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1.  Frequent promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and CASP8 in neuroblastoma 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:254.
Epigenetic alterations and loss of heterozygosity are mechanisms of tumor suppressor gene inactivation. A new carcinogenic pathway, targeting the RAS effectors has recently been documented. RASSF1A, on 3p21.3, and NORE1A, on 1q32.1, are among the most important, representative RAS effectors.
We screened the 3p21 locus for the loss of heterozygosity and the hypermethylation status of RASSF1A, NORE1A and BLU (the latter located at 3p21.3) in 41 neuroblastic tumors. The statistical relationship of these data was correlated with CASP8 hypermethylation. The expression levels of these genes, in cell lines, were analyzed by RT-PCR.
Loss of heterozygosity and microsatellite instability at 3p21 were detected in 14% of the analyzed tumors. Methylation was different for tumors and cell lines (tumors: 83% in RASSF1A, 3% in NORE1A, 8% in BLU and 60% in CASP8; cell lines: 100% in RASSF1A, 50% in NORE1A, 66% in BLU and 92% in CASP8). In cell lines, a correlation with lack of expression was evident for RASSF1A, but less clear for NORE1A, BLU and CASP8. We could only demonstrate a statistically significant association between hypermethylation of RASSF1A and hypermethylation of CASP8, while no association with MYCN amplification, 1p deletion, and/or aggressive histological pattern of the tumor was demonstrated.
1) LOH at 3p21 appears in a small percentage of neuroblastomas, indicating that a candidate tumor suppressor gene of neuroblastic tumors is not located in this region.
2) Promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and CASP8 occurs at a high frequency in neuroblastomas.
PMCID: PMC1634754  PMID: 17064406
2.  Acquired hypermethylation of the P16INK4A promoter in abdominal paraganglioma: relation to adverse tumor phenotype and predisposing mutation 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2013;20(1):65-78.
Recurrent alterations in promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) and LINE1 (L1RE1) repeat elements were previously reported in pheochromocytoma and abdominal paraganglioma. This study was undertaken to explore CpG methylation abnormalities in an extended tumor panel and assess possible relationships between metastatic disease and mutation status. CpG methylation was quantified by bisulfite pyrosequencing for selected TSG promoters and LINE1 repeats. Methylation indices above normal reference were observed for DCR2 (TNFRSF10D), CDH1, P16 (CDKN2A), RARB, and RASSF1A. Z-scores for overall TSG, and individual TSG methylation levels, but not LINE1, were significantly correlated with metastatic disease, paraganglioma, disease predisposition, or outcome. Most strikingly, P16 hypermethylation was strongly associated with SDHB mutation as opposed to RET/MEN2, VHL/VHL, or NF1-related disease. Parallel analyses of constitutional, tumor, and metastasis DNA implicate an order of events where constitutional SDHB mutations are followed by TSG hypermethylation and 1p loss in primary tumors, later transferred to metastatic tissue. In the combined material, P16 hypermethylation was prevalent in SDHB-mutated samples and was associated with short disease-related survival. The findings verify the previously reported importance of P16 and other TSG hypermethylation in an independent tumor series. Furthermore, a constitutional SDHB mutation is proposed to predispose for an epigenetic tumor phenotype occurring before the emanation of clinically recognized malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3573842  PMID: 23154831
Molecular genetics; Gene regulation; Metastasis; Adrenal medulla; Endocrine therapy
3.  Profiling epigenetic inactivation of tumor suppressor genes in tumors and plasma from cutaneous melanoma patients 
Oncogene  2004;23(22):4014-4022.
Aberrant methylation of CpG islands in promoter regions of tumor suppressor genes (TSG) has been demonstrated in epithelial origin tumors. However, the methylation profiling of tumor-related gene promoter regions in cutaneous melanoma tumors has not been reported. Seven known or candidate TSGs that are frequently hyper-methylated in carcinomas were assessed by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) in 15 melanoma cell lines and 130 cutaneous melanoma tumors. Four TSGs were frequently hypermethylated in 86 metastatic tumor specimens: retinoic acid receptor-β2 (RAR-β2) (70%), RAS association domain family protein 1A (RASSF1A) (57%), and O6-methylguanine DNA methy-latransferase (MGMT) (34%), and death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) (19%). Hypermethylation of MGMT, RASSF1A, and DAPK was significantly lower in primary melanomas (n = 20) compared to metastatic melanomas. However, hypermethylation of RAR-β2 was 70% in both primary and metastatic melanomas. Cell lines had hypermethylation profiles similar to those of metastatic melanomas. The analysis of these four markers of metastatic tumors demonstrated that 97% had ≥1 gene(s) and 59% had ≥2 genes hypermethylated. The methylation of genes was verified by bisulfite sequencing. The mRNA transcripts could be re-expressed in melanoma cell lines having hypermethylated genes following treatment with 5′-aza 2′-deoxycytidine (5Aza-dC). Analysis of melanoma patients’ plasma (preoperative blood; n = 31) demonstrated circulating hypermethylated MGMT, RAR-β2, and RASSF1A DNA for at least one of the markers in 29% of the patients. Our findings indicate that the incidence of TSG hypermethylation increases during tumor progression. Methylation of TSG may play a significant role in cutaneous melanoma progression.
PMCID: PMC2856469  PMID: 15064737
MGMT; RAR-β2; RASSF1A; methylation; melanoma
4.  Distinct Epigenetic Domains Separated by a CTCF Bound Insulator between the Tandem Genes, BLU and RASSF1A 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12847.
Tumor suppressor gene (TSG) RASSF1A and candidate TSG BLU are two tandem head-to-tail genes located at 3p21.3. We hypothesized that there may be a concordance on their gene expression and promoter methylation status. If not, then there may be an insulator located between RASSF1A and BLU genes that provides a barrier activity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We first identified potential transcriptionally important CpG sites using the methylation-specific oligonucleotide array in relation to mRNA expression of RASSF1A and BLU genes in primary lung tumors. We demonstrated that E2F1 bound to the potential transcriptionally important CpG sites in RASSF1A gene of a normal lung cell line expressing RASSF1A transcripts, whereas loss of E2F1 binding to RASSF1A in A549 cancer cell line was the result of DNA methylation. Both RASSF1A and BLU genes had their own potential transcriptionally important CpG regions. However, there was no correlation of methylation status between RASSF1A and BLU. Using gel shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR (ChIP-PCR), we found that CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) bound to insulator sequences located between these two genes. Bisulfite sequencing and ChIP-PCR revealed distinct methylation and chromatin boundaries separated by the CTCF binding domains in normal cells, whereas such distinct epigenetic domains were not observed in cancer cells. Note that demethylation reagent and histone deacetylase inhibitor treatments led to CTCF binding and recovery of barrier effect for RASSF1A and BLU genes in cancer cells.
Our study dissects the potential transcriptionally important CpG sites for RASSF1A and BLU genes at the sequence level and demonstrates that CTCF binding to the insulator of BLU gene provides a barrier activity within separate epigenetic domains of the juxtaposed BLU and RASSF1A loci in the 3p21.3 gene cluster region.
PMCID: PMC2942851  PMID: 20877461
5.  Promoter methylation of MGMT, MLH1 and RASSF1A tumor suppressor genes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: Pharmacological genome demethylation reduces proliferation of head and neck squamous carcinoma cells 
Oncology Reports  2012;27(4):1135-1141.
Promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) is a common feature of primary cancer cells. However, to date the somatic epigenetic events that occur in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) tumorigenesis have not been well-defined. In the present study, we analyzed the promoter methylation status of the genes mutL homolog 1 (MLH1), Ras-association domain family member 1 (RASSF1A) and O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) in 23 HNSCC samples, three control tissues and one HNSCC cell line (UM-SCC 33) using methylation-specific PCR (MSP). The expression of the three proteins was quantified by semi-quantitative immunohistochemical analysis. The cell line was treated with the demethylating agent 5-azacytidine (5-Aza) and the methylation status after 5-Aza treatment was analyzed by MSP and DNA sequencing. Proliferation was determined by Alamar blue staining. We found that the MGMT promoter in 57% of the analyzed primary tumor samples and in the cell line was hypermethylated. The MLH promoter was found to be methylated in one out of 23 (4%) tumor samples while in the examined cell line the MLH promoter was unmethylated. The RASSF1A promoter showed methylation in 13% of the tumor samples and in the cell line. MGMT expression in the group of tumor samples with a hypermethylated promoter was statistically significantly lower compared to the group of tumors with no measured hypermethylation of the MGMT promoter. After treatment of the cell line with the demethylating agent 5-Aza no demethylation of the methylated MGMT and RASSF1A genes were determined by MSP. DNA sequencing verified the MSP results, however, increased numbers of unmethylated CpG islands in the promoter region of MGMT and RASSF1A were observed. Proliferation was significantly (p<0.05) reduced after treatment with 5-Aza. In summary, we have shown promoter hypermethylation of the tumor suppressor genes MGMT and RASSF1A in HNSCC, suggesting that this epigenetic inactivation of TSGs may play a role in the development of HNSCC. 5-Aza application resulted in partial demethylation of the MGMT and RASSF1A TSGs and reduced proliferation of the tumor cells suggesting further evaluation of 5-Aza for HNSCC treatment.
PMCID: PMC3583513  PMID: 22246327
O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase; mutL homolog 1; Ras association domain family member 1; tumor suppressor gene; head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; 5-azacytidine
6.  Epigenetic regulation of CD44 in Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:517.
Epigenetic inactivation of tumor suppressor genes (TSG) by promoter CpG island hypermethylation is a hallmark of cancer. To assay its extent in human lymphoma, methylation of 24 TSG was analyzed in lymphoma-derived cell lines as well as in patient samples.
We screened for TSG methylation using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) in 40 lymphoma-derived cell lines representing anaplastic large cell lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma (BL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), follicular lymphoma (FL), Hodgkin lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) as well as in 50 primary lymphoma samples. The methylation status of differentially methylated CD44 was verified by methylation-specific PCR and bisulfite sequencing. Gene expression of CD44 and its reactivation by DNA demethylation was determined by quantitative real-time PCR and on the protein level by flow cytometry. Induction of apoptosis by anti-CD44 antibody was analyzed by annexin-V/PI staining and flow cytometry.
On average 8 ± 2.8 of 24 TSG were methylated per lymphoma cell line and 2.4 ± 2 of 24 TSG in primary lymphomas, whereas 0/24 TSG were methylated in tonsils and blood mononuclear cells from healthy donors. Notably, we identified that CD44 was hypermethylated and transcriptionally silenced in all BL and most FL and DLBCL cell lines, but was usually unmethylated and expressed in MCL cell lines. Concordant results were obtained from primary lymphoma material: CD44 was not methylated in MCL patients (0/11) whereas CD44 was frequently hypermethylated in BL patients (18/29). In cell lines with CD44 hypermethylation, expression was re-inducible at mRNA and protein levels by treatment with the DNA demethylating agent 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine, confirming epigenetic regulation of CD44. CD44 ligation assays with a monoclonal anti-CD44 antibody showed that CD44 can mediate apoptosis in CD44+ lymphoma cells. CD44 hypermethylated, CD44- lymphoma cell lines were consistently resistant towards anti-CD44 induced apoptosis.
Our data show that CD44 is epigenetically regulated in lymphoma and undergoes de novo methylation in distinct lymphoma subtypes like BL. Thus CD44 may be a promising new epigenetic marker for diagnosis and a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of specific lymphoma subtypes.
PMCID: PMC2955612  PMID: 20920234
7.  Quantification of Regional DNA Methylation by Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry 
Analytical biochemistry  2009;391(2):106-113.
Promoter hypermethylation associated tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) silencing has been explored as a therapeutic target for hypomethylating agents. Promoter methylation change may serve as a pharmacodynamic endpoint for evaluation of the efficacy of these agents and predict the patient’s clinical response. Herein, a LC-MS/MS assay has been developed for quantitative regional DNA methylation analysis using the molar ratio of 5-methyl-2′-deoxycytidine (5mdC) to 2′-deoxycytidine (2dC) in the enzymatic hydrolysate of fully methylated bisulfite-converted PCR amplicons as the methylation indicator. The assay can differentiate 5% of promoter methylation level with an intra-day precision ranging from 3.00 to 16.0% using two TSGs: HIN-1 and RASSF1A. This method was applied to characterize decitabine-induced promoter DNA methylation changes of these two TSGs in a breast cancer MCF-7 cell line. Promoter methylation of these TSGs was found to decrease in a dose-dependent manner. Correspondingly, the expression of these TSGs was enhanced. The sensitivity and reproducibility of the method make it a valuable tool for specific gene methylation analysis, which could aid characterization of hypomethylating activity on specific genes by hypomethylating agents in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC3939067  PMID: 19442645
Regional DNA Methylation; LC-MS/MS; Quantification
8.  Inhibition of SIRT1 Reactivates Silenced Cancer Genes without Loss of Promoter DNA Hypermethylation 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(3):e40.
The class III histone deactylase (HDAC), SIRT1, has cancer relevance because it regulates lifespan in multiple organisms, down-regulates p53 function through deacetylation, and is linked to polycomb gene silencing in Drosophila. However, it has not been reported to mediate heterochromatin formation or heritable silencing for endogenous mammalian genes. Herein, we show that SIRT1 localizes to promoters of several aberrantly silenced tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) in which 5′ CpG islands are densely hypermethylated, but not to these same promoters in cell lines in which the promoters are not hypermethylated and the genes are expressed. Heretofore, only type I and II HDACs, through deactylation of lysines 9 and 14 of histone H3 (H3-K9 and H3-K14, respectively), had been tied to the above TSG silencing. However, inhibition of these enzymes alone fails to re-activate the genes unless DNA methylation is first inhibited. In contrast, inhibition of SIRT1 by pharmacologic, dominant negative, and siRNA (small interfering RNA)–mediated inhibition in breast and colon cancer cells causes increased H4-K16 and H3-K9 acetylation at endogenous promoters and gene re-expression despite full retention of promoter DNA hypermethylation. Furthermore, SIRT1 inhibition affects key phenotypic aspects of cancer cells. We thus have identified a new component of epigenetic TSG silencing that may potentially link some epigenetic changes associated with aging with those found in cancer, and provide new directions for therapeutically targeting these important genes for re-expression.
The propensity for cancer to arise and progress is influenced not only by gene mutations (genetic abnormalities), but also by defects in gene expression programs that are inherited from one dividing cell to another. This change in the inheritance of gene expression patterns not associated with changes in the primary DNA sequence is referred to as an epigenetic abnormality. In virtually every form of cancer, tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) and candidate TSGs are epigenetically altered such that the ability of these genes to become activated and lead to production of the corresponding proteins is lost. This so-called gene “silencing” is often linked with abnormal accumulation of methyl groups to DNA (DNA methylation) in a region of the gene that controls its expression. The SIRT1 protein is an enzyme that can remove acetyl groups attached to specific amino acids in a number of different protein targets and thereby regulate gene silencing in yeast. However, in mammalian cells this has not been demonstrated. Here, the authors show SIRT1 is involved in epigenetic silencing of DNA-hypermethylated TSGs in cancer cells. Inhibition of SIRT1 by multiple approaches leads to TSG re-expression and a block in tumor-causing networks of cell signaling that are activated by loss of the TSGs in a wide range of cancers. This finding has important ramifications for the biology of cancer in terms of what maintains abnormal gene silencing. Furthermore, the authors propose that their observations may have potential clinical relevance in suggesting new means for restoring expression of abnormally silenced genes in cancer.
PMCID: PMC1420676  PMID: 16596166
9.  Hypomethylation and expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 indicative of MLL translocations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:86.
Translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene occur in a subset (5%) of acute myeloid leukemias (AML), and in mixed phenotype acute leukemias in infancy - a disease with extremely poor prognosis. Animal model systems show that MLL gain of function mutations may contribute to leukemogenesis. Wild-type (wt) MLL possesses histone methyltransferase activity and functions at the level of chromatin organization by affecting the expression of specific target genes. While numerous MLL fusion proteins exert a diverse array of functions, they ultimately serve to induce transcription of specific genes. Hence, acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) with MLL mutations (MLLmu) exhibit characteristic gene expression profiles including high-level expression of HOXA cluster genes. Here, we aimed to relate MLL mutational status and tumor suppressor gene (TSG) methylation/expression in acute leukemia cell lines.
Using MS-MLPA (methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification assay), methylation of 24 different TSG was analyzed in 28 MLLmu and MLLwt acute leukemia cell lines. On average, 1.8/24 TSG were methylated in MLLmu AML cells, while 6.2/24 TSG were methylated in MLLwt AML cells. Hypomethylation and expression of the TSG BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 turned out to be characteristic of MLLmu AML cell lines. MLLwt AML cell lines displayed hypermethylated TSG promoters resulting in transcriptional silencing. Demethylating agents and inhibitors of histone deacetylases restored expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3, confirming epigenetic silencing of these genes in MLLwt cells. The positive correlation between MLL translocation, TSG hypomethylation and expression suggested that MLL fusion proteins were responsible for dysregulation of TSG expression in MLLmu cells. This concept was supported by our observation that Bex2 mRNA levels in MLL-ENL transgenic mouse cell lines required expression of the MLL fusion gene.
These results suggest that the conspicuous expression of the TSG BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 in MLLmu AML cell lines is the consequence of altered epigenetic properties of MLL fusion proteins.
PMCID: PMC2770485  PMID: 19835597
10.  Comparative Epigenomics of Human and Mouse Mammary Tumors 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2009;48(1):83-97.
Gene silencing by aberrant epigenetic chromatin alteration is a well-recognized event contributing to tumorigenesis. While genetically engineered tumor-prone mouse models have proven a powerful tool in understanding many aspects of carcinogenesis, to date few studies have focused on epigenetic alterations in mouse tumors. To uncover epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) in mouse mammary tumor cells, we conducted initial genome-wide screening by combining the treatment of cultured cells with the DNA demethylating drug 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-azadC) and the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) with expression microarray. By conducting this initial screen on EMT6 cells and applying protein function and genomic structure criteria to genes identified as upregulated in response to 5-azadC/TSA, we were able to identify 2 characterized breast cancer TSGs (Timp3 and Rprm) and 4 putative TSGs (Atp1B2, Dusp2, FoxJ1 and Smpd3) silenced in this line. By testing a panel of ten mouse mammary tumor lines, we determined that each of these genes is commonly hypermethylated, albeit with varying frequency. Furthermore, by examining a panel of human breast tumor lines and primary tumors we observed that the human orthologs of ATP1B2, FOXJ1 and SMPD3 are aberrantly hypermethylated in the human disease while DUSP2 was not hypermethylated in primary breast tumors. Finally, we examined hypermethylation of several genes targeted for epigenetic silencing in human breast tumors in our panel of ten mouse mammary tumor lines. We observed that the orthologs of Cdh1, RarB, Gstp1, RassF1 genes were hypermethylated, while neither Dapk1 nor Wif1 were aberrantly methylated in this panel of mouse tumor lines. From this study, we conclude that there is significant, but not absolute, overlap in the epigenome of human and mouse mammary tumors.
PMCID: PMC2929596  PMID: 18836996
11.  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
12.  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
13.  Epigenetic inactivation of the NORE1 gene correlates with malignant progression of colorectal tumors 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:577.
NORE1 (RASSF5) is a newly described member of the RASSF family with Ras effector function. NORE1 expression is frequently inactivated by aberrant promoter hypermethylation in many human cancers, suggesting that NORE1 might be a putative tumor suppressor. However, expression and mutation status of NORE1 and its implication in colorectal tumorigenesis has not been evaluated.
Expression, mutation, and methylation status of NORE1A and NORE1B in 10 cancer cell lines and 80 primary tumors were characterized by quantitative PCR, SSCP, and bisulfite DNA sequencing analyses. Effect of NORE1A and NORE1B expression on tumor cell growth was evaluated using cell number counting, flow cytometry, and colony formation assays.
Expression of NORE1A and NORE1B transcript was easily detectable in all normal colonic epithelial tissues, but substantially decreased in 7 (70%) and 4 (40%) of 10 cancer cell lines and 31 (38.8%) and 25 (31.3%) of 80 primary carcinoma tissues, respectively. Moreover, 46 (57.6%) and 38 (47.5%) of 80 matched tissue sets exhibited tumor-specific reduction of NORE1A and NORE1B, respectively. Abnormal reduction of NORE1 was more commonly observed in advanced stage and high grade tumors compared to early and low grade tumors. While somatic mutations of the gene were not identified, its expression was re-activated in all low expressor cells after treatment with the demethylating agent 5-aza-dC. Bisulfite DNA sequencing analysis of 31 CpG sites within the promoter region demonstrated that abnormal reduction of NORE1A is tightly associated with promoter CpG sites hypermethylation. Moreover, transient expression and siRNA-mediated knockdown assays revealed that both NORE1A and NORE1B decrease cellular growth and colony forming ability of tumor cells and enhance tumor cell response to apoptotic stress.
Our data indicate that epigenetic inactivation of NORE1 due to aberrant promoter hypermethylation is a frequent event in colorectal tumorigenesis and might be implicated in the malignant progression of colorectal tumors.
PMCID: PMC2978205  PMID: 20969767
14.  Unique Association between Global DNA Hypomethylation and Chromosomal Alterations in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72312.
Global DNA hypomethylation is a characteristic feature of cancer cells that closely associates with chromosomal instability (CIN). However, the association between these characteristics during hepatocarcinogenesis remains unclear. Herein, we determined the relationship between hypomethylation and CIN in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by analyzing 179 HCCs, 178 matched non-tumor livers and 23 normal liver tissues. Hypomethylation at three different repetitive DNA (rDNA) sequences and hypermethylation of 12 CpG loci, including 11 tumor suppressor gene (TSG) promoters, were quantified using MethyLight or combined bisulfite restriction analysis. Fractional allelic loss (FAL) was used as a marker for CIN, calculated by analyzing 400 microsatellite markers. Gains and losses at each chromosome were also determined using semi-quantitative microsatellite analysis. The associations between rDNA hypomethylation and FAL, as well as between TSG hypermethylation and FAL were investigated. Significantly more hypomethylation was observed in HCC tissues than in normal liver samples. Progression of hypomethylation during carcinogenesis was more prominent in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-negative cases, which was in contrast to our previous reports of significantly increased TSG methylation levels in HCV-positive tumors. Absence of liver cirrhosis and higher FAL scores were identified as independent contributors to significant hypomethylation of rDNA in HCC. Among the chromosomal alterations frequently observed in HCC, loss of 8p, which was unique in the earliest stages of hepatocarcinogenesis, was significantly associated with hypomethylation of rDNA by multivariable analysis (p = 0.0153). rDNA hypomethylation was also associated with a high FAL score regardless of tumor differentiation (p = 0.0011, well-differentiated; p = 0.0089, moderately/poorly-differentiated HCCs). We conclude that DNA hypomethylation is an important cause of CIN in the earliest step of HCC, especially in a background of non-cirrhotic liver.
PMCID: PMC3759381  PMID: 24023736
15.  Methylation-associated down-regulation of RASSF1A and up-regulation of RASSF1C in pancreatic endocrine tumors 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:351.
RASSF1A gene silencing by DNA methylation has been suggested as a major event in pancreatic endocrine tumor (PET) but RASSF1A expression has never been studied. The RASSF1 locus contains two CpG islands (A and C) and generates seven transcripts (RASSF1A-RASSF1G) by differential promoter usage and alternative splicing.
We studied 20 primary PETs, their matched normal pancreas and three PET cell lines for the (i) methylation status of the RASSF1 CpG islands using methylation-specific PCR and pyrosequencing and (ii) expression of RASSF1 isoforms by quantitative RT-PCR in 13 cases. CpG island A methylation was evaluated by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and by quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP); pyrosequencing was applied to quantify the methylation of 51 CpGs also encompassing those explored by MSP and qMSP approaches.
MSP detected methylation in 16/20 (80%) PETs and 13/20 (65%) normal pancreas. At qMSP, 11/20 PETs (55%) and 9/20 (45%) normals were methylated in at least 20% of RASSF1A alleles.
Pyrosequencing showed variable distribution and levels of methylation within and among samples, with PETs having average methylation higher than normals in 15/20 (75%) cases (P = 0.01). The evaluation of mRNA expression of RASSF1 variants showed that: i) RASSF1A was always expressed in PET and normal tissues, but it was, on average, expressed 6.8 times less in PET (P = 0.003); ii) RASSF1A methylation inversely correlated with its expression; iii) RASSF1 isoforms were rarely found, except for RASSF1B that was always expressed and RASSF1C whose expression was 11.4 times higher in PET than in normal tissue (P = 0.001). A correlation between RASSF1A expression and gene methylation was found in two of the three PET cell lines, which also showed a significant increase in RASSF1A expression upon demethylating treatment.
RASSF1A gene methylation in PET is higher than normal pancreas in no more than 75% of cases and as such it cannot be considered a marker for this neoplasm. RASSF1A is always expressed in PET and normal pancreas and its levels are inversely correlated with gene methylation. Isoform RASSF1C is overexpressed in PET and the recent demonstration of its involvement in the regulation of the Wnt pathway points to a potential pathogenetic role in tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3170651  PMID: 21838870
16.  Frequent Epigenetic Silencing of the Folate-Metabolising Gene Cystathionine-Beta-Synthase in Gastrointestinal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49683.
Both gastric and colorectal cancers (CRC) are the most frequently occurring malignancies worldwide with the overall survival of these patients remains unsatisfied. Identification of tumor suppressor genes (TSG) silenced by promoter CpG methylation uncovers mechanisms of tumorigenesis and identifies new epigenetic biomarkers for early cancer detection and prognosis assessment. Cystathionine-beta-synthase (CBS) functions in the folate metabolism pathway, which is intricately linked to methylation of genomic DNA. Dysregulation of DNA methylation contributes substantially to cancer development.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To identify potential TSGs silenced by aberrant promoter methylation in CRC, we analyzed tumor and adjacent tissues from CRC cases using the Illumina Human Methylation45 BeadChip. We identified hypermethylation of the CBS gene in CRC samples, compared to adjacent tissues. Methylation and decreased mRNA expression of CBS were detected in most CRC cell lines by methylation-specific PCR and semiquantitative RT-PCR, as well as in gastric cancer. Treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and/or trichostatin A reversed methylation and restored CBS mRNA expression indicating a direct effect. Aberrant methylation was further detected in 31% of primary CRCs (29 of 96) and 55% of gastric tumors (11 of 20). In contrast, methylation was seldom found in normal tissues adjacent to the tumor. CBS methylation was associated with KRAS mutations in primary CRCs (P = 0.04, by χ2-test). However, no association was found between CBS methylation or KRAS mutations with cancer relapse/metastasis in Stage II CRC patients.
A novel finding from this study is that the folate metabolism enzyme CBS mRNA levels are frequently downregulated through CpG methylation of the CBS gene in gastric cancer and CRC, suggesting that CBS functions as a tumor suppressor gene. These findings warrant further study of CBS as an epigenetic biomarker for molecular diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers.
PMCID: PMC3496708  PMID: 23152928
17.  Investigation of the role of SDHB inactivation in sporadic phaeochromocytoma and neuroblastoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2004;91(10):1835-1841.
Germline mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) (mitochondrial respiratory chain complex II) subunit B gene, SDHB, cause susceptibility to head and neck paraganglioma and phaeochromocytoma. Previously, we did not identify somatic SDHB mutations in sporadic phaeochromocytoma, but SDHB maps to 1p36, a region of frequent loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in neuroblastoma as well. Hence, to evaluate SDHB as a candidate neuroblastoma tumour suppressor gene (TSG) we performed mutation analysis in 46 primary neuroblastomas by direct sequencing, but did not identify germline or somatic SDHB mutations. As TSGs such as RASSF1A are frequently inactivated by promoter region hypermethylation, we designed a methylation-sensitive PCR-based assay to detect SDHB promoter region methylation. In 21% of primary neuroblastomas and 32% of phaeochromocytomas (32%) methylated (and unmethylated) alleles were detected. Although promoter region methylation was also detected in two neuroblastoma cell lines, this was not associated with silencing of SDHB expression, and treatment with a demethylating agent (5-azacytidine) did not increase SDH activity. These findings suggest that although germline SDHB mutations are an important cause of phaeochromocytoma susceptibility, somatic inactivation of SDHB does not have a major role in sporadic neural crest tumours and SDHB is not the target of 1p36 allele loss in neuroblastoma and phaeochromocytoma.
PMCID: PMC2410049  PMID: 15505628
SDHB; methylation; neuroblastoma; phaeochromocytoma
18.  Valproic acid shows potent antitumor effect with alteration of DNA methylation in neuroblastoma 
Anti-cancer drugs  2012;23(10):1054-1066.
Epigenetic aberrations and a CpG island methylator phenotype are associated with poor outcome in children with neuroblastoma (NB). Previously, we demonstrated that valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, has antitumor effects in an NB xenograft model. However, the underlying antitumor molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the role of HDAC in cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, gene expression patterns, and epigenome in neuroblastoma. Cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, caspase activity, RNA and protein expression, quantitative methylation, and global DNA methylation were examined in NBL-W-N and LA1-55n NB cell lines. Our studies demonstrated that Inhibition of HDAC decreased NB proliferation and induced G1 growth arrest. Expression patterns of cancer-related genes were modulated by VPA. THBS1, CASP8, SPARC, CDKN1A, HIC1, CDKN1B, and HIN1 expression was upregulated, and MYCN and TIG1 were downregulated. HDAC inhibition decreased methylation levels of THBS1 and RASSF1A promoters. Inhibition of HDAC increased acetylation of histone 4 and global DNA methylation levels. Our studies demonstrated that inhibition of HDAC blocked cell proliferation and cell cycle progression in relation to alteration of cancer related genes, increasing global DNA methylation and decreasing methylation of tumor suppressor genes. Further studies investigating the anti-tumor effects of VPA in NB are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3710400  PMID: 22863973
Histone deacetylase; histone acetylation; cell proliferation; cell cycle; valproic acid; neuroblastoma; DNA methylation
19.  LINE-1 hypomethylation is inversely associated with microsatellite instability and CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) in colorectal cancer 
The CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) with widespread promoter CpG island methylation is a phenotype in colorectal cancer, associated with microsatellite instability (MSI) and BRAF mutation. Genome-wide hypomethylation may also play an important role in genomic instability. However, the relation between global DNA methylation level and methylation in individual CpG islands remains uncertain. Utilizing 869 population-based colorectal cancers, we measured LINE-1 (long interspersed nucleotide element-1) methylation level by Pyrosequencing, which correlates with global DNA methylation level. We quantified DNA methylation in 8 CIMP-specific promoters (CACNA1G, CDKN2A (p16), CRABP1, IGF2, MLH1, NEUROG1, RUNX3 and SOCS1) by real-time PCR (MethyLight technology). LINE-1 methylation levels in tumors were approximately normally distributed (mean 61.4%, median 62.3%, standard deviation 9.6%). Among the 869 tumors, 128 (15%) were classified as CIMP-high (≥6/8 methylated promoters). The mean LINE-1 methylation level was higher in CIMP-high tumors (65.1%, p<0.0001) than non-CIMP-high tumors (60.7%), and higher in MSI-high tumors (64.7%, p<0.0001) than non-MSI-high tumors (60.7%). When tumors were stratified by MSI/CIMP status, compared to non-MSI-high non-CIMP-high tumors (mean LINE-1 methylation level 60.4%), the mean LINE-1 methylation level was higher in MSI-high CIMP-high (64.8%, p<0.0001), MSI-high non-CIMP-high (64.6%, p=0.03) and non-MSI-high CIMP-high tumors (66.1%, p=0.0003). In addition, 18q loss of heterozygosity in non-MSI-high tumors was correlated with LINE-1 hypomethylation (p=0.004). In conclusion, both CIMP-high and MSI-high are inversely associated with LINE-1 hypomethylation, suggesting that CIMP/MSI and genomic hypomethylation may represent different pathways to colorectal cancer. Our data also support a possible link between global hypomethylation and chromosomal instability.
PMCID: PMC2630175  PMID: 18366060
colon cancer; methylation; epigenomics; CIMP; LINE-1
20.  Clinicopathological significance of PTPN12 expression in human breast cancer 
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 12 (PTPN12) is a recently identified tumor suppressor gene (TSG) that is frequently compromised in human triple-negative breast cancer. In the present study, we investigated the expression of PTPN12 protein by patients with breast cancer in a Chinese population and the relationship between PTPN12 expression levels and patient clinicopathological features and prognosis. Additionally, we explored the underlying down-regulation mechanism from the perspective of an epigenetic alteration. We examined PTPN12 mRNA expression in five breast cancer cell lines using semi-quantitative reverse-transcription PCR, and detected PTPN12 protein expression using immunohistochemistry in 150 primary invasive breast cancer cases and paired adjacent non-tumor tissues. Methylation-specific PCR was performed to analyze the promoter CpG island methylation status of PTPN12. PTPN12 was significantly down-regulated in breast cancer cases (48/150) compared to adjacent noncancerous tissues (17/150; P < 0.05). Furthermore, low expression of PTPN12 showed a significant positive correlation with tumor size (P = 0.047), lymph node metastasis (P = 0.001), distant metastasis (P = 0.009), histological grade (P = 0.012), and survival time (P = 0.019). Additionally, promoter CpG island hypermethylation occurs more frequently in breast cancer cases and breast cancer cell lines with low PTPN12 expression. Our findings suggest that PTPN12 is potentially a methylation-silenced TSG for breast cancer that may play an important role in breast carcinogenesis and could potentially serve as an independent prognostic factor for invasive breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3854213  PMID: 23044628
Breast cancer; Tumor suppressor gene; PTPN12; Prognosis; Methylation
21.  Extensive analysis of D7S486 in primary gastric cancer supports TESTIN as a candidate tumor suppressor gene 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:190.
High frequency of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) was found at D7S486 in primary gastric cancer (GC). And we found a high frequency of LOH region on 7q31 in primary GC from China, and identified D7S486 to be the most frequent LOH locus. This study was aimed to determine what genes were affected by the LOH and served as tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) in this region. Here, a high-throughput single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) microarray fabricated in-house was used to analyze the LOH status around D7S486 on 7q31 in 75 patients with primary GC. Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR were used to assess the protein and mRNA expression of TESTIN (TES) in 50 and 140 primary GC samples, respectively. MTS assay was used to investigate the effect of TES overexpression on the proliferation of GC cell lines. Mutation and methylation analysis were performed to explore possible mechanisms of TES inactivation in GC.
LOH analysis discovered five candidate genes (ST7, FOXP2, MDFIC, TES and CAV1) whose frequencies of LOH were higher than 30%. However, only TES showed the potential to be a TSG associated with GC. Among 140 pairs of GC samples, decreased TES mRNA level was found in 96 (68.6%) tumor tissues when compared with matched non-tumor tissues (p < 0.001). Also, reduced TES protein level was detected in 36 (72.0%) of all 50 tumor tissues by Western blot (p = 0.001). In addition, immunohistochemical staining result was in agreement with that of RT-PCR and Western blot. Down regulation of TES was shown to be correlated with tumor differentiation (p = 0.035) and prognosis (p = 0.035, log-rank test). Its overexpression inhibited the growth of three GC cell lines. Hypermethylation of TES promoter was a frequent event in primary GC and GC cell lines. However, no specific gene mutation was observed in the coding region of the TES gene.
Collectively, all results support the role of TES as a TSG in gastric carcinogenesis and that TES is inactivated primarily by LOH and CpG island methylation.
PMCID: PMC2915979  PMID: 20626849
22.  Methylation kinetics and CpG-island methylator phenotyope status in colorectal cancer cell lines 
Biology Direct  2013;8:14.
Hypermethylation of CpG islands is thought to contribute to carcinogenesis through the inactivation of tumor suppressor genes. Tumor cells with relatively high levels of CpG island methylation are considered CpG island methylator phenotypes (CIMP). The mechanisms that are responsible for regulating the activity of de novo methylation are not well understood.
We quantify and compare de novo methylation kinetics in CIMP and non-CIMP colon cancer cell lines in the context of different loci, following 5-aza-2’deoxycytidine (5-AZA)-mediated de-methylation of cells. In non-CIMP cells, a relatively fast rate of re-methylation is observed that starts with a certain time delay after cessation of 5-AZA treatment. CIMP cells, on the other hand, start re-methylation without a time delay but at a significantly slower rate. A mathematical model can account for these counter-intuitive results by assuming negative feedback regulation of de novo methylation activity and by further assuming that this regulation is corrupted in CIMP cells. This model further suggests that when methylation levels have grown back to physiological levels, de novo methylation activity ceases in non-CIMP cells, while it continues at a constant low level in CIMP cells.
We propose that the faster rate of re-methylation observed in non-CIMP compared to CIMP cells in our study could be a consequence of feedback-mediated regulation of DNA methyl transferase activity. Testing this hypothesis will involve the search for specific feedback regulatory mechanisms involved in the activation of de novo methylation.
Reviewers’ report
This article was reviewed by Georg Luebeck, Tomasz Lipniacki, and Anna Marciniak-Czochra
PMCID: PMC3691599  PMID: 23758948
Methylation kinetics; Methylator phenotype; Methylation rates; Mathematical modeling
23.  Epigenetic alterations differ in phenotypically distinct human neuroblastoma cell lines 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:286.
Epigenetic aberrations and a CpG island methylator phenotype have been shown to be associated with poor outcomes in children with neuroblastoma (NB). Seven cancer related genes (THBS-1, CASP8, HIN-1, TIG-1, BLU, SPARC, and HIC-1) that have been shown to have epigenetic changes in adult cancers and play important roles in the regulation of angiogenesis, tumor growth, and apoptosis were analyzed to investigate the role epigenetic alterations play in determining NB phenotype.
Two NB cell lines (tumorigenic LA1-55n and non-tumorigenic LA1-5s) that differ in their ability to form colonies in soft agar and tumors in nude mice were used. Quantitative RNA expression analyses were performed on seven genes in LA1-5s, LA1-55n and 5-Aza-dC treated LA1-55n NB cell lines. The methylation status around THBS-1, HIN-1, TIG-1 and CASP8 promoters was examined using methylation specific PCR. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay was used to examine histone modifications along the THBS-1 promoter. Luciferase assay was used to determine THBS-1 promoter activity. Cell proliferation assay was used to examine the effect of 5-Aza-dC on NB cell growth. The soft agar assay was used to determine the tumorigenicity.
Promoter methylation values for THBS-1, HIN-1, TIG-1, and CASP8 were higher in LA1-55n cells compared to LA1-5s cells. Consistent with the promoter methylation status, lower levels of gene expression were detected in the LA1-55n cells. Histone marks associated with repressive chromatin states (H3K9Me3, H3K27Me3, and H3K4Me3) were identified in the THBS-1 promoter region in the LA1-55n cells, but not the LA1-5s cells. In contrast, the three histone codes associated with an active chromatin state (acetyl H3, acetyl H4, and H3K4Me3) were present in the THBS-1 promoter region in LA1-5s cells, but not the LA1-55n cells, suggesting that an accessible chromatin structure is important for THBS-1 expression. We also show that 5-Aza-dC treatment of LA1-55n cells alters the DNA methylation status and the histone code in the THBS-1 promoter modifies cell morphology, and inhibits their ability to form colonies in soft agar.
Our results suggest that epigenetic aberrations contribute to NB phenotype, and that tumorigenic properties can be inhibited by reversing the epigenetic changes with 5-Aza-dC.
PMCID: PMC2897803  PMID: 20546602
24.  Identification of Hypermethylation in Hepatocyte Cell Adhesion Molecule Gene Promoter Region in Bladder Carcinoma 
Background: Epigenetic regulation such as aberrant hypermethylation of CpG islands in promoter plays a key role in tumorigenesis. 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-CdR) which is a potent inhibitor of DNA methylation can reverse the abnormal hypermethylation of the silenced tumor suppressor genes (TSGs). It has been reported that hepatocyte cell adhesion molecule (hepaCAM) acts as a tumor suppressor gene and expression of its mRNA and protein were down-regulated in bladder cancer. Over-expression of hepaCAM can inhibit cancer growth and arrest renal cancer cells at G0/G1 phase. In this study, we investigated the methylation status of hepaCAM gene, as well as the influence of 5-aza-CdR on expression of hepaCAM gene in bladder cancer cells. Methods: CpG islands in hepaCAM promoter and methprimers were predicted and designed using bioinformatics program. Methylation status of hepaCAM promoter was evaluated in bladder cancer tissues and two cell lines (T24 and BIU-87) by Methylation-specific PCR; Western blot and Immunofluorescence were used to detect expression of hepaCAM protein after 5-aza-CdR treatment; Flow cytometry assay was performed to determine effectiveness of 5-aza-CdR on cell cycle profile. Results: CpG island in promoter of hepaCAM gene was hyper-methylated both in bladder carcinoma tissues and cell lines (T24 and BIU-87). Otherwise, aberrant methylation of its promoter was associated with its decreased expression. Hypermethylation of hepaCAM gene was reversed and expression of its mRNA and protein were re-activated in two cell lines by DNA methyltransferases inhibitor 5-aza-CdR. Flow cytometry assay demonstrated that 5-aza-CdR can inhibit growth of cancer cells by arresting cancer cells at G0/G1 phase. Conclusion: Abnormal hypermethylation in CpG island of hepaCAM promoter is involved in absence of hepaCAM gene expression when bladder cancer occurs. Re-activation of hepaCAM gene by 5-aza-CdR can inhibit growth of cancer cells and arrest cells at G0/G1 phase.
PMCID: PMC3856376  PMID: 24324362
hepaCAM; promoter; methylation; 5-aza-CdR; Bladder carcinoma.
25.  Genome-wide CpG island methylation analysis implicates novel genes in the pathogenesis of renal cell carcinoma 
Epigenetics  2012;7(3):278-290.
In order to identify novel candidate tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) implicated in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), we performed genome-wide methylation profiling of RCC using the HumanMethylation27 BeadChips to assess methylation at >14,000 genes. Two hundred and twenty hypermethylated probes representing 205 loci/genes were identified in genomic CpG islands. A subset of TSGs investigated in detail exhibited frequent tumor methylation, promoter methylation associated transcriptional silencing and reactivation after demethylation in RCC cell lines and downregulation of expression in tumor tissue (e.g., SLC34A2 specifically methylated in 63% of RCC, OVOL1 in 40%, DLEC1 in 20%, TMPRSS2 in 26%, SST in 31% and BMP4 in 35%). As OVOL1, a putative regulator of c-Myc transcription, and SST (somatostatin) had not previously been linked to cancer and RCC, respectively, we (1) investigated their potential relevance to tumor growth by RNAi knockdown and found significantly increased anchorage-independent growth and (2) demonstrated that OVOL1 knockdown increased c-Myc mRNA levels.
PMCID: PMC3335951  PMID: 22430804
renal cell carcinoma (RCC); methylation; epigenetics

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