The PTEN gene is often mutated in primary human tumors and cell lines, but the low rate of somatic PTEN mutation in human breast cancer has led to debate over the role of this tumor suppressor in this disease. The involvement of PTEN in human mammary oncogenesis has been implicated from studies showing that germline PTEN mutation in Cowden disease predisposes to breast cancer, the frequent loss of heterozygosity at the PTEN locus, and reduced PTEN protein levels in sporadic breast cancers. To assay the potential contribution of PTEN loss in breast tumor promotion, Li et al.  crossed Pten heterozygous mice with mouse mammary tumor virus-Wnt-1 transgenic (Wnt-1 TG, Pten+/-) mice. Mammary ductal carcinoma developed earlier in Wnt-1 TG, Pten+/- mice than in mice bearing either genetic change alone, and showed frequent loss of the remaining wild-type PTEN allele. These data indicate a role for PTEN in breast tumorigenesis in an in vivo model.
mammary carcinogenesis; PKB/Akt; PTEN; Wnt-1
The human tumour suppressor gene PTEN located at 10q23 is mutated in a variety of tumour types particularly metastatic cases and in the germline of some individuals with Cowdens cancer predisposition syndrome. We have assessed the status of PTEN and associated pathways in cell lines derived from 19 squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Loss of heterozygosity is evident at, or close to the PTEN gene in 5 cases, however there were no mutations in the remaining alleles. Furthermore by Western analysis PTEN protein levels are normal in all of these SCC-HN tumours and cell lines. To assess the possibility that PTEN may be inactivated by another mechanism, we characterized lipid phosphatase levels and from a specific PIP3 biochemical assay it is clear that PTEN is functionally active in all 19 human SCCs. Our data strongly suggest the possibility that a tumour suppressor gene associated with development of SCC-HN, other than PTEN, is located in this chromosomal region. This gene does not appear to be MXI-1, which has been implicated in some other human tumour types. PTEN is an important negative regulator of PI3Kinase, of which subunit alpha is frequently amplified in SCC-HN. To examine the possibility that PI3K is upregulated by amplification in this tumour set we assessed the phosphorylation status of Akt, a downstream target of PI3K. In all cases there is no detectable increase in Akt phosphorylation. Therefore there is no detectable defect in the PI3K pathway in SCC-HN suggesting that the reason for 3q26.3 over-representation may be due to genes other than PI3K110α. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com
PTEN; LOH; carcinoma; P13K
Hypermethylation of CpG islands is a common epigenetic alteration associated with cancer. Global patterns of hypermethylation are tumor-type specific and nonrandom. The biological significance and the underlying mechanisms of tumor-specific aberrant promoter methylation remain unclear, but some evidence suggests that this specificity involves differential sequence susceptibilities, the targeting of DNA methylation activity to specific promoter sequences, or the selection of rare DNA methylation events during disease progression. Using restriction landmark genomic scanning on samples derived from tissue culture and in vivo models of T cell lymphomas, we found that MYC overexpression gave rise to a specific signature of CpG island hypermethylation. This signature reflected gene transcription profiles and was detected only in advanced stages of disease. The further inactivation of the Pten, p53, and E2f2 tumor suppressors in MYC-induced lymphomas resulted in distinct and diagnostic CpG island methylation signatures. Our data suggest that tumor-specific DNA methylation in lymphomas arises as a result of the selection of rare DNA methylation events during the course of tumor development. This selection appears to be driven by the genetic configuration of tumor cells, providing experimental evidence for a causal role of DNA hypermethylation in tumor progression and an explanation for the tremendous epigenetic heterogeneity observed in the evolution of human cancers. The ability to predict genome-wide epigenetic silencing based on relatively few genetic alterations will allow for a more complete classification of tumors and understanding of tumor cell biology.
Genetic and epigenetic alterations of the genome are common features of cancers. The relationship between these two types of alterations, however, remains unclear. One type of epigenetic modification—DNA methylation in promoter sequences of genes—is of particular interest, since tumor cells have different patterns of promoter methylation than normal cells. Previous studies on human tumor samples have suggested a link between genetic alterations and the induction of aberrant DNA methylation; however, this link has been difficult to rigorously assess because of the incredible genetic heterogeneity found in human cancer. In this study, a mouse model of T cell lymphoma was used to explore the relationship between genetic and epigenetic modifications experienced by tumor cells. By introducing defined genetic changes into preneoplastic T cells of mice, such as the overexpression of the MYC oncogene and the ablation of tumor suppressor genes, we could carefully evaluate how these genetic changes impacted promoter methylation profiles during development of lymphomas in vivo. We found that the introduction of different genetic insults resulted in unique and diagnostic profiles of promoter methylation. Understanding how these methylation signatures contribute to tumor progression could eventually have diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic value for human cancers.
Aberrant DNA methylation of CpG islands of cancer-related genes is among the earliest and most frequent alterations in cancerogenesis and might be of value for either diagnosing cancer or evaluating recurrent disease. This mechanism usually leads to inactivation of tumour-suppressor genes. We have designed the current study to validate our previous microarray data and to identify novel hypermethylated gene promoters.
The validation assay was performed in a different set of 8 patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) by means quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis. The differential RNA expression profiles of three CRC cell lines before and after 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine treatment were compared to identify the hypermethylated genes. The DNA methylation status of these genes was evaluated by means of bisulphite genomic sequencing and methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) in the 3 cell lines and in tumour tissues from 30 patients with CRC.
Data from our previous genome search have received confirmation in the new set of 8 patients with CRC. In this validation set six genes showed a high induction after drug treatment in at least two of three CRC cell lines. Among them, the N-myc downstream-regulated gene 2 (NDRG2) promoter was found methylated in all CRC cell lines. NDRG2 hypermethylation was also detected in 8 out of 30 (27%) primary CRC tissues and was significantly associated with advanced AJCC stage IV. Normal colon tissues were not methylated.
The findings highlight the usefulness of combining gene expression patterns and epigenetic data to identify tumour biomarkers, and suggest that NDRG2 silencing might bear influence on tumour invasiveness, being associated with a more advanced stage.
The tumour suppressor gene PTEN plays an important somatic role in both hereditary and sporadic breast carcinogenesis. While the role of PTEN's lipid phosphatase activity, as a negative regulator of the cytoplasmic phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt pathway is well known, it is now well established that PTEN exists and functions in the nucleus. Multiple mechanisms of regulating PTEN's subcellular localization have been reported. However none are ubiquitous across multiple cancer cell lines and tissue types. We show here that adenosine triphosphate (ATP) regulates PTEN subcellular localization in a variety of different cancer cell lines, including those derived from breast, colon and thyroid carcinomas. Cells deficient in ATP show an increased level of nuclear PTEN protein. This increase in PTEN is reversed when cells are supplemented with ATP, ADP or AMP. In contrast, the addition of the non-hydrolyzable analogue ATPγS, did not reverse nuclear PTEN protein levels in all the cell types tested. To our knowledge, this is the first report that describes a regulation of PTEN subcellular localization that is not specific to one cell line or tissue type, but appears to be common across a variety of cell lineages.
We have determined the methylation status of the CpG island of the oestrogen receptor α gene in seven human ovarian cell lines. Cell lines expressing oestrogen receptor α showed no evidence of hypermethylation. In three of four cell lines that produced no detectable oestrogen receptor α protein, hypermethylation was observed at the NotI site of the CpG island. These results indicate that aberrant hypermethylation may be responsible for a significant proportion of epithelial ovarian tumours in which oestrogen receptor α expression is lost.
British Journal of Cancer (2002) 86, 282–284. DOI: 10.1038/sj/bjc/6600028 www.bjcancer.com
© 2002 The Cancer Research Campaign
oestrogen receptor; DNA methylation; ovarian cancer
We recently identified germline methylation of KILLIN, a novel p53-regulated tumor suppressor proximal to PTEN, in >1/3 Cowden or Cowden syndrome-like (CS/CSL) individuals who are PTEN mutation negative. Individuals with germline KILLIN methylation had increased risks of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) over those with PTEN mutations. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that KILLIN may be a RCC susceptibility gene, silenced by germline methylation. We found germline hypermethylation by combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) in at least one of the four CpG-rich regions in 23/41 (56%) RCC patients compared to 0/50 controls (P<0.0001). Of the 23, 11 (48%) demonstrated methylation in the -598bp to -890bp region in respect to the KILLIN transcription start site. Furthermore, 19 of 20 advanced RCC showed somatic hypermethylation upstream of KILLIN, with the majority hypermethylated at more than one CpG island (13/19 vs 3/23 with germline methylation, p<0.0001). qRT-PCR revealed that methylation significantly downregulates KILLIN expression (P=0.05), and demethylation treatment by 5-aza-2’deoxycytidine significantly increased KILLIN expression in all RCC cell lines while only increasing PTEN expression in one line. Furthermore, targeted in vitro methylation revealed a significant decrease in KILLIN promoter activity only. These data reveal differential epigenetic regulation by DNA promoter methylation of this bidirectional promoter. In summary, we have identified KILLIN as a potential novel cancer predisposition gene for nonsyndromic ccRCC, and the epigenetic mechanism of KILLIN inactivation in both the germline and somatic setting suggests the potential for treatment with demethylating agents.
Heritable kidney neoplasia; PTEN; KILLIN; DNA methylation
PTEN gene is considered one of the most mutated tumor suppressor genes in human cancer, and it's likely to become the first one in the near future. Since 1997, its involvement in tumor suppression has smoothly increased, up to the current importance. Germline mutations of PTEN cause the PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS), which include the past-called Cowden, Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba, Proteus, Proteus-like, and Lhermitte-Duclos syndromes. Somatic mutations of PTEN have been observed in glioblastoma, prostate cancer, and brest cancer cell lines, quoting only the first tissues where the involvement has been proven. The negative regulation of cell interactions with the extracellular matrix could be the way PTEN phosphatase acts as a tumor suppressor. PTEN gene plays an essential role in human development. A recent model sees PTEN function as a stepwise gradation, which can be impaired not only by heterozygous mutations and homozygous losses, but also by other molecular mechanisms, such as transcriptional regression, epigenetic silencing, regulation by microRNAs, posttranslational modification, and aberrant localization. The involvement of PTEN function in melanoma and multistage skin carcinogenesis, with its implication in cancer treatment, and the role of front office in diagnosing PHTS are the main reasons why the dermatologist should know about PTEN.
Promoter CpG island hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes is a common hallmark of all human cancers. Many researchers have been looking for potential epigenetic therapeutic targets in cancer using gene expression profiling with DNA microarray approaches. Our recent genome-wide platform of CpG island hypermethylation and gene expression in colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines revealed that FBN2 and TCERG1L gene silencing is associated with DNA hypermethylation of a CpG island in the promoter region. In this study, promoter DNA hypermethylation of FBN2 and TCERG1L in CRC occurs as an early and cancer-specific event in colorectal cancer. Both genes showed high frequency of methylation in colon cancer cell lines (>80% for both of genes), adenomas (77% for FBN2, 90% for TCERG1L, n=39), and carcinomas (86% for FBN2, 99% for TCERG1L,
n=124). Bisulfite sequencing confirmed cancer-specific methylation of FBN2 and TCERG1L of promoters in colon cancer cell line and cancers but not in normal colon. Methylation of FBN2 and TCERG1L is accompanied by downregulation in cell lines and in primary tumors as described in the Oncomine™ website. Together, our results suggest that gene silencing of FBN2 and TCERG1L is associated with promoter DNA hypermethylation in CRC tumors and may be excellent biomarkers for the early detection of CRC.
DNA hypermethylation; Biomarker; Early detection; Colorectal Cancer (CRC); FBN2; TCERGIL
RASSF2 is a recently identified member of a class of novel tumour suppressor genes, all containing a ras association domain. We previously demonstrated that the A isoform of RASSF2, is frequently inactivated by promoter region hypermethylation in colorectal tumours and adenomas, methylation was tumour specific and that expression in methylated tumour lines could be reactivated by treatment with 5-aza-2dc. RASSF2 resides at 20p13, this region has been demonstrated to be frequently lost in human cancers. In this report we investigated methylation status of the RASSF2A promoter CpG island in a series of breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). RASSF2A was frequently methylated in breast tumour cell lines 65% (13/20) and in primary breast tumours 38% (15/40). RASSF2A gene expression could be switched back on in methylated breast tumour cell lines after treatment with 5-aza-2dC, whilst unmethylated lines showed no difference in level of expression before and after 5-aza-2dC treatment. RASSF2A was also frequently methylated in NSCLC tumours 44% (22/50). Methylation in breast tumours and NSCLC was tumour specific. We did not detect RASSF2A methylation in ovarian tumours (0/17). Furthermore no mutations were found in the coding region of RASSF2A in these ovarian tumours.
RASSF2A suppressed breast tumour cell growth in vitro (through colony formation and soft agar assays) and in vivo. We identified a highly conserved putative bipartite nuclear localisation signal (NLS) between amino acids 151 and 167 in the RASSF2A sequence and demonstrated that endogenous RASSF2A localised to the nucleus. Mutation of the putative nuclear localisation signal abolished the nuclear localisation so RASSF2A became predominantly cytoplasmic. Our data indicates that RASSF2A is frequently methylated in colorectal, breast and NSCLC tumours, furthermore, the methylation is tumour specific. Hence we have identified RASSF2A as a novel methylation marker for multiple malignancies and it has the potential to be developed into a valuable marker for screening several cancers in parallel using promoter hypermethylation profiles.
We also demonstrate that RASSF2 has a functional NLS signal. Furthermore this is the first report demonstrating that RASSF2 suppresses growth of cancer cells in vivo. Hence providing further evidence for its role as a tumour suppressor gene located at 20p13.
Silencing of tumor-suppressor genes by hypermethylation of promoter CpG islands is well documented in human cancer and may be mediated by methyl-CpG-binding proteins, like MeCP2, that are associated in vivo with chromatin modifiers and transcriptional repressors. However, the exact dynamic between methylation and chromatin structure in the regulation of gene expression is not well understood. In this study, we have analyzed the methylation status and chromatin structure of three CpG islands in the p14(ARF)/p16(INK4A) locus in a series of normal and cancer cell lines using methylation-sensitive digestion, MspI accessibility in intact nuclei and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. We demonstrate the existence of an altered chromatin structure associated with the silencing of tumor-suppressor genes in human cancer cell lines involving CpG island methylation, chromatin condensation, histone deacetylation and MeCP2 binding. The data showed that MeCP2 could bind to methylated CpG islands in both promoters and exons; MeCP2 does not interfere with transcription when bound at an exon, suggesting a more generalized role for the protein beyond transcriptional repression. In the absence of methylation, it is demonstrated that CpG islands located in promoters versus exons display marked differences in the levels of acetylation of associated histone H3, suggesting that chromatin remodeling can be achieved by methylation-independent processes and perhaps explaining why non-promoter CpG islands are more susceptible to de novo methylation than promoter islands.
The chromosomal region 10q23-24 is frequently deleted in a number of tumour types, including prostate adenocarcinoma and glioma. A candidate tumour-suppressor gene at 10q23.3, designated PTENor MMAC1, with putative actin-binding and tyrosine phosphatase domains has recently been described. Mutations in PTEN have been identified in cell lines derived from gliomas, melanomas and prostate tumours and from a number of tumour specimens derived from glial, breast, endometrial and kidney tissue. Germline mutations in PTEN appear to be responsible for Cowden disease. We identified five PTEN mutations in 37 primary prostatic tumours analysed and found that 70% of tumours showed loss or alteration of at least one PTEN allele, supporting the evidence for PTEN involvement in prostate tumour progression. We raised antisera to a peptide from PTEN and showed that reactivity occurs in numerous small cytoplasmic organelles and that the protein is commonly expressed in a variety of cell types. Northern blot analysis revealed multiple RNA species; some arise as a result of alternative polyadenylation sites, but others may be due to alternative splicing.
Somatic and germline mutations in PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10) are found in sporadic cancers and Cowden syndrome patients, respectively. Recent identification of naturally occurring cancer and germline mutations within the ATP-binding motifs of PTEN (heretofore referred to as PTEN ATP-binding mutations) has revealed that these mutations disrupted the subcellular localization and tumor-suppressor activity of PTEN. However, very little is known about the underlying mechanisms of PTEN ATP-binding mutations in tumorigenesis. Here we show that these mutations impair PTEN's function both qualitatively and quantitatively. On the one hand, PTEN ATP-binding mutants lose their phosphatase activity and the effect of downregulation of cyclin D1. On the other, the mislocalized mutant PTEN results in a significantly decreased nuclear p53 protein level and transcriptional activity, enhanced production of reactive oxygen species, induction of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase as well as dramatically increased DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). When compared with wild-type PTEN, the ATP-binding mutant PTEN has reduced half-life in vitro and decreased protein expression levels in vivo. Our data, thus, reveal a novel mechanism of tumorigenesis in patients with germline or somatic mutations affecting PTEN ATP-binding motifs, i.e. qualitative and quantitative impairment of PTEN due to the loss of its phosphatase activity, and nuclear mislocalization, resulting in rapid PTEN protein degradation, suppression of p53-mediated transcriptional activity, loss of protection against oxidative stress as well as accumulation of spontaneous DNA DSBs.
DNA methylation is one of the main epigenetic mechanisms and hypermethylation of CpG islands at tumor suppressor genes switches off these genes. To find novel DNA methylation markers in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we performed pharmacological unmasking (treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine or trichostatin A) followed by microarray analysis in HCC cell lines. Of the 239 promoter CpG island loci hypermethylated in HCC cell lines (as revealed by methylation-specific PCR), 221 loci were found to be hypermethylated in HCC or nonneoplastic liver tissues. Thirty-three loci showed a 20% higher methylation frequency in tumors than in adjacent nonneoplastic tissues. Correlation of individual cancer-related methylation markers with clinicopathological features of HCC patients (n = 95) revealed that the number of hypermethylated genes in HCC tumors was higher in older than in younger patients. Univariate and multivariate survival analysis revealed that the HIST1H2AE methylation status is closely correlated with the patient's overall survival (P = 0.022 and P = 0.010, respectively). In conclusion, we identified 221 novel DNA methylation markers for HCC. One promising prognostic marker, HIST1H2AE, should be further validated in the prognostication of HCC patients.
CpG Islands; DNA Methylation; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Microarray; Prognosis
The canonical role of messenger RNA (mRNA) is to deliver protein-coding information to sites of protein synthesis. However, given that microRNAs bind to RNAs, we hypothesized that RNAs possess a biological role in cancer cells that relies upon their ability to compete for microRNA binding and is independent of their protein-coding function. As a paradigm for the protein-coding-independent role of RNAs, we describe the functional relationship between the mRNAs produced by the PTEN tumour suppressor gene and its pseudogene (PTENP1) and the critical consequences of this interaction. We find that PTENP1 is biologically active as determined by its ability to regulate cellular levels of PTEN, and that it can exert a growth-suppressive role. We also show that PTENP1 locus is selectively lost in human cancer. We extend our analysis to other cancer-related genes that possess pseudogenes, such as oncogenic KRAS. Further, we demonstrate that the transcripts of protein coding genes such as PTEN are also biologically active. Together, these findings attribute a novel biological role to expressed pseudogenes, as they can regulate coding gene expression, and reveal a non-coding function for mRNAs.
The Testisin gene (PRSS21) encodes a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked serine protease that exhibits testis tissue-specific expression. Loss of Testisin has been implicated in testicular tumorigenesis, but its role in testis biology and tumorigenesis is not known. Here we have investigated the role of CpG methylation in Testisin gene inactivation and tested the hypothesis that Testisin may act as a tumour suppressor for testicular tumorigenesis. Using sequence analysis of bisulphite-treated genomic DNA, we find a strong relationship between hypermethylation of a 385 bp 5′ CpG rich island of the Testisin gene, and silencing of the Testisin gene in a range of human tumour cell lines and in 100% (eight/eight) of testicular germ cell tumours. We show that treatment of Testisin-negative cell lines with demethylating agents and/or a histone deacetylase inhibitor results in reactivation of Testisin gene expression, implicating hypermethylation in Testisin gene silencing. Stable expression of Testisin in the Testisin-negative Tera-2 testicular cancer line suppressed tumorigenicity as revealed by inhibition of both anchorage-dependent cell growth and tumour formation in an SCID mouse model of testicular tumorigenesis. Together, these data show that loss of Testisin is caused, at least in part, by DNA hypermethylation and histone deacetylation, and suggest a tumour suppressor role for Testisin in testicular tumorigenesis.
Testisin; methylation; serine protease; tumour suppressor
The CpG-island methylator phenotype (CIMP+) in colorectal cancer (CRC) is characterised by frequent hypermethylation of promoter regions in tumour suppressor genes. Low level methylation of some CpG islands is also seen in the normal colonic mucosa and increases with age; however, it is still unclear what other factors regulate this phenomenon. The first aim of our study was to determine whether the level of promoter methylation is elevated in the normal colonic mucosa of patients with CIMP+ tumours. The second aim was to investigate whether common, functional polymorphisms in genes involved in methyl group metabolism are associated with the level of methylation in this tissue. CpG islands within the ERα, MYOD, P16(INK4A), MLH1, APC, P14(ARF), DAPK and TIMP3 genes were quantitatively evaluated for methylation in normal colonic mucosa from a large series of CRC patients using the MethyLight assay. Genotyping was carried out for polymorphisms in the MTHFR, TS, MS, MTHFD1 and DNMT3b genes. Methylation of ERα and MYOD in normal colonic mucosa increased with age and was higher in female subjects. Methylation of P16(INK4A), MLH1, TIMP3 and DAPK in normal mucosa occurred at a lower level than ERα and MYOD but also increased with age and was significantly higher in patients with CIMP+ tumours. The DNMT3b C46359T polymorphism was associated with significantly less methylation of MYOD and MLH1 and with trends for lower methylation in each of the other CpG islands examined. Our results demonstrate that age, gender and genetic factors can influence the methylation level of CpG islands in gene promoter regions of normal colonic mucosa. Further work is required to determine whether such methylation is associated with the development of CIMP+ CRC.
ERα; MYOD; promoter methylation; DNMT3b; polymorphism; ageing
DNA hypermethylation is a common epigenetic abnormality in cancer and may serve as a useful marker to clone cancer-related genes as well as a marker of clinical disease activity. To identify CpG islands methylated in prostate cancer, we used methylated CpG island amplification (MCA) coupled with representational difference analysis (RDA) on prostate cancer cell lines. We isolated 34 clones that corresponded to promoter CpG islands, including 5 reported targets of hypermethylation in cancer. We confirmed the data for 17 CpG islands by COBRA and/or pyrosequencing. All 17 genes were methylated in at least 2 cell lines of a 21-cancer cell line panel containing prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer. Based on methylation in primary tumors compared to normal adjacent tissues, NKX2-5, CLSTN1, SPOCK2, SLC16A12, DPYS and NSE1 are candidate biomarkers for prostate cancer (methylation range 50%–85%). The combination of NSE1 or SPOCK2 hypermethylation showed a sensitivity of 80% and specificity of 95% in differentiating cancer from normal. Similarly NKX2-5, SPOCK2, SLC16A12, DPYS and GALR2 are candidate biomarkers for colon cancer (methylation range 60%–95%) and GALR2 hypermethylation showed a sensitivity of 85% and specificity of 95%. Finally, SLC16A12, GALR2, TOX, SPOCK2, EGFR5 and DPYS are candidate biomarkers for breast cancer (methylation range 33%–79%) with the combination of EGFR5 or TOX hypermethylation showing a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 92%. Expression analysis for eight genes that had the most hypermethylation confirmed the methylation associated silencing and reactivation with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine treatment. Our data identify new targets of transcriptional silencing in cancer, and provide new biomarkers that could be useful in screening for prostate cancer and other cancers.
CpG island arrays represent a high-throughput epigenomic discovery platform to identify global disease-specific promoter hypermethylation candidates along bladder cancer progression. DNA obtained from 10 pairs of invasive bladder tumours were profiled vs their respective normal urothelium using differential methylation hybridisation on custom-made CpG arrays (n=12 288 clones). Promoter hypermethylation of 84 clones was simultaneously shown in at least 70% of the tumours. SOX9 was selected for further validation by bisulphite genomic sequencing and methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction in bladder cancer cells (n=11) and primary bladder tumours (n=101). Hypermethylation was observed in bladder cancer cells and associated with lack of gene expression, being restored in vitro by a demethylating agent. In primary bladder tumours, SOX9 hypermethylation was present in 56.4% of the cases. Moreover, SOX9 hypermethylation was significantly associated with tumour grade and overall survival. Thus, this high-throughput epigenomic strategy has served to identify novel hypermethylated candidates in bladder cancer. In vitro analyses supported the role of methylation in silencing SOX9 gene. The association of SOX9 hypermethylation with tumour progression and clinical outcome suggests its relevant clinical implications at stratifying patients affected with bladder cancer.
bladder cancer; CpG arrays; methylation
Cowden syndrome (CS) or multiple hamartoma syndrome (MIM 158350) is an autosomal dominant disorder with an increased risk for breast and thyroid carcinoma. The diagnosis of CS, as operationally defined by the International Cowden Consortium, is made when a patient, or family, has a combination of pathognomonic major and/or minor criteria. The CS gene has recently been identified as PTEN, which maps at 10q23.3 and encodes a dual specificity phosphatase. PTEN appears to function as a tumour suppressor in CS, with between 13-80% of CS families harbouring germline nonsense, missense, and frameshift mutations predicted to disrupt normal PTEN function. To date, only a small number of tumour suppressor genes, including BRCA1, BRCA2, and p53, have been associated with familial breast or breast/ovarian cancer families. Given the involvement of PTEN in CS, we postulated that PTEN was a likely candidate to play a role in families with a "CS-like" phenotype, but not classical CS. To answer these questions, we gathered a series of patients from families who had features reminiscent of CS but did not meet the Consortium Criteria. Using a combination of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), temporal temperature gel electrophoresis (TTGE), and sequence analysis, we screened 64 unrelated CS-like subjects for germline mutations in PTEN. A single male with follicular thyroid carcinoma from one of these 64 (2%) CS-like families harboured a germline point mutation, c.209T-->C. This mutation occurred at the last nucleotide of exon 3 and within a region homologous to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin. We conclude that germline PTEN mutations play a relatively minor role in CS-like families. In addition, our data would suggest that, for the most part, the strict International Cowden Consortium operational diagnostic criteria for CS are quite robust and should remain in place.
Promoter CpG island hypermethylation has become recognized as an important mechanism for inactivating tumor suppressor genes or tumor-related genes in human cancers of various tissues. Gene inactivation in association with promoter CpG island hypermethylation has been reported to be four times more frequent than genetic changes in human colorectal cancers. Hepatocellular carcinoma is also one of the human cancer types in which aberrant promoter CpG island hypermethylation is frequently found. However, the number of genes identified to date as hypermethylated for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is fewer than that for colorectal cancer or gastric cancer, which can be attributed to fewer attempts to perform genome-wide methylation profiling for HCC. In the present study, we used bead-array technology and coupled methylation-specific PCR to identify new genes showing cancer-specific methylation in HCC. Twenty-four new genes have been identified as hypermethylated at their promoter CpG island loci in a cancer-specific manner. Of these, TNFRSF10C, HOXA9, NPY, and IRF5 were frequently hypermethylated in hepatocellular carcinoma tissue samples and their methylation was found to be closely associated with inactivation of gene expression. Further study will be required to elucidate the clinicopathological implications of these newly found DNA methylation markers in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Bead Array; CpG Islands; DNA Methylation; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular
Hypermethylation of CpG islands is thought to contribute to carcinogenesis through the inactivation of tumor suppressor genes. Tumor cells with relatively high levels of CpG island methylation are considered CpG island methylator phenotypes (CIMP). The mechanisms that are responsible for regulating the activity of de novo methylation are not well understood.
We quantify and compare de novo methylation kinetics in CIMP and non-CIMP colon cancer cell lines in the context of different loci, following 5-aza-2’deoxycytidine (5-AZA)-mediated de-methylation of cells. In non-CIMP cells, a relatively fast rate of re-methylation is observed that starts with a certain time delay after cessation of 5-AZA treatment. CIMP cells, on the other hand, start re-methylation without a time delay but at a significantly slower rate. A mathematical model can account for these counter-intuitive results by assuming negative feedback regulation of de novo methylation activity and by further assuming that this regulation is corrupted in CIMP cells. This model further suggests that when methylation levels have grown back to physiological levels, de novo methylation activity ceases in non-CIMP cells, while it continues at a constant low level in CIMP cells.
We propose that the faster rate of re-methylation observed in non-CIMP compared to CIMP cells in our study could be a consequence of feedback-mediated regulation of DNA methyl transferase activity. Testing this hypothesis will involve the search for specific feedback regulatory mechanisms involved in the activation of de novo methylation.
This article was reviewed by Georg Luebeck, Tomasz Lipniacki, and Anna Marciniak-Czochra
Methylation kinetics; Methylator phenotype; Methylation rates; Mathematical modeling
PTEN, a putative tumour suppressor gene associated with prostate and other cancers, is known to be located within the chromosomal region 10q23.3. Transcription of the PTEN gives rise to multiple mRNA species. Analyses by Northern blots, using cell lines which express PTEN together with cell lines which have lost the PTEN or carry a truncated version of the gene, has allowed us to demonstrate that the pseudogene is not transcribed. In addition, 3′ RACE studies confirmed that the multiple mRNA species arising from the gene probably result from the use of alternative polyadenylation sites. No evidence for tissue- or cell-specific patterns of transcription was found. Analysis by 5′ RACE placed the putative site for the start of transcription around 830 bp upstream of the start codon. A map of the location of the PTEN gene with a series of overlapping YAC, BAC and PACs has been constructed and the relative position of eight microsatellite markers sited. Two known and one novel marker have been positioned within the gene, the others are in flanking regions. The more accurate location of these markers should help in future studies of the extent of gene loss. Several polymorphisms were also identified, all were within introns. Four of the common polymorphisms appear to be linked. In blood, DNA from 200 individuals, including normal, BPH and prostate cancer patients, confirmed this link. Only two samples of 200 did not carry the linked haplotype, both were patients with advanced prostate cancer. It is possible that such rearrangements within PTEN could be evidence of predisposition to prostate cancer in this small number of cases. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
PTEN; microsatellite markers; polymorphisms; prostate; transcription
Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is in chromosome 8p22, site of one of the most common somatic deletions in prostate tumors. Additionally, a CpG island (CGI) was identified in the LPL promoter region. To test the hypothesis that LPL is a tumor suppressor gene, which is inactivated by somatic deletion and hypermethylation in prostate cancer, we evaluated somatic DNA deletion and methylation status at LPL in 56 pairs of DNA samples isolated from prostate cancer tissues and matching normal controls and 11 prostate cell lines. We found that the DNA in 21 of 56 primary cancers (38%) was methylated in the LPL promoter CGI, whereas no methylation was detected in any normal samples. In addition, we found a hemizygous deletion at LPL in 38 of the 56 tumors (68%). When the results of deletion and methylation were considered together, we found LPL promoter CGI methylation occurred in 45% of LPL deleted tumors and in 22% of LPL retained tumors. Within several clinical characteristics tested, the preoperative PSA levels were found to be significantly higher in subjects with LPL promoter CGI methylation compared with subjects without LPL promoter methylation (p = 0.0012). Additionally, demethylation of the LPL promoter CGI was accompanied by transcriptional reactivation of LPL in the prostate cancer cell lines DU145 and PC3. In summary, we report a novel finding that the LPL gene is commonly methylated in prostate tumors, and our results suggest that biallelic inactivation of LPL by chromosomal deletion and promoter hypermethylation may play a role in human prostate cancer.
LPL; promoter methylation; prostate cancer; somatic deletion; biallelic inactivation
The phosphatase and tensin homolog located on chromosome ten, PTEN, is one of the most commonly mutated tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) in human cancer [1–3]. PTEN catalyzes the conversion of the membrane lipid second messenger PIP3 to PIP2 and is therefore a key mediator of the AKT/PKB pathway [4,5]. Although inherited PTEN mutations predispose to the development of Cowden syndrome, which is also a breast cancer susceptibility syndrome, the role of PTEN in breast tumorigenesis has been considered minor when compared to that of other TSGs such as BRCA1 or p53 . There is no current evidence that mutations in PTEN account for a substantial proportion of familial breast cancer in the absence of Cowden syndrome . Moreover, PTEN mutations or deletions are not common in sporadic breast tumors, especially when compared with other tumor types (<5%) such as prostate cancer [7, 8].
Despite this evidence, recent studies have demonstrated that PTEN protein down-regulation is frequently observed (more than 50%) in sporadic breast tumors, highlighting the relevance of the dose of this TSG for the pathogenesis of breast cancer [7–9]. Our paper, in the last month’s issue of Nature Genetics provides additional evidence of the role of PTEN dose in breast cancer susceptibility, braking current dogmas regarding the development of cancer and opening to novel clinical and therapeutic implications .