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1.  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.
doi:10.1530/ERC-12-0267
PMCID: PMC3573842  PMID: 23154831
Molecular genetics; Gene regulation; Metastasis; Adrenal medulla; Endocrine therapy
2.  Frequent promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and CASP8 in neuroblastoma 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:254.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-254
PMCID: PMC1634754  PMID: 17064406
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.
doi:10.1038/sj.onc.1207505
PMCID: PMC2856469  PMID: 15064737
MGMT; RAR-β2; RASSF1A; methylation; melanoma
4.  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.
doi:10.3892/or.2012.1624
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
5.  Distinct Epigenetic Domains Separated by a CTCF Bound Insulator between the Tandem Genes, BLU and RASSF1A 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12847.
Background
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012847
PMCID: PMC2942851  PMID: 20877461
6.  Epigenetic regulation of CD44 in Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:517.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-517
PMCID: PMC2955612  PMID: 20920234
7.  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.
Synopsis
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020040
PMCID: PMC1420676  PMID: 16596166
8.  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.
doi:10.1002/gcc.20620
PMCID: PMC2929596  PMID: 18836996
9.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.ab.2009.05.012
PMCID: PMC3939067  PMID: 19442645
Regional DNA Methylation; LC-MS/MS; Quantification
10.  The RASSF gene family members RASSF5, RASSF6 and RASSF7 show frequent DNA methylation in neuroblastoma 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:40.
Background
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.
Results
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.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-11-40
PMCID: PMC3493266  PMID: 22695170
11.  Epigenetic inactivation of the NORE1 gene correlates with malignant progression of colorectal tumors 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:577.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-577
PMCID: PMC2978205  PMID: 20969767
12.  Hypomethylation and expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 indicative of MLL translocations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:86.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-8-86
PMCID: PMC2770485  PMID: 19835597
13.  Epigenetic markers for early detection of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in a high risk population 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:48.
Background
Undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is strongly related to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, allowing aberrant antibodies against EBV and viral DNA load as screening tools in high risk populations. Methylation analysis in the promoter of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) may serve as a complementary marker for identifying early cases. This study determined methylation status of multiple TSGs and evaluated whether it may improve early detection.
Methods
Nasopharyngeal brushings were taken from 53 NPC patients, 22 high risk subjects and 25 healthy EBV carriers. Corresponding NPC paraffin tissue was included. DNA was bisulfite-modified preceding analysis by methylation-specific PCR (MSP). Ten TSGs were studied.
Results
NPC paraffin and brushing DNA revealed an 81.8% concordance so that MSP analysis was done using either one of both specimens. NPC samples showed methylation for individual TSGs (DAPK1 79.2%, CDH13 77.4%, DLC1 76.9%, RASSF1A 75.5%, CADM1 69.8%, p16 66.0%, WIF1 61.2%, CHFR 58.5%, RIZ1 56.6% and RASSF2A 29.2%). High risk individuals, having elevated EBV IgA and viral load, showed high frequency of methylation of CDH13, DAPK1, DLC1 and CADM1, but low frequency of methylation of p16 and WIF1 and undetectable methylation of RASSF1A, CHFR, RIZ1 and RASSF2A. Healthy subjects showed similar patterns as high risk individuals. A combination of RASSF1A and p16 gave good discrimination between NPC and non-NPC, but best results were combined analysis of five methylation markers (RASSF1A, p16, WIF1, CHFR and RIZ1) with detection rate of 98%.
Conclusion
Multiple marker MSP is proposed as a complementary test for NPC risk assessment in combination with EBV-based markers.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-48
PMCID: PMC3114786  PMID: 21535891
14.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Promoter Methylation in Lung Cancer Identifies Novel Methylation Markers for Multiple Malignancies  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e486.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background.
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030486.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030486
PMCID: PMC1716188  PMID: 17194187
15.  Methylation-associated down-regulation of RASSF1A and up-regulation of RASSF1C in pancreatic endocrine tumors 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:351.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-351
PMCID: PMC3170651  PMID: 21838870
16.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072312
PMCID: PMC3759381  PMID: 24023736
17.  Methylation profiling of twenty promoter-CpG islands of genes which may contribute to hepatocellular carcinogenesis 
BMC Cancer  2002;2:29.
Background
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) presents one of the major health threats in China today. A better understanding of the molecular genetics underlying malignant transformation of hepatocytes is critical to success in the battle against this disease. The methylation state of C5 of the cytosine in the CpG di-nucleotide that is enriched within or near the promoter region of over 50 % of the polymerase II genes has a drastic effect on transcription of these genes. Changes in the methylation profile of the promoters represent an alternative to genetic lesions as causative factors for the tumor-specific aberrant expression of the genes.
Methods
We have used the methylation specific PCR method in conjunction with DNA sequencing to assess the methylation state of the promoter CpG islands of twenty genes. Aberrant expression of these genes have been attributed to the abnormal methylation profile of the corresponding promoter CpG islands in human tumors.
Results
While the following sixteen genes remained the unmethylated in all tumor and normal tissues: CDH1, APAF1, hMLH1, BRCA1, hTERC, VHL, RARβ, TIMP3, DAPK1, SURVIVIN, p14ARF, RB1, p15INK4b, APC, RASSF1c and PTEN, varying degrees of tumor specific hypermethylation were associated with the p16INK4a , RASSF1a, CASP8 and CDH13 genes. For instance, the p16INK4a was highly methylated in HCC (17/29, 58.6%) and less significantly methylated in non-cancerous tissue (4/29. 13.79%). The RASSF1a was fully methylated in all tumor tissues (29/29, 100%), and less frequently methylated in corresponding non-cancerous tissue (24/29, 82.75%).
Conclusions
Furthermore, co-existence of methylated with unmethylated DNA in some cases suggested that both genetic and epigenetic (CpG methylation) mechanisms may act in concert to inactivate the p16INK4a and RASSF1a in HCC. Finally, we found a significant association of cirrhosis with hypermethylation of the p16INK4a and hypomethylation of the CDH13 genes. For the first time, the survey was carried out on such an extent that it would not only provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underscoring the aberrant expression of the genes in this study in HCC, but also offer essential information required for a good methylation-based diagnosis of HCC.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-2-29
PMCID: PMC139988  PMID: 12433278
18.  Functional epigenomics approach to identify methylated candidate tumour suppressor genes in renal cell carcinoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;98(2):496-501.
Promoter region hypermethylation and transcriptional silencing is a frequent cause of tumour suppressor gene (TSG) inactivation in many human cancers. Previously, to identify candidate epigenetically inactivated TSGs in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), we monitored changes in gene expression in four RCC cell lines after treatment with the demethylating agent 5-azacytidine. This enabled us to identify HAI-2/SPINT2 as a novel epigenetically inactivated candidate RCC TSG. To identify further candidate TSGs, we undertook bioinformatic and molecular genetic evaluation of a further 60 genes differentially expressed after demethylation. In addition to HAI-2/SPINT2, four genes (PLAU, CDH1, IGFB3 and MT1G) had previously been shown to undergo promoter methylation in RCC. After bioinformatic prioritisation, expression and/or methylation analysis of RCC cell lines±primary tumours was performed for 34 genes. KRT19 and CXCL16 were methylated in RCC cell lines and primary RCC; however, 22 genes were differentially expressed after demethylation but did not show primary tumour-specific methylation (methylated in normal tissue (n=1); methylated only in RCC cell lines (n=9) and not methylated in RCC cell lines (n=12)). Re-expression of CXCL16 reduced growth of an RCC cell line in vitro. In a summary, a functional epigenomic analysis of four RCC cell lines using microarrays representing 11 000 human genes yielded both known and novel candidate TSGs epigenetically inactivated in RCC, suggesting that this is valid strategy for the identification of novel TSGs and biomarkers.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604180
PMCID: PMC2361461  PMID: 18195710
renal cell carcinoma; methylation; epigenetics
19.  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.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602202
PMCID: PMC2410049  PMID: 15505628
SDHB; methylation; neuroblastoma; phaeochromocytoma
20.  Methylation profiles of thirty four promoter-CpG islands and concordant methylation behaviours of sixteen genes that may contribute to carcinogenesis of astrocytoma 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:65.
Background
Astrocytoma is a common aggressive intracranial tumor and presents a formidable challenge in the clinic. Association of altered DNA methylation patterns of the promoter CpG islands with the expression profile of cancer-related genes, has been found in many human tumors. Therefore, DNA methylation status as such may serve as an epigenetic biomarker for both diagnosis and prognosis of human tumors, including astrocytoma.
Methods
We used the methylation specific PCR in conjunction with sequencing verification to establish the methylation profile of the promoter CpG island of thirty four genes in astrocytoma tissues from fifty three patients (The WHO grading:. I: 14, II: 15, III: 12 and IV: 12 cases, respectively). In addition, compatible tissues (normal tissues distant from lesion) from three non-astrocytoma patients were included as the control.
Results
Seventeen genes (ABL, APC, APAF1, BRCA1, CSPG2, DAPK1, hMLH1, LKB1, PTEN, p14ARF, p15INK4b, p27KIP1, p57KIP2, RASSF1C, RB1, SURVIVIN, and VHL) displayed a uniformly unmethylated pattern in all the astrocytoma and non-astrocytoma tissues examined. However, the MAGEA1 gene that was inactivated and hypermethylated in non-astrocytoma tissues, was partially demethylated in 24.5% of the astrocytoma tissues (co-existence of the hypermethylated and demethylated alleles). Of the astrocytoma associated hypermethylated genes, the methylation pattern of the CDH13, cyclin a1, DBCCR1, EPO, MYOD1, and p16INK4a genes changed in no more than 5.66% (3/53) of astrocytoma tissues compared to non-astrocytoma controls, while the RASSF1A, p73, AR, MGMT, CDH1, OCT6,, MT1A, WT1, and IRF7 genes were more frequently hypermethylated in 69.8%, 47.2%, 41.5%, 35.8%, 32%, 30.2%, 30.2%, 30.2% and 26.4% of astrocytoma tissues, respectively. Demethylation mediated inducible expression of the CDH13, MAGEA1, MGMT, p73 and RASSF1A genes was established in an astrocytoma cell line (U251), demonstrating that expression of these genes is likely regulated by DNA methylation. AR gene hypermethylation was found exclusively in female patients (22/27, 81%, 0/26, 0%, P < 0.001), while the IRF7 gene hypermethylation preferentially occurred in the male counterparts (11/26, 42.3% to 3/27, 11%, P < 0.05). Applying the mathematic method "the Discovery of Association Rules", we have identified groups consisting of up to three genes that more likely display the altered methylation patterns in concert in astrocytoma.
Conclusions
Of the thirty four genes examined, sixteen genes exhibited astrocytoma associated changes in the methylation profile. In addition to the possible pathological significance, the established concordant methylation profiles of the subsets consisting of two to three target genes may provide useful clues to the development of the useful prognostic as well as diagnostic assays for astrocytoma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-4-65
PMCID: PMC520749  PMID: 15367334
21.  Hypermethylation of the 16q23.1 Tumor Suppressor Gene ADAMTS18 in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma 
To identify tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) silenced by hypermethylation and discover new epigenetic biomarkers for early cancer detection. ADAMTS18, located at 16q23.1, has been reported to be a critical TSG in multiple primary tumors; however, this has not yet been verified in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). We explored epigenetic alterations in this gene in ccRCC and analyzed possible clinicopathological associations. We examined ADAMTS18 gene expression and methylation by semi-quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) and methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) in 5 ccRCC-derived cell lines before and after treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AzaC). MSP was further performed for 101 ccRCC primary tumors and 20 adjacent normal tissues. Some cell lines and specimens were examined by subsequent bisulfite genomic sequencing (BGS) and real-time PCR. Further, we analyzed the relationship between the ADAMTS18 gene methylation and clinicopathological features, including short-term disease-free survival (DFS), in patients with ccRCC. ADAMTS18 down-regulation and hypermethylation were detected in the ccRCC-derived cell lines using RT-PCR and MSP. Treatment with 5-AzaC reversed the hypermethylation of the ADAMTS18 gene and restored its expression. Hypermethylation was further detected in 44 of 101 (43.6%) primary tumors and 3 of 20 (15.0%) adjacent normal tissues. However, a significant difference between both groups was observed (p = 0.02). BGS analysis and real-time PCR were subsequently performed to confirm the results of RT-PCR and MSP. Furthermore, the methylation status of ADAMTS18 was not significantly associated with gender, age, location, tumor diameter, pathological stage, nuclear grade or short-term DFS in patients with ccRCC (p > 0.05). The ADAMTS18 gene is often down-regulated by hypermethylation in ccRCC-derived cell lines and primary tumors, indicating its critical role as a TSG in ccRCC. We conclude that ADAMTS18 gene hypermethylation may be involved in the tumorigenesis of ccRCC and may serve as a novel biomarker for this disease.
doi:10.3390/ijms16011051
PMCID: PMC4307290  PMID: 25569086
hypermethylation; ADAMTS18 gene; clear cell renal cell carcinoma; tumor suppressor gene
22.  Frequent Epigenetic Silencing of the Folate-Metabolising Gene Cystathionine-Beta-Synthase in Gastrointestinal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49683.
Background
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049683
PMCID: PMC3496708  PMID: 23152928
23.  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.
doi:10.1097/CAD.0b013e32835739dd
PMCID: PMC3710400  PMID: 22863973
Histone deacetylase; histone acetylation; cell proliferation; cell cycle; valproic acid; neuroblastoma; DNA methylation
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.
doi:10.7150/ijms.6460
PMCID: PMC3856376  PMID: 24324362
hepaCAM; promoter; methylation; 5-aza-CdR; Bladder carcinoma.
25.  Methylation profiling and evaluation of demethylating therapy in renal cell carcinoma 
Clinical Epigenetics  2013;5(1):16.
Background
Despite therapeutic advances in targeted therapy, metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) remains incurable for the vast majority of patients. Key molecular events in the pathogenesis of RCC include inactivation of the VHL tumour suppressor gene (TSG), inactivation of chromosome 3p TSGs implicated in chromatin modification and remodelling and de novo tumour-specific promoter methylation of renal TSGs. In the light of these observations it can be proposed that, as in some haematological malignancies, demethylating agents such as azacitidine might be beneficial for the treatment of advanced RCC.
Results
Here we report that the treatment of RCC cell lines with azacitidine suppressed cell proliferation in all 15 lines tested. A marked response to azacitidine therapy (>50% reduction in colony formation assay) was detected in the three cell lines with VHL promoter methylation but some RCC cell lines without VHL TSG methylation also demonstrated a similar response suggesting that multiple methylated TSGs might determine the response to demethylating therapies. To identify novel candidate methylated TSGs implicated in RCC we undertook a combined analysis of copy number and CpG methylation array data. Candidate novel epigenetically inactivated TSGs were further prioritised by expression analysis of RCC cell lines pre and post-azacitidine therapy and comparative expression analysis of tumour/normal pairs. Thus, with subsequent investigation two candidate genes were found to be methylated in more than 25% of our series and in the TCGA methylation dataset for 199 RCC samples: RGS7 (25.6% and 35.2% of tumours respectively) and NEFM in (25.6% and 30.2%). In addition three candidate genes were methylated in >10% of both datasets (TMEM74 (15.4% and 14.6%), GCM2 (41.0% and 14.6%) and AEBP1 (30.8% and 13.1%)). Methylation of GCM2 (P = 0.0324), NEFM (P = 0.0024) and RGS7 (P = 0.0067) was associated with prognosis.
Conclusions
These findings provide preclinical evidence that treatment with demethylating agents such as azacitidine might be useful for the treatment of advanced RCC and further insights into the role of epigenetic changes in the pathogenesis of RCC.
doi:10.1186/1868-7083-5-16
PMCID: PMC3848591  PMID: 24034811
Renal cancer; Epigenetics; Methylation; Demethylation; VHL; Renal cell carcinoma; Methylation; Therapy

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