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1.  Aberrant Promoter Hypermethylation and Genomic Hypomethylation in Tumor, Adjacent Normal Tissues and Blood from Breast Cancer Patients 
Anticancer research  2010;30(7):2489-2496.
Promoter hypermethylation and global hypomethylation in the human genome are hallmarks of most cancers. Detection of aberrant methylation in white blood cells (WBC) has been suggested as a marker for cancer development, but has not been extensively investigated. This study was carried out to determine whether aberrant methylation in WBC DNA can be used as a surrogate biomarker for breast cancer risk.
Patients and Methods
Promoter hypermethylation of 8 tumor suppressor genes (RASSF1A, APC, HIN1, BRCA1, cyclinD1, RARβ, CDH1 and TWIST1) and DNA methylation for three repetitive elements (LINE1, Sat2M1 and AluM2) were analyzed in invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, paired adjacent normal tissue and WBC from 40 breast cancer patients by the MethyLight assay. Methylation in WBC from 40 controls was also analyzed.
Tumor and adjacent tissues showed frequent hypermethylation for all genes tested, while WBC DNA was rarely hypermethylated. For HIN1, RASSF1A, APC and TWIST1 there was agreement between hypermethylation in tumor and adjacent tissues (P=0.04, P=0.02, P=0.005 and P<0.0001, respectively). DNA methylation for the three repetitive elements was lower in tumor compared to adjacent tissue and WBC DNA. Significant correlations in the methylation of Sat2M1 between tumor and adjacent tissues and WBC DNA were found (P<0.0001 and P=0.046, respectively). There was also a significant difference in methylation of Sat2M1 between cases and controls (P=0.01).
These results suggest that further studies of WBC methylation, including prospective studies, may provide biomarkers of breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3568974  PMID: 20682973
Breast cancer; promoter hypermethylation; genomic methylation; tumor suppressor genes; repetitive elements; WBC DNA
2.  Molecular Analysis of Plasma DNA for the Early Detection of Lung Cancer by Quantitative Methylation Specific PCR 
Aberrant promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes is a promising marker for lung cancer detection. We investigated the likelihood of detecting aberrant DNA methylation of tumor suppressor genes, in plasma samples of patients with abnormalities of the lung detected upon CT-scan.
Experimental design
In a small evaluation cohort, 4 gene promoters (DCC, Kif1a, NISCH, Rarb) were found to be methylated with increased frequency in samples from cancer patients specifically. We then examined DNA from 93 plasma samples from patients with abnormal findings in the lung detected upon CT scan for aberrant methylation of these 4 gene promoters by quantitative fluorogenic real-time PCR (QMSP). The patients were divided into 2 groups, ground glass opacity (GGO n=23) and cancerous tumors (n=70). Plasma DNA from age-matched nodule-free individuals were used as controls (n=80).
In plasma, 73% of patients with cancerous tumors showed methylation of at least one gene with a specificity of 71% (p=0.0001). Only 22% patients with GGO exhibited methylation of at least one gene. When smoking history was taken into account, 72% of cancer patients with no smoking history or those who smoked <20 pack years, showed methylation of at least one gene with 100% specificity (p=0.05) when compared to matched controls. Among heavy smokers with 20+ pack years of smoking history, 30% of the control group and 73% of the patients with cancerous tumors showed methylation (p=0.0001).
These biomarkers can distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous abnormal CT findings.
PMCID: PMC2899894  PMID: 20592015
3.  Aberrant promoter methylation of CDH13 and MGMT genes is associated with clinicopathological characteristics of primary non small cell lung carcinoma 
Clinical Lung Cancer  2011;13(4):297-303.
Systemic methylation changes may be a diagnostic marker for tumor development or prognosis. Here, we investigate the relationship between gene methylation in lung tumors relative to normal lung tissue, and whether DNA methylation changes can be detected in paired blood samples.
Material and methods
Sixty five patients were enrolled in a surgical case series of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at a single institution. Using bisulfite pyrosequencing, CpG methylation was quantified at five genes (RASSF1A, CDH13, MGMT, ESR1 and DAPK) in lung tumor, pathologically normal lung tissue, and circulating blood from enrolled cases.
The analyses of methylation in tumors compared to normal lung tissue identified higher methylation of CDH13, RASSF1A, and DAPK genes, while ESR1 and MGMT methylation did not differ significantly between these tissue types. We then examined whether the three aberrantly methylated genes could be detected in blood. The difference in methylation observed in tumors was not reflected in methylation status of matching blood samples, indicating a low feasibility of detecting lung cancer by analyzing these genes in a blood-based test. Lastly we probed whether tumor methylation was associatied with clinical and demographic characteristics. Histology and gender were associated with methylation at the CDH13 gene, while stage was associated with methylation at MGMT.
Our results show higher methylation of RASSF1A, CDH13, and DAPK genes in lung tumors compared to normal lung. The lack of reflection of these methylation changes in blood samples from patients with NSCLC indicate their poorly suitability for a screening test.
PMCID: PMC3346856  PMID: 22169480
methylation; non-small cell lung cancer; CDH13; MGMT; clinicopathological characteristics
4.  Aberrant promoter methylation of multiple genes in sputum from individuals exposed to smoky coal emissions 
Anticancer research  2008;28(4B):2061-2066.
Aberrant methylation in the promoter region of cancer-related genes leads to gene transcriptional inactivation and plays an integral role in lung tumorigenesis. Recent studies demonstrated that promoter methylation was detected not only in lung tumors from patients with lung cancer but also in sputum of smokers without the disease, suggesting the potential for aberrant gene promoter methylation in sputum as a predictive marker for lung cancer. In the present study, we investigated promoter methylation of 4 genes frequently detected in lung tumors, including p16, MGMT, RASSF1A and DAPK genes, in sputum samples obtained from 107 individuals, including 34 never-smoking females and 73 mostly smoking males, who had no evidence of lung cancer but who were exposed to smoky coal emission in Xuan Wei County, China, where lung cancer rate is more than 6 times the Chinese national average rate. Forty nine of the individuals showed evidence of chronic bronchitis while the remaining 58 individuals showed no such a symptom. Promoter methylation of p16, MGMT, RASSF1A and DAPK was detected in 51.4% (55/107), 17.8% (19/107), 29.9% (32/107), and 15.9% (17/107) of the sputum samples from these individuals, respectively. There were no differences in promoter methylation frequencies of any of these genes according to smoking status or gender of the subjects or between individuals with chronic bronchitis and those without evidence of such a symptom. Therefore, individuals exposed to smoky coal emissions in this region harbored in their sputum frequent promoter methylation of these genes that have been previously found in lung tumors and implicated in lung cancer development.
PMCID: PMC2974317  PMID: 18751376
Smoky coal emissions; Gene promoter methylation; Lung cancer
5.  DNA Methylation in Tumor and Matched Normal Tissues from Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients 
We used MethyLight assays to analyze DNA methylation status of 27 genes on 49 paired cancerous and noncancerous tissue samples from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who underwent surgical resection. Seven genes (RARB, BVES, CDKN2A, KCNH5, RASSF1, CDH13, and RUNX) were found to be methylated significantly more frequently in tumor tissues than in noncancerous tissues. Only methylation of CCND2 and APC was frequently detected in both cancerous and noncancerous tissues, supporting the hypothesis that the methylation of these two genes is a preneoplastic change and may be associated with tobacco smoking exposure. Methylation of any one of eight genes (RASSF1, DAPK1, BVES, CDH13, MGMT, KCNH5, RARB, or CDH1) was present in 80% of NSCLC tissues but only in 14% of noncancerous tissues. Detection of methylation of these genes in blood might have utility in monitoring and detecting tumor recurrence in early-stage NSCLC after curative surgical resection.
PMCID: PMC2798850  PMID: 18349282
6.  Detection of MGMT, RASSF1A, p15INK4B, and p14ARF promoter methylation in circulating tumor-derived DNA of central nervous system cancer patients 
Journal of Applied Genetics  2013;54(3):335-344.
Despite the growing understanding of the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, cancers of the central nervous system are usually associated with unfavorable prognosis. The use of an appropriate molecular marker may improve the treatment outcome by allowing early diagnosis and treatment susceptibility monitoring. Since methylation of tumor-derived DNA can be detected in the serum of cancer patients, this makes DNA methylation-based biomarkers one of the most promising diagnostic strategies. In this study, the methylation profiles of MGMT, RASSF1A, p15INK4B, and p14ARF genes were evaluated in serum free-circulating DNA and the corresponding tumor tissue in a group of 33 primary or metastatic central nervous system cancer patients. Gene promoter methylation was assessed using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR). All the tested genes were found to be methylated to a different extent in both serum and tumor samples. In comparison to metastatic brain tumor patients, the patients with glial tumors were characterized by a higher frequency of gene hypermethylation. The hypermethylation of RASSF1A differentiated primary from metastatic brain cancers. Moreover, the gene methylation profiles observed in serum, in most cases, matched the methylation profiles detected in paired tumor samples.
PMCID: PMC3720989  PMID: 23661397
Central nervous system cancers; DNA methylation; Biomarker; Serum free-circulating DNA
7.  Comparison of Methylation Profiling in Cancerous and Their Corresponding Normal Tissues from Korean Patients with Breast Cancer 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2013;33(6):431-440.
Aberrant DNA hypermethylation plays a pivotal role in carcinogenesis and disease progression; therefore, accurate measurement of differential gene methylation patterns among many genes is likely to reveal biomarkers for improved risk assessment. We evaluated the gene hypermethylation profiles of primary breast tumors and their corresponding normal tissues and investigated the association between major clinicopathological features and gene hypermethylation.
A single reaction using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to analyze the DNA methylation status of 24 tumor suppressor genes in 60 cancerous tissues and their corresponding normal tissues from patients with primary breast cancer.
In cancerous breast tissues, 21 of 24 genes displayed promoter methylation in one or more samples. The most frequently methylated genes included RASSF1 (43.3%), APC (31.7%), CDKN2B (25.0%), CDH13 (23.3%), GSTP1 (16.7%), and BRCA1 (10%). APC was associated with lymph node metastasis, and BRCA1 was associated with negative estrogen receptor and negative progesterone receptor expression. In normal breast tissues, 8 of 24 tumor suppressor genes displayed promoter hypermethylation; CDKN2B (28.3%) and RASSF1 (8.3%) hypermethylation were most frequently observed.
RASSF1 and CDKN2B hypermethylation in Korean breast cancer patients were the most frequent in cancerous tissue and corresponding normal tissue, respectively. Our data indicates that methylation of specific genes is a frequent event in morphologically normal breast tissues adjacent to breast tumors as well as the corresponding breast cancers. This study also suggests that gene methylation is linked to various pathological features of breast cancer; however, this requires confirmation in a larger study.
PMCID: PMC3819443  PMID: 24205493
Breast cancer; Epigenetics; Carcinogenesis; Methylation
8.  Methylation of the RASSF1A and RARβ genes as a candidate biomarker for lung cancer 
Promoter methylation of the RASSF1A and RARβ genes has been associated with susceptibility to different types of cancer. In addition, RASSF1A and RARβ methylation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of lung cancer. We investigated the aberrant promoter methylation of RASSF1A and RARβ in lung cancer patients using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP). Aberrant promoter methylation of the RASSF1A gene was detected in 45 of 56 (80.36%) cancer patients and aberrant promoter methylation of the RARβ gene was found in 48 of 56 (85.71%) cases; promoter methylation of both genes was found in 42 of 56 (75%) lung cancer cases. None of the 52 samples from controls exhibited DNA methylation in these two target genes. Methylation was significantly associated with the lung cancer cases compared to controls for the RASSF1A gene (adjusted OR=7.50; 95% CI, 3.935–14.296; p<0.001); similar results were obtained for methylation of the RARβ gene (adjusted OR=5.727; 95% CI, 3.348–9.797; p<0.001). In addition, the association remained significant in these two target genes (adjusted OR=8.429; 95% CI, 4.205–16.896; p<0.001). Our results indicated that the high percentage of promoter methylation in the RARβ and RASSF1A genes indicate their important role in the development of lung cancer in the population studied, and that risk of lung cancer for carriers positive for both genes is higher than in single-gene positive carriers, which may serve as a useful marker for prognosis and a target for the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3438552  PMID: 22970018
methylation; Ras association domain family 1 A gene; RARβ gene; lung cancer; methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction
9.  Clinical Implications of Promoter Hypermethylation in RASSF1A and MGMT in Retinoblastoma1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2005;7(3):200-206.
We investigated the epigenetic silencing and genetic changes of the RAS-associated domain family 1A (RASSF1A) gene and the O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene in retinoblastoma. We extracted DNA from microdissected tumor and normal retina tissues of the same patient in 68 retinoblastoma cases. Promoter methylation in RASSF1A and MGMT was analyzed by methylation-specific PCR, RASSF1A sequence alterations in all coding exons by direct DNA sequencing, and RASSF1A expression by RT-PCR. Cell cycle staging was analyzed by flow cytometry. We detected RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation in 82% of retinoblastoma, in tumor tissues only but not in adjacent normal retinal tissue cells. There was no expression of RASSF1A transcripts in all hypermethylated samples, but RASSF1A transcripts were restored after 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine treatment with no changes in cell cycle or apoptosis. No mutation in the RASSF1A sequence was found. MGMT hypermethylation was present in 15% of theretinoblastoma samples, and the absence of MGMT hypermethylation was associated (P = .002) with retinoblastoma at advanced Reese-Ellsworth tumor stage. Our results revealed a high RASSF1A hypermethylation frequency in retinoblastoma. The correlation of MGMT inactivation by promoter hypermethylation with lower-stage diseases indicated that MGMT hypermethylation provides useful prognostic information. Epigenetic mechanism plays an important role in the progression of retinoblastoma.
PMCID: PMC1501141  PMID: 15799820
Retinoblastoma; methylation; RASSF1A; MGMT; RB
10.  Quantitative analysis of DNA methylation profiles in lung cancer identifies aberrant DNA methylation of specific genes and its association with gender and cancer risk factors 
Cancer research  2009;69(1):243-252.
The global rise in lung cancer burden, together with its poor survival and resistance to classical chemotherapy underscores the need for identification of critical molecular events involved in lung carcinogenesis. Here, we have applied quantitative profiling of DNA methylation states in a panel of five cancer-associated genes (CDH1, CDKN2A, GSTP1, MTHFR and RASSF1A) to a large case-control study of lung cancer. Our analyses revealed a high frequency of aberrant hypermethylation of MTHFR, RASSF1A and CDKN2A in lung tumours as compared to control blood samples, whereas no significant increase in methylation levels of GSTP1 and CDH1 was observed, consistent with the notion that aberrant DNA methylation occurs in a tumour-specific and gene-specific manner. Importantly, we found that tobacco smoking, sex, and alcohol intake had a strong influence on the methylation levels of distinct genes (RASSF1A and MTHFR), whereas folate intake, age and histological subtype had no significant influence on methylation states. We observed a strong association between MTHFR hypermethylation in lung cancer and tobacco smoking, whereas methylation levels of CDH1, CDKN2A, GSTP1 and RASSF1A were not associated with smoking, indicating that tobacco smoke targets specific genes for hypermethylation. We also found that methylation levels in RASSF1A, but not the other genes under study, were influenced by sex, with males showing higher levels of methylation. Together, this study identifies aberrant DNA methylation patterns in lung cancer and thus exemplifies the mechanism by which environmental factors may interact with key genes involved in tumour suppression and contribute to lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2613548  PMID: 19118009
DNA methylation; lung cancer; risk factors; tobacco; MTHFR
11.  DNA methylation of the p14ARF, RASSF1A and APC1A genes as an independent prognostic factor in colorectal cancer patients 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;42(1):127-133.
We quantitated the methylated fraction of CpG sites in the promoter regions of O6-MGMT, p14ARF, p16INK4a, RASSF1A and APC1A in tumor tissue from patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) in order to determine if promoter hypermethylation of any of these genes predicts survival. DNA was isolated from 111 primary CRC and 46 matched normal colorectal mucosa samples from the same patients, obtained at primary surgery and DNA methylation was examined by Pyrosequencing®. Follow-up time was up to 20 years. Patients showed partial promoter methylation in the following frequencies: O6-MGMT, 34%; p14ARF, 29%; p16INK4a, 28%; RASSF1A, 14%; and APC1A, 27%. Normal mucosa was always unmethylated. CRC patients with methylated p14ARF gene promoter had significantly worse prognosis (p=0.036), whereas those with methylated O6-MGMT had significantly better prognosis through the first 60 months post-treatment (RR 0.36; p=0.023). Methylation of one or more of the genes from the set p14ARF, RASSF1A and APC1A, was significantly (p= 0.021) associated with worse prognosis even adjusting for tumor stage and differentiation (RR 2.2, p=0.037). Thus, DNA methylation of the p14ARF, RASSF1A and APC1A genes, diagnosed by Pyrosequencing, defines a poor prognosis subset of CRC patients independently of both tumor stage and differentiation. O6-MGMT methylation may play a protective role.
PMCID: PMC3583697  PMID: 23128528
APC1A; colorectal cancer; CpG sites; DNA methylation; O6-MGMT; p14ARF; p16INK4a; preterapeutic predictor; prognosis; Pyrosequencing®; RASSF1A; survival; tumor stage; tumor differentiation
12.  RASSF1A hypermethylation in pretreatment serum DNA of neuroblastoma patients: a prognostic marker 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;100(2):399-404.
The tumour suppressor gene RASSF1A is known to be frequently silenced by promoter hypermethylation in neuroblastoma tumours. Here we explored the possible prognostic significance of aberrant promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A in serum DNA samples of patients with neuroblastoma as a surrogate marker for circulating tumour cells. We analysed the methylation status of the RASSF1A gene in matched tumour and pretreatment serum DNA obtained from 68 neuroblastoma patients. Hypermethylation of RASSF1A in tumour samples was found in 64 patients (94%). In contrast, serum methylation of RASSF1A was observed in 17 patients (25%). Serum methylation of RASSF1A was found to be statistically associated with age ⩾12 months at diagnosis (P=0.002), stage 4 (P<0.001) and MYCN amplification (P<0.001). The influence of serum RASSF1A methylation on prognosis was found to be comparable with that of the currently most reliable marker, MYCN amplification on univariate analysis (hazard ratio, 9.2; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.8–30.1; P<0.001). In multivariate analysis of survival, methylation of RASSF1A in serum had a hazard ratio of 2.4 (95% CI, 0.6–9.2), although this association did not reach statistical significance (P=0.194). These findings show that the methylation status of RASSF1A in the serum of patients with neuroblastoma has the potential to become a prognostic predictor of outcome.
PMCID: PMC2634715  PMID: 19165202
RASSF1A; methylation; serum; DNA; neuroblastoma
13.  Detection of promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes in serum DNA of breast cancer cases and benign breast disease controls 
Epigenetics  2012;7(11):1258-1267.
Tumors are capable of shedding DNA into the blood stream. This shed DNA may be recovered from serum or plasma. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether pyrosequencing promoter DNA in a panel of 12 breast cancer-related genes (APC, BRCA1, CCND2, CDH1, ESR1, GSTP1, HIN1, P16, RARβ, RASSF1, SFRP1 and TWIST) to measure the degree of methylation would lead to a useful serum-based marker of breast cancer. Serum was obtained from women who were about to undergo a breast biopsy or mastectomy at three hospitals from 1977 to 1987 in Grand Rapids, MI USA. We compared the methylation status of 12 genes in serum DNA obtained from three groups of postmenopausal women (mean age at blood collection: 63.0 y; SD 9.9; range 35–91): breast cancer cases with lymph node-positive disease (n = 241); breast cancer cases with lymph node-negative disease (n = 63); and benign breast disease control subjects (n = 234). Overall, median levels of promoter methylation were low, typically below 5%, for all genes in all study groups. For all genes, median levels of methylation were higher (by 3.3 to 47.6%) in lymph node-positive breast cancer cases than in the controls. Comparing mean methylation level between lymph-node positive cases and controls, the most statistically significant findings, after adjustment of the false-positive rate (q-value), were for TWIST (p = 0.04), SFRP1 (p = 0.16), ESR1 (p = 0.17), P16 (p = 0.19) and APC (p = 0.19). For two of these four genes (TWIST, P16), the median methylation level was also highest in lymph-node positive cases, intermediate in lymph node-negative cases and lowest in the controls. The percent of study subjects with mean methylation scores ≥ 5% was higher among lymph node-positive cases than controls for ten genes, and significantly higher for HIN1 and TWIST (22.0 vs. 12.2%, p = 0.04 and 37.9 vs. 24.5%, p = 0.004, respectively). Despite relatively consistent variation in methylation patterns among groups, these modest differences did not provide sufficient ability to distinguish between cases and controls in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC3499327  PMID: 22986510
serum DNA; breast cancer; promoter methylation; early marker; pyrosequencing
14.  Recurrence in oral and pharyngeal cancer is associated with quantitative MGMT promoter methylation 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:354.
Biomarkers that predict clinical response, tumor recurrence or patient survival are severely lacking for most cancers, particularly for oral and pharyngeal cancer. This study examines whether gene-promoter methylation of tumor DNA correlates with survival and recurrence rates in a population of patients with oral or pharyngeal cancer.
The promoter methylation status of the DNA repair gene MGMT and the tumor suppressor genes CDKN2A and RASSF1 were evaluated by methylation-specific PCR in 88 primary oral and pharyngeal tumors and correlated with survival and tumor recurrence. Quantitative MGMT methylation was also assessed.
29.6% of the tumors presented with MGMT methylation, 11.5% with CDKN2A methylation and 12.1% with RASSF1 methylation. MGMT promoter methylation was significantly associated with poorer overall and disease-free survival. No differences in methylation status of MGMT and RASSF1 with HPV infection, smoking or drinking habits were observed. A significant inverse trend with the amount of MGMT methylation and overall and disease-free survival was observed (ptrend = 0.002 and 0.001 respectively).
These results implicate MGMT promoter methylation as a possible biomarker for oral and pharyngeal cancer prognosis. The critical role of MGMT in DNA repair suggests that defective DNA repair may be correlative in the observed association between MGMT promoter methylation and tumor recurrence. Follow-up studies should include further quantitative MSP-PCR measurement, global methylation profiling and detailed analysis of downstream DNA repair genes regulated by promoter methylation.
PMCID: PMC2763008  PMID: 19807915
15.  Aberrant Promoter Methylation of p16 and MGMT Genes in Lung Tumors from Smoking and Never-Smoking Lung Cancer Patients1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2006;8(1):46-51.
Aberrant methylation in gene promoter regions leads to transcriptional inactivation of cancer-related genes and plays an integral role in tumorigenesis. This alteration has been investigated in lung tumors primarily from smokers, whereas only a few studies involved never-smokers. Here, we applied methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction to compare the frequencies of the methylated promoter of p16 and O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) genes in lung tumors from 122 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, including 81 smokers and 41 never-smokers. Overall, promoter methylation was detected in 52.5% (64 of 122) and 30.3% (37 of 122) of the p16 and MGMT genes, respectively. Furthermore, the frequency of promoter methylation was significantly higher among smokers, compared with never-smokers, for both the p16 [odds ratio (OR) = 3.28; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.28-8.39; P = .013] and MGMT (OR = 3.93; 95% CI = 1.27-12.21; P = .018) genes. The trend for a higher promoter methylation frequency of these genes was also observed among female smokers compared with female never-smokers. Our results suggest an association between tobacco smoking and an increased incidence of aberrant promoter methylation of the p16 and MGMT genes in non-small cell lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC1584289  PMID: 16533425
Lung tumors; p16; MGMT; promoter methylation; never-smokers
16.  Methylation of tumor suppressor genes in ovarian cancer 
Aberrant methylation of gene promoter regions is one of the mechanisms for inactivation of tumor suppressor genes in human malignancies. In this study, the methylation pattern of 24 tumor suppressor genes was analyzed in 75 samples of ovarian cancer using the methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) assay. Of the 24 tumor suppressor genes examined, aberrant methylation was observed in 17. The three most frequently methylated genes were CDKN2B, CDH13 and RASSF1, followed by ESR1 and MLH1. Methylation frequencies ranged from 1.3% for CDKN2A, RARβ, CASP8, VHL and TP73 to 24% for CDKN2B. The corresponding normal DNA from each patient was also investigated. Methylation was detected in tumors, although not in normal tissues, with the exception of two samples, indicating aberrant methylation in tumors. Clear cell carcinoma samples exhibited a higher frequency of CDKN2B promoter hypermethylation compared to those of other histological types (P=0.05). Our data indicate that methylation of the CDKN2B gene is a frequent event in ovarian carcinogenesis and that analysis of only three genes is sufficient to detect the presence of methylation in 35% of ovarian cancer cases. However, more studies using a much larger sample size are needed to define the potential role of DNA methylation as a marker for ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3494110  PMID: 23226780
ovarian cancer; methylation; methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification; tumor suppressor gene
17.  Promoter hypermethylation of the tumor-suppressor genes ITIH5, DKK3, and RASSF1A as novel biomarkers for blood-based breast cancer screening 
For early detection of breast cancer, the development of robust blood-based biomarkers that accurately reflect the host tumor is mandatory. We investigated DNA methylation in circulating free DNA (cfDNA) from blood of breast cancer patients and matched controls to establish a biomarker panel potentially useful for early detection of breast cancer.
We examined promoter methylation of seven putative tumor-suppressor genes (SFRP1, SFRP2, SFRP5, ITIH5, WIF1, DKK3, and RASSF1A) in cfDNA extracted from serum. Clinical performance was first determined in a test set (n = 261 sera). In an independent validation set (n = 343 sera), we validated the most promising genes for further use in early breast cancer detection. Sera from 59 benign breast disease and 58 colon cancer patients were included for additional specificity testing.
Based on the test set, we determined ITIH5 and DKK3 promoter methylation as candidate biomarkers with the best sensitivity and specificity. In both the test and validation set combined, ITIH5 and DKK3 methylation achieved 41% sensitivity with a specificity of 93% and 100% in healthy and benign disease controls, respectively. Combination of these genes with RASSF1A methylation increased the sensitivity to 67% with a specificity of 69% and 82% in healthy controls and benign disease controls, respectively.
Tumor-specific methylation of the three-gene panel (ITIH5, DKK3, and RASSF1A) might be a valuable biomarker for the early detection of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3672828  PMID: 23320751
18.  Quantitative methylation profiling in tumor and matched morphologically normal tissues from breast cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:97.
In the present study, we determined the gene hypermethylation profiles of normal tissues adjacent to invasive breast carcinomas and investigated whether these are associated with the gene hypermethylation profiles of the corresponding primary breast tumors.
A quantitative methylation-specific PCR assay was used to analyze the DNA methylation status of 6 genes (DAPK, TWIST, HIN-1, RASSF1A, RARβ2 and APC) in 9 normal breast tissue samples from unaffected women and in 56 paired cancerous and normal tissue samples from breast cancer patients.
Normal tissue adjacent to breast cancer displayed statistically significant differences to unrelated normal breast tissues regarding the aberrant methylation of the RASSF1A (P = 0.03), RARβ2 (P = 0.04) and APC (P = 0.04) genes. Although methylation ratios for all genes in normal tissues from cancer patients were significantly lower than in the cancerous tissue from the same patient (P ≤ 0.01), in general, a clear correlation was observed between methylation ratios measured in both tissue types for all genes tested (P < 0.01). When analyzed as a categorical variable, there was a significant concordance between methylation changes in normal tissues and in the corresponding tumor for all genes tested but RASSF1A. Notably, in 73% of patients, at least one gene with an identical methylation change in cancerous and normal breast tissues was observed.
Histologically normal breast tissues adjacent to breast tumors frequently exhibit methylation changes in multiple genes. These methylation changes may play a role in the earliest stages of the development of breast neoplasia.
PMCID: PMC2845117  PMID: 20226036
19.  Methylation of cancer related genes in tumor and peripheral blood DNA from the same breast cancer patient as two independent events 
Diagnostic Pathology  2011;6:116.
Recently it has been suggested that acquisition of methylation of the BRCA1 promoter detectable in peripheral blood (PB) DNA, could give raise to development of breast cancer. In this study, we aimed to investigate a relationship between methylation of three breast cancer related genes in PB DNA, and tumor specific (somatic) methylation of these genes in the same individual.
We have examined methylation status of the BRCA1, APC and RASSF1A promoter regions in a panel of 75 breast tumor and PB DNA samples from the same individual. In our study group, 4.0% of the patients displayed methylation of BRCA1 and APC in both tumor and the corresponding PB DNA. At the same time despite of marked methylation in tumor DNA, no methylation of BRCA1 and APC was seen in PB DNA of 4.3% and 2.7% of the patients respectively. The RASSF1A promoter did not show methylation in PB DNA.
Our results show that for at least a subset of cancer patients methylation of certain cancer related genes in PB DNA does not seem to be directly linked to somatic methylation of the same genes in tumor DNA, and therefore may only be specific to PB DNA.
PMCID: PMC3253685  PMID: 22129206
Methylation; cancer predisposition; BRCA1; APC; RASSF1A.
20.  Potential diagnostic and prognostic values of detecting promoter hypermethylation in the serum of patients with gastric cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2005;92(12):2190-2194.
While there is no reliable serum biomarker for the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with gastric cancer, we tested the potential diagnostic and prognostic values of detecting methylation changes in the serum of gastric cancer patients. DNA was extracted from the pretherapeutic serum of 60 patients with confirmed gastric adenocarcinoma and 22 age-matched noncancer controls. Promoter hypermethylation in 10 tumour-related genes (APC, E-cadherin, GSTP1, hMLH1, MGMT, p15, p16, SOCS1, TIMP3 and TGF-beta RII) was determined by quantitative methylation-specific PCR (MethyLight). Preferential methylation in the serum DNA of gastric cancer patients was noted in APC (17%), E-cadherin (13%), hMLH1 (41%) and TIMP3 (17%) genes. Moreover, patients with stages III/IV diseases tended to have higher concentrations of methylated APC (P=0.08), TIMP3 (P=0.005) and hMLH1 (P=0.03) in the serum. In all, 33 cancers (55%) had methylation detected in the serum in at least one of these four markers, while three normal subjects had methylation detected in the serum (specificity 86%). The combined use of APC and E-cadherin methylation markers identified a subgroup of cancer patients with worse prognosis (median survival 3.3 vs 16.1 months, P=0.006). These results suggest that the detection of DNA methylation in the serum may carry both diagnostic and therapeutic values in gastric cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC2361805  PMID: 15942635
gastric cancer; promoter hypermethylation; tumour suppressor genes; oncogenes
21.  The RASSF gene family members RASSF5, RASSF6 and RASSF7 show frequent DNA methylation in neuroblastoma 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:40.
Hypermethylation of promotor CpG islands is a common mechanism that inactivates tumor suppressor genes in cancer. Genes belonging to the RASSF gene family have frequently been reported as epigenetically silenced by promotor methylation in human cancers. Two members of this gene family, RASSF1A and RASSF5A have been reported as methylated in neuroblastoma. Data from our previously performed genome-wide DNA methylation array analysis indicated that other members of the RASSF gene family are targeted by DNA methylation in neuroblastoma.
In the current study, we found that several of the RASSF family genes (RASSF2, RASSF4, RASSF5, RASSF6, RASSF7, and RASSF10) to various degrees were methylated in neuroblastoma cell lines and primary tumors. In addition, several of the RASSF family genes showed low or absent mRNA expression in neuroblastoma cell lines. RASSF5 and RASSF6 were to various degrees methylated in a large portion of neuroblastoma tumors and RASSF7 was heavily methylated in most tumors. Further, CpG methylation sites in the CpG islands of some RASSF family members could be used to significantly discriminate between biological subgroups of neuroblastoma tumors. For example, RASSF5 methylation highly correlated to MYCN amplification and INRG stage M. Furthermore, high methylation of RASSF6 was correlated to unfavorable outcome, 1p deletion and MYCN amplification in our tumor material.
In conclusion
This study shows that several genes belonging to the RASSF gene family are methylated in neuroblastoma. The genes RASSF5, RASSF6 and RASSF7 stand out as the most promising candidate genes for further investigations in neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3493266  PMID: 22695170
22.  Aberrant Gene Promoter Methylation Associated with Sporadic Multiple Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8777.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) multiplicity has been mainly related to polyposis and non-polyposis hereditary syndromes. In sporadic CRC, aberrant gene promoter methylation has been shown to play a key role in carcinogenesis, although little is known about its involvement in multiplicity. To assess the effect of methylation in tumor multiplicity in sporadic CRC, hypermethylation of key tumor suppressor genes was evaluated in patients with both multiple and solitary tumors, as a proof-of-concept of an underlying epigenetic defect.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We examined a total of 47 synchronous/metachronous primary CRC from 41 patients, and 41 gender, age (5-year intervals) and tumor location-paired patients with solitary tumors. Exclusion criteria were polyposis syndromes, Lynch syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. DNA methylation at the promoter region of the MGMT, CDKN2A, SFRP1, TMEFF2, HS3ST2 (3OST2), RASSF1A and GATA4 genes was evaluated by quantitative methylation specific PCR in both tumor and corresponding normal appearing colorectal mucosa samples. Overall, patients with multiple lesions exhibited a higher degree of methylation in tumor samples than those with solitary tumors regarding all evaluated genes. After adjusting for age and gender, binomial logistic regression analysis identified methylation of MGMT2 (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.97; p = 0.008) and RASSF1A (OR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.01 to 4.13; p = 0.047) as variables independently associated with tumor multiplicity, being the risk related to methylation of any of these two genes 4.57 (95% CI, 1.53 to 13.61; p = 0.006). Moreover, in six patients in whom both tumors were available, we found a correlation in the methylation levels of MGMT2 (r = 0.64, p = 0.17), SFRP1 (r = 0.83, 0.06), HPP1 (r = 0.64, p = 0.17), 3OST2 (r = 0.83, p = 0.06) and GATA4 (r = 0.6, p = 0.24). Methylation in normal appearing colorectal mucosa from patients with multiple and solitary CRC showed no relevant difference in any evaluated gene.
These results provide a proof-of-concept that gene promoter methylation is associated with tumor multiplicity. This underlying epigenetic defect may have noteworthy implications in the prevention of patients with sporadic CRC.
PMCID: PMC2808250  PMID: 20098741
23.  Quantitative detection of multiple gene promoter hypermethylation in tumor tissue, serum, and cerebrospinal fluid predicts prognosis of malignant gliomas 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;12(6):540-548.
Aberrant promoter hypermethylation of several known or putative tumor suppressor genes occurs frequently during the malignant transformation in gliomas. We hypothesized that quantitative analysis of methylated genes will provide prognostic values in malignant glioma patients. We used an immunocapturing approach followed by real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis to detect altered patterns of promoter methylation in O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), p16INK4a, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 (TIMP-3), and thrombospondin 1 (THBS1). The tumor tissue and paired serum as well as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 66 patients with malignant gliomas were studied. Serum and CSF from 20 age-matched noncancer individuals were used as control. Promoter hypermethylation in MGMT, p16INK4a, TIMP-3, and THBS1 was detected at high frequencies in tumor tissue, serum, and CSF. None of the control serum or CSF showed aberrant methylation. Hypermethylation in serum and CSF DNA was all accompanied with methylation in the corresponding tumor tissues with 100% specificity. Highly elevated MGMT, p16INK4a, and THBS1 methylation levels in gliomas serum were the sole independent factors predicting inferior overall survival in this cohort. For progression-free survival, hypermethylation of MGMT and THBS1 in CSF were the independent prognostic factors. Multiple gene promoter hypermethylation analysis appears to be promising as a prognostic factor in glioma and as a mini-invasive tumor marker in serum and/or CSF DNA. Evaluation of these changes may help in selecting glioma patients for optimal adjuvant treatments and modifying chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2940650  PMID: 20154338
body fluids; epigenetic biomarker; glioma; prognosis; promoter methylation
24.  Gene Promoter Hypermethylation in Tumors and Plasma of Breast Cancer Patients 
To measure the hypermethylation of four genes in primary tumors and paired plasma samples to determine the feasibility of gene promoter hypermethylation markers for detecting breast cancer in the plasma.
Materials and Methods
DNA was extracted from the tumor tissues and peripheral blood plasma of 34 patients with invasive breast cancer, and the samples examined for aberrant hypermethylation in cyclin D2, retinoic acid receptor β (RARβ), twist and high in normal-1 (HIN-1) genes using methylation-specific PCR (MSP), and the results correlated with the clinicopathological parameters.
Promoter hypermethylation was detected at high frequency in the primary tumors for cyclin D2 (53%), RARβ (56%), twist (41%) and HIN-1 (77%). Thirty-three of the 34 (97%) primary tumors displayed promoter hypermethylation in at least one of the genes examined. The corresponding plasma samples showed hyperme thylation of the same genes, although at lower frequencies (6% for cyclin D2, 16% for RARβ, 36% for twist, and 54% for HIN-1). Overall, 22 of the 33 (67%) primary tumors with hypermethylation of at least one of the four genes also had abnormally hypermethylated DNA in their matched plasma samples. No significant relationship was recognized between any of the clinical or pathological parameters (tumor size, axillary lymph node metastasis, stage, or Ki-67 labeling index) with the frequency of hypermethylated DNA in the primary tumor or plasma.
The detection of aberrant promoter hypermethylation of cancer-related genes in the plasma may be a useful tool for the detection of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2785919  PMID: 19956520
Methylation; Plasma; Breast neoplasms
25.  Targeting the Epigenome in Lung Cancer: Expanding Approaches to Epigenetic Therapy 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:261.
Epigenetic aberrations offer dynamic and reversible targets for cancer therapy; increasingly, alteration via overexpression, mutation, or rearrangement is found in genes that control the epigenome. Such alterations suggest a fundamental role in carcinogenesis. Here, we consider three epigenetic mechanisms: DNA methylation, histone tail modification and non-coding, microRNA regulation. Evidence for each of these in lung cancer origin or progression has been gathered, along with evidence that epigenetic alterations might be useful in early detection. DNA hypermethylation of tumor suppressor promoters has been observed, along with global hypomethylation and hypoacetylation, suggesting an important role for tumor suppressor gene silencing. These features have been linked as prognostic markers with poor outcome in lung cancer. Several lines of evidence have also suggested a role for miRNA in carcinogenesis and in outcome. Cigarette smoke downregulates miR-487b, which targets both RAS and MYC; RAS is also a target of miR-let-7, again downregulated in lung cancer. Together the evidence implicates epigenetic aberration in lung cancer and suggests that targeting these aberrations should be carefully explored. To date, DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase inhibitors have had minimal clinical activity. Explanations include the possibility that the agents are not sufficiently potent to invoke epigenetic reversion to a more normal state; that insufficient time elapses in most clinical trials to observe true epigenetic reversion; and that doses often used may provoke off-target effects such as DNA damage that prevent epigenetic reversion. Combinations of epigenetic therapies may address those problems. When epigenetic agents are used in combination with chemotherapy or targeted therapy it is hoped that downstream biological effects will provoke synergistic cytotoxicity. This review evaluates the challenges of exploiting the epigenome in the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3793201  PMID: 24130964
epigenetics; non-small cell lung cancer; small-cell lung cancer; DNA methylation; histone modification; microRNA

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