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1.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Promoter Methylation in Lung Cancer Identifies Novel Methylation Markers for Multiple Malignancies  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e486.
Promoter hypermethylation coupled with loss of heterozygosity at the same locus results in loss of gene function in many tumor cells. The “rules” governing which genes are methylated during the pathogenesis of individual cancers, how specific methylation profiles are initially established, or what determines tumor type-specific methylation are unknown. However, DNA methylation markers that are highly specific and sensitive for common tumors would be useful for the early detection of cancer, and those required for the malignant phenotype would identify pathways important as therapeutic targets.
Methods and Findings
In an effort to identify new cancer-specific methylation markers, we employed a high-throughput global expression profiling approach in lung cancer cells. We identified 132 genes that have 5′ CpG islands, are induced from undetectable levels by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine in multiple non-small cell lung cancer cell lines, and are expressed in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells. As expected, these genes were also expressed in normal lung, but often not in companion primary lung cancers. Methylation analysis of a subset (45/132) of these promoter regions in primary lung cancer (n = 20) and adjacent nonmalignant tissue (n = 20) showed that 31 genes had acquired methylation in the tumors, but did not show methylation in normal lung or peripheral blood cells. We studied the eight most frequently and specifically methylated genes from our lung cancer dataset in breast cancer (n = 37), colon cancer (n = 24), and prostate cancer (n = 24) along with counterpart nonmalignant tissues. We found that seven loci were frequently methylated in both breast and lung cancers, with four showing extensive methylation in all four epithelial tumors.
By using a systematic biological screen we identified multiple genes that are methylated with high penetrance in primary lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancers. The cross-tumor methylation pattern we observed for these novel markers suggests that we have identified a partial promoter hypermethylation signature for these common malignancies. These data suggest that while tumors in different tissues vary substantially with respect to gene expression, there may be commonalities in their promoter methylation profiles that represent targets for early detection screening or therapeutic intervention.
John Minna and colleagues report that a group of genes are commonly methylated in primary lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Editors' Summary
Tumors or cancers contain cells that have lost many of the control mechanisms that normally regulate their behavior. Unlike normal cells, which only divide to repair damaged tissues, cancer cells divide uncontrollably. They also gain the ability to move round the body and start metastases in secondary locations. These changes in behavior result from alterations in their genetic material. For example, mutations (permanent changes in the sequence of nucleotides in the cell's DNA) in genes known as oncogenes stimulate cells to divide constantly. Mutations in another group of genes—tumor suppressor genes—disable their ability to restrain cell growth. Key tumor suppressor genes are often completely lost in cancer cells. But not all the genetic changes in cancer cells are mutations. Some are “epigenetic” changes—chemical modifications of genes that affect the amount of protein made from them. In cancer cells, methyl groups are often added to CG-rich regions—this is called hypermethylation. These “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters—sequences that control the transcription of DNA into RNA, the template for protein production—and their methylation switches off the promoter. Methylation of the promoter of one copy of a tumor suppressor gene, which often coincides with the loss of the other copy of the gene, is thought to be involved in cancer development.
Why Was This Study Done?
The rules that govern which genes are hypermethylated during the development of different cancer types are not known, but it would be useful to identify any DNA methylation events that occur regularly in common cancers for two reasons. First, specific DNA methylation markers might be useful for the early detection of cancer. Second, identifying these epigenetic changes might reveal cellular pathways that are changed during cancer development and so identify new therapeutic targets. In this study, the researchers have used a systematic biological screen to identify genes that are methylated in many lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancers—all cancers that form in “epithelial” tissues.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used microarray expression profiling to examine gene expression patterns in several lung cancer and normal lung cell lines. In this technique, labeled RNA molecules isolated from cells are applied to a “chip” carrying an array of gene fragments. Here, they stick to the fragment that represents the gene from which they were made, which allows the genes that the cells express to be catalogued. By comparing the expression profiles of lung cancer cells and normal lung cells before and after treatment with a chemical that inhibits DNA methylation, the researchers identified genes that were methylated in the cancer cells—that is, genes that were expressed in normal cells but not in cancer cells unless methylation was inhibited. 132 of these genes contained CpG islands. The researchers examined the promoters of 45 of these genes in lung cancer cells taken straight from patients and found that 31 of the promoters were methylated in tumor tissues but not in adjacent normal tissues. Finally, the researchers looked at promoter methylation of the eight genes most frequently and specifically methylated in the lung cancer samples in breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Seven of the genes were frequently methylated in both lung and breast cancers; four were extensively methylated in all the tumor types.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results identify several new genes that are often methylated in four types of epithelial tumor. The observation that these genes are methylated in multiple independent tumors strongly suggests, but does not prove, that loss of expression of the proteins that they encode helps to convert normal cells into cancer cells. The frequency and diverse patterning of promoter methylation in different tumor types also indicates that methylation is not a random event, although what controls the patterns of methylation is not yet known. The identification of these genes is a step toward building a promoter hypermethylation profile for the early detection of human cancer. Furthermore, although tumors in different tissues vary greatly with respect to gene expression patterns, the similarities seen in this study in promoter methylation profiles might help to identify new therapeutic targets common to several cancer types.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
US National Cancer Institute, information for patients on understanding cancer
CancerQuest, information provided by Emory University about how cancer develops
Cancer Research UK, information for patients on cancer biology
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence, background information and latest news about epigenetics
PMCID: PMC1716188  PMID: 17194187
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.  DNA methylation patterns in bladder cancer and washing cell sediments: a perspective for tumor recurrence detection 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:238.
Epigenetic alterations are a hallmark of human cancer. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether aberrant DNA methylation of cancer-associated genes is related to urinary bladder cancer recurrence.
A set of 4 genes, including CDH1 (E-cadherin), SFN (stratifin), RARB (retinoic acid receptor, beta) and RASSF1A (Ras association (RalGDS/AF-6) domain family 1), had their methylation patterns evaluated by MSP (Methylation-Specific Polymerase Chain Reaction) analysis in 49 fresh urinary bladder carcinoma tissues (including 14 cases paired with adjacent normal bladder epithelium, 3 squamous cell carcinomas and 2 adenocarcinomas) and 24 cell sediment samples from bladder washings of patients classified as cancer-free by cytological analysis (control group). A third set of samples included 39 archived tumor fragments and 23 matched washouts from 20 urinary bladder cancer patients in post-surgical monitoring. After genomic DNA isolation and sodium bisulfite modification, methylation patterns were determined and correlated with standard clinic-histopathological parameters.
CDH1 and SFN genes were methylated at high frequencies in bladder cancer as well as in paired normal adjacent tissue and exfoliated cells from cancer-free patients. Although no statistically significant differences were found between RARB and RASSF1A methylation and the clinical and histopathological parameters in bladder cancer, a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 71% were observed for RARB methylation (Fisher's Exact test (p < 0.0001; OR = 48.89) and, 58% and 17% (p < 0.05; OR = 0.29) for RASSF1A gene, respectively, in relation to the control group.
Indistinct DNA hypermethylation of CDH1 and SFN genes between tumoral and normal urinary bladder samples suggests that these epigenetic features are not suitable biomarkers for urinary bladder cancer. However, RARB and RASSF1A gene methylation appears to be an initial event in urinary bladder carcinogenesis and should be considered as defining a panel of differentially methylated genes in this neoplasia in order to maximize the diagnostic coverage of epigenetic markers, especially in studies aiming at early recurrence detection.
PMCID: PMC2527332  PMID: 18702824
4.  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
5.  Aberrant DNA Methylation of OLIG1, a Novel Prognostic Factor in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e108.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Currently, tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging provides the most accurate prognostic parameter for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the overall survival of patients with resectable tumors varies significantly, indicating the need for additional prognostic factors to better predict the outcome of the disease, particularly within a given TNM subset.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we investigated whether adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas could be differentiated based on their global aberrant DNA methylation patterns. We performed restriction landmark genomic scanning on 40 patient samples and identified 47 DNA methylation targets that together could distinguish the two lung cancer subgroups. The protein expression of one of those targets, oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1), significantly correlated with survival in NSCLC patients, as shown by univariate and multivariate analyses. Furthermore, the hazard ratio for patients negative for OLIG1 protein was significantly higher than the one for those patients expressing the protein, even at low levels.
Multivariate analyses of our data confirmed that OLIG1 protein expression significantly correlates with overall survival in NSCLC patients, with a relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval 0.77–0.91, p < 0.001) along with T and N stages, as indicated by a Cox proportional hazard model. Taken together, our results suggests that OLIG1 protein expression could be utilized as a novel prognostic factor, which could aid in deciding which NSCLC patients might benefit from more aggressive therapy. This is potentially of great significance, as the addition of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in T2N0 NSCLC patients is still controversial.
Christopher Plass and colleagues find thatOLIG1 expression correlates with survival in lung cancer patients and suggest that it could be used in deciding which patients are likely to benefit from more aggressive therapy.
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Like other cancers, treatment of NCSLC depends on the “TNM stage” at which the cancer is detected. Staging takes into account the size and local spread of the tumor (its T classification), whether nearby lymph nodes contain tumor cells (its N classification), and whether tumor cells have spread (metastasized) throughout the body (its M classification). Stage I tumors are confined to the lung and are removed surgically. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Stage III tumors have spread throughout the chest, and stage IV tumors have metastasized around the body; patients with both of these stages are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer, but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer, survive for five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
TNM staging is the best way to predict the likely outcome (prognosis) for patients with NSCLC, but survival times for patients with stage I and II tumors vary widely. Another prognostic marker—maybe a “molecular signature”—that could distinguish patients who are likely to respond to treatment from those whose cancer will inevitably progress would be very useful. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral changes are caused by alterations in the pattern of proteins expressed by the cells. But what causes these alterations? The answer in some cases is “epigenetic changes” or chemical modifications of genes. In cancer cells, methyl groups are aberrantly added to GC-rich gene regions. These so-called “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters (sequences that control the transcription of DNA into mRNA, the template for protein production), and their methylation stops the promoters working and silences the gene. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether aberrant methylation patterns vary between NSCLC subtypes and whether specific aberrant methylations are associated with survival and can, therefore, be used prognostically.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “restriction landmark genomic scanning” (RLGS) to catalog global aberrant DNA methylation patterns in human lung tumor samples. In RLGS, DNA is cut into fragments with a restriction enzyme (a protein that cuts at specific DNA sequences), end-labeled, and separated using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to give a pattern of spots. Because methylation stops some restriction enzymes cutting their target sequence, normal lung tissue and lung tumor samples yield different patterns of spots. The researchers used these patterns to identify 47 DNA methylation targets (many in CpG islands) that together distinguished between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major types of NSCLCs. Next, they measured mRNA production from the genes with the greatest difference in methylation between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. OLIG1 (the gene that encodes a protein involved in nerve cell development) had one of the highest differences in mRNA production between these tumor types. Furthermore, three-quarters of NSCLCs had reduced or no expression of OLIG1 protein and, when the researchers analyzed the association between OLIG1 protein expression and overall survival in patients with NSCLC, reduced OLIG1 protein expression was associated with reduced survival.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that different types of NSCLC can be distinguished by examining their aberrant methylation patterns. This suggests that the establishment of different DNA methylation patterns might be related to the cell type from which the tumors developed. Alternatively, the different aberrant methylation patterns might reflect the different routes that these cells take to becoming tumor cells. This research identifies a potential new prognostic marker for NSCLC by showing that OLIG1 protein expression correlates with overall survival in patients with NSCLC. This correlation needs to be tested in a clinical setting to see if adding OLIG1 expression to the current prognostic parameters can lead to better treatment choices for early-stage lung cancer patients and ultimately improve these patients' overall survival.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Patient and professional information on lung cancer, including staging (in English and Spanish), is available from the US National Cancer Institute
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on non-small cell lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancerbackup provides patient information on lung cancer
CancerQuest, provided by Emory University, has information about how cancer develops (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence gives background information and the latest news about epigenetics (in several European languages)
PMCID: PMC1831740  PMID: 17388669
6.  Differential DNA methylation profiles in gynecological cancers and correlation with clinico-pathological data 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:212.
Epigenetic gene silencing is one of the major causes of carcinogenesis. Its widespread occurrence in cancer genome could inactivate many cellular pathways including DNA repair, cell cycle control, apoptosis, cell adherence, and detoxification. The abnormal promoter methylation might be a potential molecular marker for cancer management.
For rapid identification of potential targets for aberrant methylation in gynecological cancers, methylation status of the CpG islands of 34 genes was determined using pooled DNA approach and methylation-specific PCR. Pooled DNA mixture from each cancer type (50 cervical cancers, 50 endometrial cancers and 50 ovarian cancers) was made to form three test samples. The corresponding normal DNA from the patients of each cancer type was also pooled to form the other three control samples. Methylated alleles detected in tumors, but not in normal controls, were indicative of aberrant methylation in tumors. Having identified potential markers, frequencies of methylation were further analyzed in individual samples. Markers identified are used to correlate with clinico-pathological data of tumors using χ2 or Fisher's exact test.
APC and p16 were hypermethylated across the three cancers. MINT31 and PTEN were hypermethylated in cervical and ovarian cancers. Specific methylation was found in cervical cancer (including CDH1, DAPK, MGMT and MINT2), endometrial cancer (CASP8, CDH13, hMLH1 and p73), and ovarian cancer (BRCA1, p14, p15, RIZ1 and TMS1). The frequencies of occurrence of hypermethylation in 4 candidate genes in individual samples of each cancer type (DAPK, MGMT, p16 and PTEN in 127 cervical cancers; APC, CDH13, hMLH1 and p16 in 60 endometrial cancers; and BRCA1, p14, p16 and PTEN in 49 ovarian cancers) were examined for further confirmation. Incidence varied among different genes and in different cancer types ranging from the lowest 8.2% (PTEN in ovarian cancer) to the highest 56.7% (DAPK in cervical cancer). Aberrant methylation for some genes (BRCA1, DAPK, hMLH1, MGMT, p14, p16, and PTEN) was also associated with clinico-pathological data.
Thus, differential methylation profiles occur in the three types of gynecologic cancer. Detection of methylation for critical loci is potentially useful as epigenetic markers in tumor classification. More studies using a much larger sample size are needed to define the potential role of DNA methylation as marker for cancer management.
PMCID: PMC1560388  PMID: 16928264
7.  Correlation between BRAF mutation and promoter methylation of TIMP3, RARβ2 and RASSF1A in thyroid cancer 
Epigenetics  2012;7(7):710-719.
Our aim was to comprehensively analyze promoter hypermethylation of a panel of novel and known methylation markers for thyroid neoplasms and to establish their relationship with BRAF mutation and clinicopathologic parameters of thyroid cancer. A cohort of thyroid tumors, consisting of 44 cancers and 44 benign thyroid lesions, as well as 15 samples of adjacent normal thyroid tissue, was evaluated for BRAF mutation and promoter hypermethylation. Genes for quantitative methylation specific PCR (QMSP) were selected by a candidate gene approach. Twenty-two genes were tested: TSHR, RASSF1A, RARβ2, DAPK, hMLH1, ATM, S100, p16, CTNNB1, GSTP1, CALCA, TIMP3, TGFßR2, THBS1, MINT1, CTNNB1, MT1G, PAK3, NISCH, DCC, AIM1 and KIF1A. The PCR-based “mutector assay” was used to detect BRAF mutation. All p values reported are two sided. Considerable overlap was seen in the methylation markers among the different tissue groups. Significantly higher methylation frequency and level were observed for KIF1A and RARß2 in cancer samples compared with benign tumors. A negative correlation between BRAF mutation and RASSF1A methylation, and a positive correlation with RARß2 methylation were observed in accordance with previous results. In addition, positive correlation with TIMP3 and a marginal correlation with DCC methylation were observed. The present study constitutes a comprehensive promoter methylation profile of thyroid neoplasia and shows that results must be analyzed in a tissue-specific manner to identify clinically useful methylation markers. Integration of genetic and epigenetic changes in thyroid cancer will help identify relevant biologic pathways that drive its development.
PMCID: PMC3414391  PMID: 22694820
BRAF; RARβ2; RASSF1A; TIMP3; biomarkers; hypermethylation; thyroid cancer; thyroid tissue
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  Promoter hypermethylation in Indian primary oral squamous cell carcinoma 
We evaluated promoter hypermethylation of a panel of tumor suppressor genes as a means to detect epigenetic alterations in oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) of Indian-origin and compare with North-American head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Quantitative-methylation-specific PCR was used to investigate the promoter methylation status of DCC, EDNRB, p16INK4a and KIF1A in 92 OSCC, and compared to 48 paired normal tissues and 30 saliva and sera samples from healthy control subjects. Aberrant methylation of at-least one of these genes was detected in 74/92 (80.4%) OSCC; 72.8% at EDNRB, 71.7% at KIF1A, 47.8% at p16INK4a and 58.7% at DCC; and in 5 of 48 (10.4%) normal oral tissues. None of the saliva and sera samples from controls exhibited DNA methylation in these four target genes. Thirty-two of 72 node positive cases harbored p16INK4a and DCC hypermethylation (p = 0.005). Thus, promoter hypermethylation in genes analyzed herein is a common event in Indian OSCC and may represent promising markers for the molecular staging of OSCC patients. We found higher frequency of p16INK4a methylation (47.8%) in this Indian cohort in comparison with a North-American cohort (37.5%). In conclusion, aberrant methylation of EDNRB, KIF1A, DCC and p16INK4a genes is a common event in Indian OSCC, suggesting that epigenetic alterations of these genes warrant validation in larger studies for their potential use as biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC2946507  PMID: 20473870
hypermethylation; EDNRB; KIF1A; OSCC; p16INK4a; DCC; nodal metastasis
12.  Identification of a panel of sensitive and specific DNA methylation markers for lung adenocarcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2007;6:70.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both men and women in the United States. Three quarters of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with regionally or distantly disseminated disease; their 5-year survival is only 15%. DNA hypermethylation at promoter CpG islands shows great promise as a cancer-specific marker that would complement visual lung cancer screening tools such as spiral CT, improving early detection. In lung cancer patients, such hypermethylation is detectable in a variety of samples ranging from tumor material to blood and sputum. To date the penetrance of DNA methylation at any single locus has been too low to provide great clinical sensitivity. We used the real-time PCR-based method MethyLight to examine DNA methylation quantitatively at twenty-eight loci in 51 primary human lung adenocarcinomas, 38 adjacent non-tumor lung samples, and 11 lung samples from non-lung cancer patients.
We identified thirteen loci showing significant differential DNA methylation levels between tumor and non-tumor lung; eight of these show highly significant hypermethylation in adenocarcinoma: CDH13, CDKN2A EX2, CDX2, HOXA1, OPCML, RASSF1, SFPR1, and TWIST1 (p-value << 0.0001). Using the current tissue collection and 5-fold cross validation, the four most significant loci (CDKN2A EX2, CDX2, HOXA1 and OPCML) individually distinguish lung adenocarcinoma from non-cancer lung with a sensitivity of 67–86% and specificity of 74–82%. DNA methylation of these loci did not differ significantly based on gender, race, age or tumor stage, indicating their wide applicability as potential lung adenocarcinoma markers. We applied random forests to determine a good classifier based on a subset of our loci and determined that combined use of the same four top markers allows identification of lung cancer tissue from non-lung cancer tissue with 94% sensitivity and 90% specificity.
The identification of eight CpG island loci showing highly significant hypermethylation in lung adenocarcinoma provides strong candidates for evaluation in patient remote media such as plasma and sputum. The four most highly ranked loci, CDKN2A EX2, CDX2, HOXA1 and OPCML, which show significant DNA methylation even in stage IA tumor samples, merit further investigation as some of the most promising lung adenocarcinoma markers identified to date.
PMCID: PMC2206053  PMID: 17967182
13.  Aberrant methylation of RASSF1A in plasma DNA prior to breast cancer diagnosis in the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
In addition to classical genetic mechanisms such as deletions and mutations, growth regulatory genes can be inactivated via methylation of cytosine-residues in their promoter regions. Hypermethylation of promoter CpG islands is now recognized as an important and early event in carcinogenesis. Detection of methylated DNA in serum or plasma has been suggested to be a marker for early cancer development. We examined methylation changes in RASSF1A, a growth regulatory gene in plasma DNA from blood collected prior to diagnosis from women with breast cancer and from controls. Samples were from two sets of subjects, 28 women with breast cancer and 10 of their unaffected siblings and 33 women with breast cancer and 29 age-ethnicity matched population-based controls. Using methylation specific PCR, we found 11/61 (18%) cases were positive for methylation of RASSF1A in their plasma DNA collected prior to diagnosis. Two of 10 healthy high risk sibling controls (20%) had plasma DNA positive for RASSF1A methylation in their plasma DNA compared to 0/29 (0%) population-based controls. Tumor tissue was available for 12 cases and all were positive for RASSF1A methylation. These results, if replicated, suggest that aberrant promoter hypermethylation in serum/plasma DNA may be common among high-risk women and may be present years before cancer diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3791602  PMID: 19755643
RASSF1A genes methylation; breast cancer; inherited early events
14.  Methylated APC and GSTP1 genes in serum DNA correlate with the presence of circulating blood tumor cells and are associated with a more aggressive and advanced breast cancer disease 
Tumor-related methylated DNA and circulating tumor cells (CTC) in the peripheral blood might be of prognostic importance in breast cancer. Thus, the aim of our study was to examine free methylated DNA and CTC in the blood from breast cancer patients and to correlate it with clinicopathological features known to influence prognosis.
Materials and methods
We prospectively obtained serum samples from 85 patients with breast cancer and 22 healthy volunteers. Sera were analysed by methylation specific PCR (MethyLight PCR) for five genes: adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), ras association domain family protein 1A (RASSF1A), estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1), CDKN2A (p16) and glutathione s-transferase pi 1 (GSTP1). Beta actin (ACTB) served as control. In parallel matched peripheral blood of 63 patients was used to assay for circulating tumor cells in the peripheral blood by a modified immunomagnetic AdnaTest BreastCancerSelect with PCR detection for EPCAM, MUC1, MGB1 and SPDEF.
We found a hypermethylation in the APC gene in 29% (25/85), in RASSF1A in 26% (22/85), in GSTP1 in 18% (14/76) and in ESR1 in 38% (32/85) of all breast cancer patients. No hypermethylation of CDKN2A was found (0/25). Blood samples of patients were defined CTC positive by detecting the EPCAM 13% (8/63), MUC1 16% (10/63), MGB 9% (5/55), SPDEF 12% (7/58) and in 27% detecting one or more genes (15/55). A significant difference was seen in methylated APC DNA between cancer patients and healthy volunteers. Moreover, methylated APC, RASSF1 and CTC were significantly different in metastatic versus non-metastatic disease. In addition, the presence of methylated APC, RASSF1A and CTC correlated significantly with AJCC-staging (p = 0.001, p = 0.031 and 0.002, respectively). High incidences of methylations were found for the genes RASSF1 and ESR1 in healthy individuals (both 23% 5/22). Methylated GSTP1 was predominantly found in the serum of patients with large primaries (p = 0.023) and was highly significantly correlated with positive Her2/neu status (p = 0.003). Elevated serum CA15.3 was strongly correlated with methylated APC and CTC detection (both p = 0.000). Methylated ESR1 failed to exhibit significant correlations with any of the above mentioned parameters. The presence of CTC in peripheral blood was significantly associated with methylated APC (p = 0.012) and methylated GSTP1 (p = 0.001).
The detection of methylated APC and GSTP1 DNA in serum correlated with the presence of CTC in the blood of breast cancer patients. Both methylated DNA and CTC correlated with a more aggressive tumor biology and advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC3351951  PMID: 20696638
methylated genes; circulating tumor cells; circulating DNA; breast cancer
15.  DNA methylation in thyroid tumorigenesis 
Cancers  2011;3(2):1732-1743.
Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer with 1,690 deaths each year. There are four main types of which the papillary and follicular types together account for >90% followed by medullary cancers with 3% to 5% and anaplastic carcinomas making up <3%. Epigenetic events of DNA hypermethylation are emerging as promising molecular targets for cancer detection. Our immediate and long term goal is to identify DNA methylation markers for early detection of thyroid cancer. This pilot study comprised of 21 patients to include 11 papillary thyroid cancers (PTC), 2 follicular thyroid cancers (FTC), 5 normal thyroid cases, and 3 hyperthyroid cases. Aberrant promoter methylation was examined in 24 tumor suppressor genes using the methylation specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) assay and in the NIS gene using methylation-specific PCR (MSP). The frequently methylated genes were CASP8 (17/21), RASSF1 (16/21) and NIS (9/21). In the normal samples, CASP8, RASSF1 and NIS were methylated in 5/5, 4/5 and 1/5 respectively. In the hyperthyroid samples, CASP8, RASSF1 and NIS were methylated in 3/3, 2/3 and 1/3 respectively. In the thyroid cancers, CASP8, RASSF1, and NIS were methylated in 9/13, 10/13, and 7/13 respectively. CASP8, RASSF1 and NIS were also methylated in concurrently present normal thyroid tissue in 3/11, 4/11 and 3/11 matched thyroid cancer cases (matched for presence of both normal thyroid tissue and thyroid cancer), respectively. Our data suggests that aberrant methylation of CASP8, RASSF1, and NIS maybe an early change in thyroid tumorigenesis regardless of cell type.
PMCID: PMC3129708  PMID: 21738852
Papillary thyroid cancer; Follicular thyroid cancer; hypermethylation; NIS; CASP8; RASSF1
16.  DNA Methylation in Thyroid Tumorigenesis 
Cancers  2011;3(2):1732-1743.
Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer with 1,690 deaths each year. There are four main types of which the papillary and follicular types together account for >90% followed by medullary cancers with 3% to 5% and anaplastic carcinomas making up <3%. Epigenetic events of DNA hypermethylation are emerging as promising molecular targets for cancer detection. Our immediate and long term goal is to identify DNA methylation markers for early detection of thyroid cancer. This pilot study comprised of 21 patients to include 11 papillary thyroid cancers (PTC), 2 follicular thyroid cancers (FTC), 5 normal thyroid cases, and 3 hyperthyroid cases. Aberrant promoter methylation was examined in 24 tumor suppressor genes using the methylation specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) assay and in the NIS gene using methylation-specific PCR (MSP). The frequently methylated genes were CASP8 (17/21), RASSF1 (16/21) and NIS (9/21). In the normal samples, CASP8, RASSF1 and NIS were methylated in 5/5, 4/5 and 1/5 respectively. In the hyperthyroid samples, CASP8, RASSF1 and NIS were methylated in 3/3, 2/3 and 1/3 respectively. In the thyroid cancers, CASP8, RASSF1, and NIS were methylated in 9/13, 10/13, and 7/13 respectively. CASP8, RASSF1 and NIS were also methylated in concurrently present normal thyroid tissue in 3/11, 4/11 and 3/11 matched thyroid cancer cases (matched for presence of both normal thyroid tissue and thyroid cancer), respectively. Our data suggests that aberrant methylation of CASP8, RASSF1, and NIS maybe an early change in thyroid tumorigenesis regardless of cell type.
PMCID: PMC3129708  PMID: 21738852
papillary thyroid cancer; follicular thyroid cancer; hypermethylation; NIS; CASP8; RASSF1
17.  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
18.  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
19.  Quantitative promoter methylation analysis of multiple cancer-related genes in renal cell tumors 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:133.
Aberrant promoter hypermethylation of cancer-associated genes occurs frequently during carcinogenesis and may serve as a cancer biomarker. In this study we aimed at defining a quantitative gene promoter methylation panel that might identify the most prevalent types of renal cell tumors.
A panel of 18 gene promoters was assessed by quantitative methylation-specific PCR (QMSP) in 85 primarily resected renal tumors representing the four major histologic subtypes (52 clear cell (ccRCC), 13 papillary (pRCC), 10 chromophobe (chRCC), and 10 oncocytomas) and 62 paired normal tissue samples. After genomic DNA isolation and sodium bisulfite modification, methylation levels were determined and correlated with standard clinicopathological parameters.
Significant differences in methylation levels among the four subtypes of renal tumors were found for CDH1 (p = 0.0007), PTGS2 (p = 0.002), and RASSF1A (p = 0.0001). CDH1 hypermethylation levels were significantly higher in ccRCC compared to chRCC and oncocytoma (p = 0.00016 and p = 0.0034, respectively), whereas PTGS2 methylation levels were significantly higher in ccRCC compared to pRCC (p = 0.004). RASSF1A methylation levels were significantly higher in pRCC than in normal tissue (p = 0.035). In pRCC, CDH1 and RASSF1A methylation levels were inversely correlated with tumor stage (p = 0.031) and nuclear grade (p = 0.022), respectively.
The major subtypes of renal epithelial neoplasms display differential aberrant CDH1, PTGS2, and RASSF1A promoter methylation levels. This gene panel might contribute to a more accurate discrimination among common renal tumors, improving preoperative assessment and therapeutic decision-making in patients harboring suspicious renal masses.
PMCID: PMC1940017  PMID: 17645803
20.  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
21.  Comparative analysis of promoter methylation and gene expression endpoints between tumorous and non-tumorous tissues from HCV-positive patients with hepatocellular carcinoma 
Mutation research  2010;692(1-2):26-33.
Transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes and other cancer-related genes induced by promoter CpG island hypermethylation is an important epigenetic mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis. Previous studies have established methylation profiles of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and demonstrated that methylation of several candidate genes in resected tissues may be associated with time to recurrence. The goals of our study were to test whether specific promoter methylation and mRNA levels of candidate genes, as well as global changes in DNA methylation, can be linked with time to recurrence and clinicopathological variables in a homogenous study group of HCC patients. Forty-three tumorous and 45 non-tumorous liver tissue samples from the surgical margin were obtained from HCV-positive, HBV-negative HCC patients who underwent tumor resection surgery and who were monitored for tumor recurrence thereafter (median follow-up time: 16 months (range, 0 – 79 months)). Methylation-specific PCR was used to assess the promoter methylation status of P16(INK4a), SOCS-1, RASSF1A, APC, GSTP1, RIZ1, and MGMT genes, while the level of LINE-1 methylation was used as marker of global DNA methylation levels. Methylation frequencies in P16(INK4a), RASSF1A, APC, GSTP1, and RIZ1 genes were significantly greater in tumorous versus non-tumorous tissues. Methylation of RIZ1 in non-tumorous tissues was significantly associated with time to recurrence. Additionally, genomic DNA was significantly more hypomethylated in tumorous tissues, and this change was associated with shorter recurrence, but not with clinicopathological features. In conclusion, this study supports the role of aberrant methylation in the pathobiology of HCV-positive HCCs. The finding that RIZ1 methylation and increased levels of LINE-1 hypomethylation in non-tumorous tissues are associated with time to recurrence underscores the importance of assessing the epigenetic state of the liver remnant.
PMCID: PMC2948626  PMID: 20736025
hepatocellular carcinoma; epigenetics; time to recurrence
22.  Relationship between Tumor DNA Methylation Status and Patient Characteristics in African-American and European-American Women with Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37928.
Aberrant DNA methylation is critical for development and progression of breast cancer. We investigated the association of CpG island methylation in candidate genes and clinicopathological features in 65 African-American (AA) and European-American (EA) breast cancer patients. Quantitative methylation analysis was carried out on bisulfite modified genomic DNA and sequencing (pyrosequencing) for promoter CpG islands of p16, ESR1, RASSF1A, RARβ2, CDH13, HIN1, SFRP1 genes and the LINE1 repetitive element using matched paired non-cancerous and breast tumor specimen (32 AA and 33 EA women). Five of the genes, all known tumor suppressor genes (RASSF1A, RARβ2, CDH13, HIN1 and SFRP1), were found to be frequently hypermethylated in breast tumor tissues but not in the adjacent non-cancerous tissues. Significant differences in the CDH13 methylation status were observed by comparing DNA methylation between AA and EA patients, with more obvious CDH13 methylation differences between the two patient groups in the ER- disease and among young patients (age<50). In addition, we observed associations between CDH13, SFRP1, and RASSF1A methylation and breast cancer subtypes and between SFRP1 methylation and patient's age. Furthermore, tumors that received neoadjuvant therapy tended to have reduced RASSF1A methylation when compared with chemotherapy naïve tumors. Finally, Kaplan Meier survival analysis showed a significant association between methylation at 3 loci (RASSF1A, RARβ2 and CDH13) and reduced overall disease survival. In conclusion, the DNA methylation status of breast tumors was found to be significantly associated with clinicopathological features and race/ethnicity of the patients.
PMCID: PMC3365111  PMID: 22701537
23.  DNA methylation biomarkers offer improved diagnostic efficiency in lung cancer 
Cancer research  2012;72(22):5692-5701.
The exceptional high mortality of lung cancer can be instigated to a high degree by late diagnosis. Despite the plethora of studies on potential molecular biomarkers for lung cancer diagnosis, very few have reached clinical implementation. In this study we developed a panel of DNA methylation biomarkers and validated their diagnostic efficiency in bronchial washings from a large retrospective cohort. Candidate targets from previous high-throughput approaches were examined by Pyrosequencing in an independent set of 48 lung tumor/normal paired. Ten promoters were selected and quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP) assays were developed and used to screen 655 bronchial washings (BWs) from the Liverpool Lung Project (LLP) subjects divided into training (194 cases and 214 Controls) and validation (139 cases and 109 controls) sets. Three statistical models were employed to select the optimal panel of markers and evaluate the performance of the discriminatory algorithms. The final logit regression model incorporated hypermethylation at p16, TERT, WT1 and RASSF1.The performance of this 4-gene methylation signature in the validation set demonstrated 82% sensitivity and 91% specificity. In comparison, cytology alone in this set provided 43% sensitivity at 100% specificity. The diagnostic efficiency of the panel did not show any biases with age, gender, smoking and the presence of a non-lung neoplasm. However, sensitivity was predictably higher in central (squamous and small cell) than peripheral (adenocarcinomas) tumors, as well as in stage 2 or greater tumors.These findings clearly demonstrate the impact of DNA methylation-based assays in the diagnosis of cytologically occult lung neoplasms. A prospective trial is currently imminent in the LLP study to provide data on the enhancement of diagnostic accuracy in a clinical setting, including by additional markers.
PMCID: PMC3500566  PMID: 22962272
24.  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
25.  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

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