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1.  Dysregulation of Circulating MicroRNAs and Prediction of Aggressive Prostate Cancer 
The Prostate  2012;72(13):1469-1477.
It is becoming increasingly evident that microRNAs (miRNA) are associated with the development and progression of prostate cancer (PCa).
We examined the hypothesis that plasma miRNA levels can differentiate patients by aggressiveness in 82 PCa patients. Taqman based quantitative RT-PCR assays were performed to measure copy number of target miRNAs.
miR-20a was signficantly overexpressed in plasma from patients with stage 3 tumors compared to stage 2 or below (p=0.03). The expression levels for miR-20a and miR-21 were significantly increased in patients with high risk CAPRA scores (16,623 and 1,595 copies, respectively). Significantly increased miR-21 and miR-145 expression were observed for patients with intermediate or high risk D’Amico scores compared to patients with low risk scores (p=0.047 and 0.011, respectively). The relapse rates for CAPRA scores ranged from 1.9% for low risk to 9.5% for intermediate risk and to 22.2% for high risk patients (p=0.023). For D’Amico scores, the relapse rates ranged from 0.0% for low risk to 7.4% for intermediate risk and 17.6% for high risk patients (p=0.039). Expression of miR-21 and miR-221 significantly differentiated patients with intermediate risk from those with low risk CAPRA scores (AUC=0.801, p=0.002). Four miRNAs (miR-20a, miR-21, miR-145 and miR-221) could also distinguish high vs. low risk in PCa patients by D’Amico score with an AUC of 0.824.
These preliminary data suggest that altered plasma miRNAs may be useful predictors to distinguish PCa patients with varied aggressiveness. Further larger studies to validate this promising finding are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3368098  PMID: 22298119
miRNAs; Prostate Cancer; Aggressiveness; Prediction
3.  Role of promoter hypermethylation in Cisplatin treatment response of male germ cell tumors 
Molecular Cancer  2004;3:16.
Male germ cell tumor (GCT) is a highly curable malignancy, which exhibits exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin treatment. The genetic pathway(s) that determine the chemotherapy sensitivity in GCT remain largely unknown.
We studied epigenetic changes in relation to cisplatin response by examining promoter hypermethylation in a cohort of resistant and sensitive GCTs. Here, we show that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes is associated with resistance. The promoter hypermethylation and/or the down-regulated expression of MGMT is seen in the majority of tumors. We hypothesize that these epigenetic alterations affecting MGMT play a major role in the exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin, characteristic of GCTs. We also demonstrate that cisplatin treatment induce de novo promoter hypermethylation in vivo. In addition, we show that the acquired cisplatin resistance in vitro alters the expression of specific genes and the highly resistant cells fail to reactivate gene expression after treatment to demethylating and histone deacetylase inhibiting agents.
Our findings suggest that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes play a role in resistance of GCT, while the transcriptional inactivation of MGMT by epigenetic alterations confer exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin. These results also implicate defects in epigenetic pathways that regulate gene transcription in cisplatin resistant GCT.
PMCID: PMC420487  PMID: 15149548
4.  Characteristic promoter hypermethylation signatures in male germ cell tumors 
Molecular Cancer  2002;1:8.
Human male germ cell tumors (GCTs) arise from undifferentiated primordial germ cells (PGCs), a stage in which extensive methylation reprogramming occurs. GCTs exhibit pluripotentality and are highly sensitive to cisplatin therapy. The molecular basis of germ cell (GC) transformation, differentiation, and exquisite treatment response is poorly understood.
To assess the role and mechanism of promoter hypermethylation, we analyzed CpG islands of 21 gene promoters by methylation-specific PCR in seminomatous (SGCT) and nonseminomatous (NSGCT) GCTs. We found 60% of the NSGCTs demonstrating methylation in one or more gene promoters whereas SGCTs showed a near-absence of methylation, therefore identifying distinct methylation patterns in the two major histologies of GCT. DNA repair genes MGMT, RASSF1A, and BRCA1, and a transcriptional repressor gene HIC1, were frequently methylated in the NSGCTs. The promoter hypermethylation was associated with gene silencing in most methylated genes, and reactivation of gene expression occured upon treatment with 5-Aza-2' deoxycytidine in GCT cell lines.
Our results, therefore, suggest a potential role for epigenetic modification of critical tumor suppressor genes in pathways relevant to GC transformation, differentiation, and treatment response.
PMCID: PMC149411  PMID: 12495446
Germ cell tumor; promoter hypermethylation; MGMT; RASSF1A; BRCA1; gene expression

Results 1-4 (4)