Gene silencing of O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) by promoter methylation improves the outcome of glioblastoma patients after combined therapy of alkylating chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. The purpose of this study was to assess the frequency of MGMT promoter methylation in soft tissue sarcoma to identify patients eligible for alkylating agent chemotherapy such as temozolomide.
Paraffin tumor blocks of 75 patients with representative STS subtypes were evaluated. The methylation status of the MGMT promoter was assessed by methylation-specific polymerase-chain-reaction analysis (PCR). Furthermore, immunohistochemistry was applied to verify expression of MGMT. MGMT gene silencing was assumed if MGMT promoter methylation was present and the fraction of tumor cells expressing MGMT was 20% or less. Methylation specific PCR detected methylated MGMT promoter in 10/75 cases. Immunohistochemical staining of nuclear MGMT was negative in 15/75 cases. 6/75 tumor samples showed MGMT promoter methylation and negative immunohistochemical nuclear staining of MGMT. In none of the tested STS subtypes we found a fraction of tumors with MGMT silencing exceeding 22%.
MGMT gene silencing is a rare event in soft tissue sarcoma and cannot be recommended as a selection criterion for the therapy of STS patients with alkylating agents such as temozolomide.
Soft tissue sarcoma; O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase; Promoter methylation; Temozolomide; Epigenetic gene silencing; Radiation therapy
A combined therapy of the alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) and radiotherapy is standard treatment, and it improves the survival of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM). The DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) removes the most cytotoxic lesions generated by TMZ, O6-methylguanine, establishing MGMT as one of the most important DNA repair mechanisms of TMZ-induced DNA damage. Thus, the expression of MGMT, its activity, and its promoter methylation status are associated with the response of GBM to TMZ, confirming that MGMT promotes clinical resistance to TMZ. Previous studies have shown that a variety of drugs such as interferon-β (IFN-β), levetiracetam (LEV), resveratrol, and valproic acid (VAP) increased the sensitivity of TMZ through MGMT-dependent or MGMT-independent mechanisms. In this review, we describe drugs and promising molecules that influence the responsiveness of GBM to TMZ and discuss their putative mechanism of action. In MGMT-positive GBMs, drugs that modulate MGMT activity could enhance the therapeutic activity of TMZ. Thus, administration of these drugs as an adjunct to TMZ chemotherapy may have clinical applications in patients with malignant gliomas to improve the outcome.
temozolomide; glioma; MGMT; chemosensitivity; interferon-β; levetiracetam; resveratrol; valproic acid
Temozolomide (TMZ)-based therapy is the standard of care for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and resistance to this drug in GBM is modulated by the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyl-transferase (MGMT). Expression of MGMT is silenced by promoter methylation in approximately half of GBM tumors, and clinical studies have shown that elevated MGMT protein levels or lack of MGMT promoter methylation is associated with TMZ resistance in some, but not all, GBM tumors. In this study, the relationship between MGMT protein expression and tumor response to TMZ was evaluated in four GBM xenograft lines that had been established from patient specimens and maintained by serial subcutaneous passaging in nude mice. Three MGMT unmethylated tumors displayed elevated basal MGMT protein expression, but only two of these were resistant to TMZ therapy (tumors GBM43 and GBM44), while the other (GBM14) displayed a level of TMZ sensitivity that was similar in extent to that seen in a single MGMT hypermethylated line (GBM12). In tissue culture and animal studies, TMZ treatment resulted in robust and prolonged induction of MGMT expression in the resistant GBM43 and GBM44 xenograft lines, while MGMT induction was blunted and abbreviated in GBM14. Consistent with a functional significance of MGMT induction, treatment of GBM43 with a protracted low-dose TMZ regimen was significantly less effective than a shorter high-dose regimen, while survival for GBM14 was improved with the protracted dosing regimen. In conclusion, MGMT expression is dynamically regulated in some MGMT nonmethylated tumors, and in these tumors, protracted dosing regimens may not be effective.
glioblastoma xenografts; MGMT induction; promoter methylation; temozolomide
Background and aims: O6-methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) repairs inappropriately methylated guanine in DNA. MGMT mutations have not previously been reported in cancers, but in colorectal tumours MGMT promoter methylation is common and has been associated with increased G:C>A:T transitions, a high frequency of K-ras mutations, and low level microsatellite instability (MSI low). However, some have suggested that MGMT changes are background or secondary events, with little importance for tumorigenesis.
Methods: We have analysed fresh frozen colorectal cancers and colorectal cancer cell lines for MGMT changes: mutations, allelic loss, and protein expression.
Results: Six of 113 cancers harboured somatic missense MGMT mutations, at least three of which probably caused reduced MGMT function and were accompanied by silencing or loss of the wild-type allele. Cancers with pathogenic MGMT mutations tended to harbour G:C>A:T somatic mutations at other loci. Overall, MGMT expression was reduced or lost in more than half of the cancers. We found no association between MGMT expression and the somatic mutation spectrum at APC, beta-catenin, K-ras, or p53, but decreased MGMT expression was weakly associated with the presence of a G:C>A:T change at any one of these loci. Reduced MGMT expression was not however associated with an increased frequency of K-ras mutations or with MSI low.
Conclusion: In summary, we found that mutation of MGMT contributes to decreased protein function. Our findings provide good evidence to show that MGMT changes, including methylation, are selected rather than background events, at least in some cases. Decreased MGMT expression or function probably has a weak or moderate effect on the mutation spectrum in colorectal cancers.
O6-methylguanine methyltransferase; colorectal cancer; G>A transitions; MGMT; methylation; mutation
We analyzed prospectively whether MGMT (O6-methylguanine-DNA
methyltransferase) mRNA expression gains prognostic/predictive impact
independent of MGMT promoter methylation in malignant
glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant
temozolomide or temozolomide alone. As DNA-methyltransferases (DNMTs) are
the enzymes responsible for setting up and maintaining DNA methylation
patterns in eukaryotic cells, we analyzed further, whether
MGMT promoter methylation is associated with
upregulation of DNMT expression.
Adult patients with a histologically proven malignant astrocytoma
(glioblastoma: N = 53, anaplastic astrocytoma:
N = 10) were included. MGMT promoter
methylation was determined by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and sequencing
analysis. Expression of MGMT and DNMTs mRNA were analysed by real-time qPCR.
Prognostic factors were obtained from proportional hazards models.
Correlation between MGMT mRNA expression and MGMT
methylation status was validated using data from the Cancer Genome Atlas
(TCGA) database (N = 229 glioblastomas). Low MGMT mRNA
expression was strongly predictive for prolonged time to progression,
treatment response, and length of survival in univariate and multivariate
models (p<0.0001); the degree of MGMT mRNA expression was highly
correlated with the MGMT promoter methylation status
(p<0.0001); however, discordant findings were seen in 12 glioblastoma
patients: Patients with methylated tumors with high MGMT mRNA expression
(N = 6) did significantly worse than those with low
transcriptional activity (p<0.01). Conversely, unmethylated tumors with
low MGMT mRNA expression (N = 6) did better than their
counterparts. A nearly identical frequency of concordant and discordant
findings was obtained by analyzing the TCGA database (p<0.0001).
Expression of DNMT1 and DNMT3b was strongly upregulated in tumor tissue, but
not correlated with MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT mRNA
MGMT mRNA expression plays a direct role for mediating tumor sensitivity to
alkylating agents. Discordant findings indicate methylation-independent
pathways of MGMT expression regulation. DNMT1 and DNMT3b are likely to be
involved in CGI methylation. However, their exact role yet has to be
The tumor selectivity of alkylating agents that produce guanine O6-chloroethyl (laromustine and carmustine) and O6-methyl (temozolomide) lesions, depends upon O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) activity being lower in tumor than in host tissue. Despite the established role of MGMT as a tumor resistance factor, consensus on how to assess MGMT expression in clinical samples is unsettled. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between the values derived from distinctive MGMT measurements in 13, 12, 6 and 2 pairs of human tumors and matched normal adjacent tissue from the colon, kidney, lung and liver, respectively, and in human cell lines. The MGMT measurements included (a) alkyl-transfer assays using [benzene-3H]O6-benzylguanine as a substrate to assess functional MGMT activity, (b) methylation-specific PCR (MSP) to probe MGMT gene promoter CpG methylations as a measure of gene silencing, and (c) western immunoblots to analyze the MGMT protein. In human cell lines, a strict negative correlation existed between MGMT activity and the extent of promoter methylation. In tissue specimens, by contrast, the correlation between these two variables was low. Moreover, alkyl-transfer assays identified 3 pairs of tumors and normal tissue with tumor-selective reduction in MGMT activity in the absence of promoter methylation. Cell line MGMT migrated as a single band in western analyses, whereas tissue MGMT was heterogeneous around its molecular size and at much higher molecular masses, indicative of multi-layered post-translational modifications. Malignancy is occasionally associated with a mobility shift in MGMT. Contrary to the prevalent expectation that MGMT expression is governed at the level of gene silencing, these data suggest that other mechanisms that can lead to tumor-selective reduction in MGMT activity exist in human tissue.
O6-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase (MGMT, O6-Alkylguanine-DNA Alkyltransferase, AGT); [Benzene-3H]O6-Benzylguanine; Methylation-Specific PCR (MSP); Laromustine (Onrigin, Cloretazine, VNP40101M, 101M); Temozolomide
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and lethal of all gliomas. The current standard of care includes surgery followed by concomitant radiation and chemotherapy with the DNA alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ). O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) repairs the most cytotoxic of lesions generated by TMZ, O6-methylguanine. Methylation of the MGMT promoter in GBM correlates with increased therapeutic sensitivity to alkylating agent therapy. However, several aspects of TMZ sensitivity are not explained by MGMT promoter methylation. Here, we investigated our hypothesis that the base excision repair enzyme alkylpurine–DNA–N-glycosylase (APNG), which repairs the cytotoxic lesions N3-methyladenine and N7-methylguanine, may contribute to TMZ resistance. Silencing of APNG in established and primary TMZ-resistant GBM cell lines endogenously expressing MGMT and APNG attenuated repair of TMZ-induced DNA damage and enhanced apoptosis. Reintroducing expression of APNG in TMZ-sensitive GBM lines conferred resistance to TMZ in vitro and in orthotopic xenograft mouse models. In addition, resistance was enhanced with coexpression of MGMT. Evaluation of APNG protein levels in several clinical datasets demonstrated that in patients, high nuclear APNG expression correlated with poorer overall survival compared with patients lacking APNG expression. Loss of APNG expression in a subset of patients was also associated with increased APNG promoter methylation. Collectively, our data demonstrate that APNG contributes to TMZ resistance in GBM and may be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The tumor suppressor genes MGMT and DAPK1 become methylated in several cancers including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). However, allelic methylation patterns have not been investigated in DLBCL. We developed a fast and cost-efficient method for the analysis of allelic methylation based on pyrosequencing of methylation specific PCR (MSP) products including a SNP. Allelic methylation patterns were reliably analyzed in standards of known allelic methylation status even when diluted in unmethylated DNA to below 1% methylation. When studying 148 DLBCL patients MGMT and DAPK1 methylation was observed in 19% and 89%, respectively, and among methylated and heterozygous patients 29% and 55%, respectively, were biallelically methylated. An association between the T-allele of the rs16906252 SNP and MGMT methylation was observed (p-value = 0.04), and DAPK1 methylation of the A-allele was associated with shorter overall survival (p-value = 0.006). In future cancer research allelic MSP-pyrosequencing may be used to study a wide range of other loci.
CpG methylation within the O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter is associated with enhanced survival of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients treated with temozolomide (TMZ). Although MGMT promoter is methylated in ~50% of GBM, several studies have reported a lack of correlation between MGMT methylation and protein expression levels and consequently inaccurate discrimination of TMZ sensitive and resistant patients. To understand the limitations of currently used assays, TMZ responsiveness of 13 GBM xenograft lines was correlated with MGMT protein expression and MGMT promoter methylation determined by 1) standard methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MS-PCR), 2) quantitative MS-PCR (qMS-PCR) and 3) bisulfite sequencing. For each xenograft line, mice with established intracranial xenografts were treated with vehicle control or TMZ (66 mg/kg × 5 days), and TMZ response was defined as relative prolongation in median survival for TMZ-treated vs. control-treated mice. The relative survival benefit with TMZ was inversely related to MGMT protein expression (r= −0.75; p=0.003) and directly correlated with qMS-PCR (r=0.72; p=0.006). There was a direct correlation between MGMT methylation signal by qMS-PCR and the number of methylated CpG sites within the region amplified by MS-PCR (r =0.78, p=0.002). However, bisulfite sequencing revealed heterogeneity in the extent of CpG methylation in those tumors with a robust qMS-PCR signal. Three of the 4 GBM lines with a qMS-PCR signal greater than 10% had at least 1 unmethylated CpG site, while only one line was fully methylated at all 12 CpG sites. These data highlight one potential limitation of the evaluation of MGMT methylation by MS-PCR assay and suggest that more detailed evaluation of methylation at individual CpG sites relative to TMZ response may be worth pursuing.
MGMT; methylation; Glioblastoma; orthotopic xenografts
O6 –methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) acts to repair DNA damaged by alkylation of guanine residues. MGMT promoter methylation and gene silencing is seen in a variety of cancers and pre-cancerous changes [1-3]. The loss of MGMT activity and promoter methylation is associated with increased sensitivity to alkylating agents and is a favorable prognostic indicator in gliomas [4-6]. We sought to determine if MGMT promoter methylation plays a role in endometrial cancer.
One hundred and twenty primary endometrial cancers were analyzed for MGMT promoter methylation by combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA). The cohort included 77 endometrioid endometrial cancers, 43 endometrial tumors of adverse histologic type, and 6 endometrial cancer cell lines. Twenty-one endometrioid and mixed endometrioid ovarian cancers were also analyzed. A subset of the primary tumors was analyzed for MGMT expression by immunohistochemistry.
No MGMT promoter methylation was seen in the 120 endometrial cancers evaluated or the 6 endometrial cancer cell lines. One of the 21 endometrioid ovarian cancers showed methylation. Immunohistochemistry revealed moderate to high level expression of MGMT in the primary endometrial tumors.
MGMT promoter methylation is an infrequent event in endometrial cancer. MGMT expression and the ability to repair damaged alkylguanine residues could in part explain the limited response of endometrial tumors to alkylating chemotherapy.
MGMT; endometrial neoplasms; methylation
O6-Methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is implicated as a major predictive factor for treatment response to alkylating agents including temozolomide (TMZ) of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients. However, whether the MGMT status in GBM patients should be detected at the level of promoter methylation or protein expression is still a matter of debate. Here, we compared promoter methylation (by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction) and protein expression (by Western blot) in tumor cell explants with respect to prediction of TMZ response and survival of GBM patients (n = 71). Methylated MGMT gene promoter sequences were detected in 47 of 71 (66%) cases, whereas 37 of 71 (52%) samples were scored positive for MGMT protein expression. Although overall promoter methylation correlated significantly with protein expression (χ2 test, P < .001), a small subgroup of samples did not follow this association. In the multivariate Cox regression model, a significant interaction between MGMT protein expression, but not promoter methylation, and TMZ therapy was observed (test for interaction, P = .015). In patients treated with TMZ (n = 42), MGMT protein expression predicted a significantly shorter overall survival (OS; hazard ratio [HR] for death 5.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.76–17.37; P = .003), whereas in patients without TMZ therapy (n = 29), no differences in OS were observed (HR for death 1.00, 95% CI 0.45–2.20; P = .99). These data suggest that lack of MGMT protein expression is superior to promoter methylation as a predictive marker for TMZ response in GBM patients.
O6-Methylguanine DNA methyltransferase; glioblastoma multiforme; protein expression; temozolomide
The DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) can cause resistance to the alkylating drug temozolomide (TMZ). The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between the MGMT status, determined by means of several techniques and methods, and the cytotoxic response to TMZ in 11 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cell lines and 5 human tumour cell lines of other origins.
Cell survival was analysed by clonogenic assay. The MGMT protein levels were assessed by western blot analysis. The MGMT promoter methylation levels were determined using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) and quantitative real-time methylation-specific PCR (qMSP). On the basis of the results of these techniques, six GBM cell lines were selected and subjected to bisulphite sequencing.
The MGMT protein was detected in all TMZ-resistant cell lines, whereas no MGMT protein could be detected in cell lines that were TMZ sensitive. The MS-MLPA results were able to predict TMZ sensitivity in 9 out of 16 cell lines (56%). The qMSP results matched well with TMZ sensitivity in 11 out of 12 (92%) glioma cell lines. In addition, methylation as detected by bisulphite sequencing seemed to be predictive of TMZ sensitivity in all six cell lines analysed (100%).
The MGMT protein expression more than MGMT promoter methylation status predicts the response to TMZ in human tumour cell lines.
MGMT; temozolomide; glioma; prediction
The O6-methylguanine-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation status is a predictive parameter for the response of malignant gliomas to alkylating agents such as temozolomide. First clinical reports on treating brain metastases with temozolomide describe varying effects. This may be due to the fact that MGMT promoter methylation of brain metastases has not yet been explored in depth. Therefore, we assessed MGMT promoter methylation of various brain metastases including those derived from lung (n = 91), breast (n = 72) kidney (n = 49) and from malignant melanomas (n = 113) by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MS-PCR) and MGMT immunoreactivity. Fifty-nine of 199 brain metastases (29.6%) revealed a methylated MGMT promoter. The methylation rate was the highest in brain metastases derived from lung carcinomas (46.5%) followed by those from breast carcinoma (28.8%), malignant melanoma (24.7%) and from renal carcinoma (20%). A significant correlation of homogeneous MGMT-immunoreactivity (>95% MGMT positive tumor cells) and an unmethylated MGMT promoter was found. Promoter methylation was detected in 26 of 61 (43%) tumors lacking MGMT immunoreactivity, in 17 of 63 (27%) metastases with heterogeneous MGMT expression, but only in 5 of 54 brain metastases (9%) showing a homogeneous MGMT immunoreactivity. Our results demonstrate that a significant number of brain metastases reveal a methylated MGMT-promoter. Based on an obvious correlation between homogeneous MGMT immunoreactivity and unmethylated MGMT promoter, we hypothesize that immunohistochemistry for MGMT may be a helpful diagnostic tool to identify those tumors that probably will not benefit from the use of alkylating agents. The discrepancy between promoter methylation and a lack of MGMT immunoreactivity argues for assessing MGMT promoter methylation both by immunohistochemical as well as by molecular approaches for diagnostic purposes.
O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene promoter hypermethylation is observed in a number of solid tumors and is correlated with the silencing of MGMT expression. In glioblastoma patients treated with the alkylating agent temozolomide, MGMT gene methylation status was shown to have predictive value in terms of prolonged overall survival. Recently, temozolomide has demonstrated promising activity in the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas, including those of the uterus. The tissue specimens involving tumor samples and normal uterine fragments were obtained from nine patients with smooth muscle uterine sarcoma, 11 with stromal uterine sarcoma and 17 with mixed uterine tumors. MGMT gene promoter methylation was analyzed by combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) while its expression levels were assessed using the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). MGMT promoter methylation was observed in 27% of all tumor samples analyzed. When stratified by the disease type, 55.5% (5/9) of smooth muscle sarcomas, 23.5% (4/17) of mixed uterine tumor tissues and 9% (1/11) of stromal sarcomas showed MGMT methylation. The MGMT promoter methylation was associated with lower levels of gene expression in tumors when compared with those with an unmethylated promoter (P=0.0232) or normal tissues (P=0.0141). To conclude, MGMT promoter methylation and downregulation of gene expression is observed in a fraction of carcinosarcomas and non-epithelial malignant tumors of corpus uteri. The assessment of MGMT promoter methylation status may potentially identify patients who would benefit from temozolomide treatment.
uterine sarcoma; carcinosarcoma; O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase; gene expression; gene methylation
O6-Methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) repairs the mutagenic and cytotoxic O6-alkylguanine lesions produced by environmental carcinogens and the chemotherapeutic nitrosoureas. As such, MGMT-mediated repair of O6-alkylguanine lesions constitutes a major form of resistance to nitrosourea chemotherapy and makes control of MGMT expression of clinical interest. The variability of expression in cell lines and tissues, along with the ease with which the MGMT phenotype reverts under various conditions, suggests that MGMT is under epigenetic control. One such epigenetic mechanism, 5-methylation of cytosines, has been linked to MGMT expression. We have used an isogenic human multiple myeloma tumor cell line model composed of an MGMT-positive parent cell line, RPMI 8226/S, and its MGMT-negative variant, termed 8226/V, to study the control of MGMT expression. The loss of MGMT activity in 8226/V was found to be due to the loss of detectable MGMT gene expression. Bisulfite sequencing of the MGMT CpG island promoter revealed large increases in the levels of CpG methylation within discrete regions of the 8226/V MGMT CpG island compared to those in 8226/S. These changes in CpG methylation are associated with local heterochromatinization of the 8226/V MGMT transcription start site and provide a likely mechanism for the loss of MGMT transcription in 8226/V.
O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is a DNA repair enzyme with the ability to protect cells from DNA mutations by removing alkyl groups from the O6 position of guanine. Colon mucosa is exposed to the direct effects of environmental carcinogens and therefore maintaining a proficient DNA repair system is very important to stay protected against DNA mutagenesis. Loss of MGMT expression is almost exclusively associated with methylation of CpG islands in the MGMT gene promoter region which is found in approximately 40% of colorectal cancers. The role of MGMT loss in colorectal tumorigenesis is complex but numerous studies have documented methylation of this gene even in the normal appearing mucosa as well as in aberrant crypt foci, suggesting that MGMT methylation can be regarded as an early event or “field defect” in colon cancer neoplasia. The focus of this perspective is the role of MGMT in different pathways of colorectal carcinogenesis as well as the implication of this molecule in treatment decisions in colorectal cancer patients.
MGMT; MSI-H; MSS; MSI-low; CIMP; methylation; DNA repair
1) To correlate the methylation status of the O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter to its gene and protein expression levels in glioblastoma and 2) to determine the most reliable method for using MGMT to predict the response to adjuvant therapy in patients with glioblastoma.
The MGMT gene is epigenetically silenced by promoter hypermethylation in gliomas, and this modification has emerged as a relevant predictor of therapeutic response.
Fifty-one cases of glioblastoma were analyzed for MGMT promoter methylation by methylation-specific PCR and pyrosequencing, gene expression by real time polymerase chain reaction, and protein expression by immunohistochemistry.
MGMT promoter methylation was found in 43.1% of glioblastoma by methylation-specific PCR and 38.8% by pyrosequencing. A low level of MGMT gene expression was correlated with positive MGMT promoter methylation (p = 0.001). However, no correlation was found between promoter methylation and MGMT protein expression (p = 0.297). The mean survival time of glioblastoma patients submitted to adjuvant therapy was significantly higher among patients with MGMT promoter methylation (log rank = 0.025 by methylation-specific PCR and 0.004 by pyrosequencing), and methylation was an independent predictive factor that was associated with improved prognosis by multivariate analysis.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION:
MGMT promoter methylation status was a more reliable predictor of susceptibility to adjuvant therapy and prognosis of glioblastoma than were MGMT protein or gene expression levels. Methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction and pyrosequencing methods were both sensitive methods for determining MGMT promoter methylation status using DNA extracted from frozen tissue.
Glioblastoma; MGMT promoter methylation; MGMT gene; MGMT protein; Prognosis
The methylation status of the O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene is an important predictive biomarker for benefit from alkylating agent therapy in glioblastoma. Recent studies in anaplastic glioma suggest a prognostic value for MGMT methylation. Investigation of pathogenetic and epigenetic features of this intriguingly distinct behavior requires accurate MGMT classification to assess high throughput molecular databases. Promoter methylation-mediated gene silencing is strongly dependent on the location of the methylated CpGs, complicating classification. Using the HumanMethylation450 (HM-450K) BeadChip interrogating 176 CpGs annotated for the MGMT gene, with 14 located in the promoter, two distinct regions in the CpG island of the promoter were identified with high importance for gene silencing and outcome prediction. A logistic regression model (MGMT-STP27) comprising probes cg1243587 and cg12981137 provided good classification properties and prognostic value (kappa = 0.85; log-rank p < 0.001) using a training-set of 63 glioblastomas from homogenously treated patients, for whom MGMT methylation was previously shown to be predictive for outcome based on classification by methylation-specific PCR. MGMT-STP27 was successfully validated in an independent cohort of chemo-radiotherapy-treated glioblastoma patients (n = 50; kappa = 0.88; outcome, log-rank p < 0.001). Lower prevalence of MGMT methylation among CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) positive tumors was found in glioblastomas from The Cancer Genome Atlas than in low grade and anaplastic glioma cohorts, while in CIMP-negative gliomas MGMT was classified as methylated in approximately 50 % regardless of tumor grade. The proposed MGMT-STP27 prediction model allows mining of datasets derived on the HM-450K or HM-27K BeadChip to explore effects of distinct epigenetic context of MGMT methylation suspected to modulate treatment resistance in different tumor types.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-1016-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
MGMT; DNA methylation; MSP; Infinium methylation platform; Prediction model
Tumours are responsive to temozolomide (TMZ) if they are deficient in O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), and mismatch repair (MMR) proficient.
The effect of TMZ on medulloblastoma (MB) cell killing was analysed with clonogenic survival assays. Expression of DNA repair genes and enzymes was investigated using microarrays, western blot, and immunohistochemistry. DNA sequencing and promoter methylation analysis were employed to investigate the cause of loss of the expression of MMR gene MLH1.
Temozolomide exhibited potent cytotoxic activity in D425Med (MGMT deficient, MLH1 proficient; IC50=1.7 μℳ), moderate activity against D341Med (MGMT proficient, MLH1 deficient), and DAOY MB cells (MGMT proficient, MLH1 proficient). MGMT inhibitor O6-benzylguanine sensitised DAOY, but not D341Med cells to TMZ. Of 12 MB cell lines, D341Med, D283Med, and 1580WÜ cells exhibited MMR deficiency due to MLH1 promoter hypermethylation. DNA sequencing of these cells provided no evidence for somatic genetic alterations in MLH1. Expression analyses of MMR and MGMT in MB revealed that all patient specimens (n=74; expression array, n=61; immunostaining, n=13) are most likely MMR proficient, whereas some tumours had low MGMT expression levels (according to expression array) or were totally MGMT deficient (3 out of 13 according to immunohistochemistry).
A subset of MB may respond to TMZ as some patient specimens are MGMT deficient, and tumours appear to be MMR proficient.
medulloblastoma; temozolomide; drug resistance; mismatch repair
Epigenetic silencing of the MGMT gene by promoter methylation is associated with loss of MGMT expression, diminished DNA-repair activity and longer overall survival in patients with glioblastoma who, in addition to radiotherapy, received alkylating chemotherapy with carmustine or temozolomide. We describe and validate a rapid methylation sensitive quantitative PCR assay (MS-qLNAPCR) using Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) modified primers and an imprinted gene as a reference.
An analysis was made of a database of 159 GBM patients followed between April 2004 and October 2008. After bisulfite treatment, methylated and unmethylated CpGs were recognized by LNA primers and molecular beacon probes. The SNURF promoter of an imprinted gene mapped on 15q12, was used as a reference. This approach was used because imprinted genes have a balanced copy number of methylated and unmethylated alleles, and this feature allows an easy and a precise normalization.
Concordance between already described nested MS-PCR and MS-qLNAPCR was found in 158 of 159 samples (99.4%). The MS-qLNAPCR assay showed a PCR efficiency of 102% and a sensitivity of 0.01% for LNA modified primers, while unmodified primers revealed lower efficiency (69%) and lower sensitivity (0.1%). MGMT promoter was found to be methylated using MS-qLNAPCR in 70 patients (44.02%), and completely unmethylated in 89 samples (55.97%). Median overall survival was of 24 months, being 20 months and 36 months, in patients with MGMT unmethylated and methylated, respectively. Considering MGMT methylation data provided by MS-qLNAPCR as a binary variable, overall survival was different between patients with GBM samples harboring MGMT promoter unmethylated and other patients with any percentage of MGMT methylation (p = 0.003). This difference was retained using other cut off values for MGMT methylation rate (i.e. 10% and 20% of methylated allele), while the difference was lost when 50% of MGMT methylated allele was used as cut-off.
We report and clinically validate an accurate, robust, and cost effective MS-qLNAPCR protocol for the detection and quantification of methylated MGMT alleles in GBM samples. Using MS-qLNAPCR we demonstrate that even low levels of MGMT promoter methylation have to be taken into account to predict response to temozolomide-chemotherapy.
Gliomas are the most frequent adult primary brain tumor, and are invariably fatal. The most common diagnosis glioblastoma (GBM) afflicts 12,500 new patents in the U.S. annually, and has a median survival of approximately one year when treated with the current standard of care. Alkylating agents have long been central in the chemotherapy of GBM and other gliomas. The DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), the principal human activity that removes cytotoxic O6-alkylguanine adducts from DNA, promotes resistance to anti-glioma alkylators, including temozolomide and BCNU, in GBM cell lines and xenografts. Moreover, MGMT expression assessed by immunohistochemistry, biochemical activity or promoter CpG methylation status is associated with the response of GBM to alkylator-based therapies, providing evidence that MGMT promotes clinical resistance to alkylating agents. These observations suggest a role for MGMT in directing adjuvant therapy of GBM and other gliomas. Promoter methylation status is the most clinically tractable measure of MGMT, and there is considerable enthusiasm for exploring its utility as a marker to assign therapy to individual patients. Here, we provide an overview of the biochemical, genetic and biological characteristics of MGMT as they relate to glioma therapy. We consider current methods to assess MGMT expression and discuss their utility as predictors of treatment response. Particular emphasis is given to promoter methylation status and the methodological and conceptual impediments that limit its use to direct treatment. We conclude by considering approaches that may improve the utility of MGMT methylation status in planning optimal therapies tailored to individual patients.
alkylating agents; biomarker; glioblastoma; glioma; MGMT; chemotherapy resistance
O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is one of most important DNA repair enzyme against common carcinogens such as alkylate and tobacco. Aberrant promoter methylation of the gene is frequently observed in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the importance of epigenetic inactivation of the gene in NSCLC published in the literature showed inconsistence. We quantified the association between MGMT promoter methylation and NSCLC using a meta-analysis method.
We systematically reviewed studies of MGMT promoter methylation and NSCLC in PubMed, EMBASE, Ovid, ISI Web of Science, Elsevier and CNKI databases and quantified the association between MGMT promoter methylation and NSCLC using meta-analysis method. Odds ratio (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated to evaluate the strength of association. Potential sources of heterogeneity were assessed by subgroup analysis and meta-regression.
A total of 18 studies from 2001 to 2011, with 1, 160 tumor tissues and 970 controls, were involved in the meta-analysis. The frequencies of MGMT promote methylation ranged from 1.5% to 70.0% (median, 26.1%) in NSCLC tissue and 0.0% to 55.0% (median, 2.4%) in non-cancerous control, respectively. The summary of OR was 4.43 (95% CI: 2.85, 6.89) in the random-effects model. With stratification by potential source of heterogeneity, the OR was 20.45 (95% CI: 5.83, 71.73) in heterogeneous control subgroup, while it was 4.16 (95% CI: 3.02, 5.72) in the autologous control subgroup. The OR was 5.31 (95% CI: 3.00, 9.41) in MSP subgroup and 3.06 (95% CI: 1.75, 5.33) in Q-MSP subgroup.
This meta-analysis identified a strong association between methylation of MGMT gene and NSCLC. Prospective studies should be required to confirm the results in the future.
O6-methylguanine DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation has been identified as a potential prognostic marker for glioblastoma patients. The relationship between the exact site of promoter methylation and its effect on gene silencing, and the patient's subsequent response to therapy, is still being defined. The aim of this study was to comprehensively characterize cytosine-guanine (CpG) dinucleotide methylation across the entire MGMT promoter and to correlate individual CpG site methylation patterns to mRNA expression, protein expression, and progression-free survival. To best identify the specific MGMT promoter region most predictive of gene silencing and response to therapy, we determined the methylation status of all 97 CpG sites in the MGMT promoter in tumor samples from 70 GBM patients using quantitative bisulfite sequencing. We next identified the CpG site specific and regional methylation patterns most predictive of gene silencing and improved progression-free survival. Using this data, we propose a new classification scheme utilizing methylation data from across the entire promoter and show that an analysis based on this approach, which we call 3R classification, is predictive of progression-free survival (HR = 5.23, 95% CI [2.089–13.097], p<0.0001). To adapt this approach to the clinical setting, we used a methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) test based on the 3R classification and show that this test is both feasible in the clinical setting and predictive of progression free survival (HR = 3.076, 95% CI [1.301–7.27], p = 0.007). We discuss the potential advantages of a test based on this promoter-wide analysis and compare it to the commonly used methylation-specific PCR test. Further prospective validation of these two methods in a large independent patient cohort will be needed to confirm the added value of promoter wide analysis of MGMT methylation in the clinical setting.
MGMT downregulation in high-grade gliomas (HGG) has been mostly attributed to aberrant promoter methylation and is associated with increased sensitivity to alkylating agent-based chemotherapy. However, HGG harboring 10q deletions also benefit from treatment with alkylating agents. Because the MGMT gene is mapped at 10q26, we hypothesized that both epigenetic and genetic alterations might affect its expression and predict response to chemotherapy. To test this hypothesis, promoter methylation and mRNA levels of MGMT were determined by quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP) or methylation-specific multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) and quantitative RT-PCR, respectively, in a retrospective series of 61 HGG. MGMT/chromosome 10 copy number variations were determined by FISH or MS-MLPA analysis. Molecular findings were correlated with clinical parameters to assess their predictive value. Overall, MGMT methylation ratios assessed by qMSP and MS-MLPA were inversely correlated with mRNA expression levels (best coefficient value obtained with MS-MLPA). By FISH analysis in 68.3% of the cases there was loss of 10q26.1 and in 15% of the cases polysomy was demonstrated; the latter displayed the highest levels of transcript. When genetic and epigenetic data were combined, cases with MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT loss depicted the lowest transcript levels, although an impact in response to alkylating agent chemotherapy was not apparent. Cooperation between epigenetic (promoter methylation) and genetic (monosomy, locus deletion) changes affecting MGMT in HGG is required for effective MGMT silencing. Hence, evaluation of copy number alterations might add relevant prognostic and predictive information concerning response to alkylating agent-based chemotherapy.
The CD133 antigen is a marker of radio- and chemo-resistant stem cell populations in glioblastoma (GBM). The O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) enzyme is related with temozolomide (TMZ) resistance. Our propose is to analyze the prognostic significance of the CD133 antigen and promoter methylation and protein expression of MGMT in a homogenous group of GBM patients uniformly treated with radiotherapy and TMZ. The possible connection between these GBM markers was also investigated.
Seventy-eight patients with GBM treated with radiotherapy combined with concomitant and adjuvant TMZ were analyzed for MGMT and CD133. MGMT gene promoter methylation was determined by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction after bisulfite treatment. MGMT and CD133 expression was assessed immunohistochemically using an automatic quantification system. Overall and progression-free survival was calculated according to the Kaplan–Meier method.
The MGMT gene promoter was found to be methylated in 34 patients (44.7%) and unmethylated in 42 patients (55.3%). A significant correlation was observed between MGMT promoter methylation and patients’ survival. Among the unmethylated tumors, 52.4% showed low expression of MGMT and 47.6% showed high-expression. Among methylated tumors, 58.8% showed low-expression of MGMT and 41.2% showed high-expression. No correlation was found between MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT expression, or MGMT expression and survival. In contrast with recent results, CD133 expression was not a predictive marker in GBM patients. Analyses of possible correlation between CD133 expression and MGMT protein expression or MGMT promoter methylation were negative.
Our results support the hypothesis that MGMT promoter methylation status but not MGMT expression may be a predictive biomarker in the treatment of patients with GBM. In addition, CD133 should not be used for prognostic evaluation of these patients. Future studies will be necessary to determine its clinical utility.
Glioblastoma; Radiotherapy; Temozolomide; MGMT; Methylation; CD133