2 hypermethylation was characterized in six lung cancer cell lines, and its clinical significance was analyzed using 298 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues and 26 fresh-frozen tissues from 324 NSCLC patients. MS-HRM (methylation-specific high-resolution melting) and EpiTYPERTM assays showed substantial hypermethylation of CpG island at the promoter region of HS3ST2 in six lung cancer cell lines. The silenced gene was demethylated and re-expressed by treatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC). A promoter assay also showed the core promoter activity of HS3ST2 was regulated by methylation. Exogenous expression of HS3ST2 in lung cancer cells H460 and H23 inhibited cell migration, invasion, cell proliferation and whereas knockdown of HS3ST2 in NHBE cells induced cell migration, invasion, and cell proliferation in vitro. A negative correlation was observed between mRNA and methylation levels of HS3ST2 in 26 fresh-frozen tumors tissues (ρ = -0.51, P = 0.009; Spearman’s rank correlation). HS3ST2 hypermethylation was found in 95 (32%) of 298 primary NSCLCs. Patients with HS3ST2 hypermethylation in 193 node-negative stage I-II NSCLCs with a median follow-up period of 5.8 years had poor overall survival (hazard ratio = 2.12, 95% confidence interval = 1.25–3.58, P = 0.005) compared to those without HS3ST2 hypermethylation, after adjusting for age, sex, tumor size, adjuvant therapy, recurrence, and differentiation.
Conclusions/ Significance
The present study suggests that HS3ST2 hypermethylation may be an independent prognostic indicator for overall survival in node-negative stage I-II NSCLC.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079634
PMCID: PMC3827134  PMID: 24265783

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