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1.  Developmental programming in skeletal muscle in response to overnourishment in the immediate postnatal life in rats☆,☆☆,★ 
Overnourishment during the suckling period (small litter, SL) results in the development of adult-onset obesity. To investigate the mechanisms that underlie the development of insulin resistance in the skeletal muscle of young and adult female SL rats, the litter size was reduced to 3 female pups/dam (SL) while the control litter (CL) had 12 pups/dam from the postnatal day 3 until day 21. Protein content, mRNA expression and methylation status of the promoter region of key components in the insulin signaling pathway were determined in the skeletal muscle of SL rats. Overnutrition during the suckling period resulted in increased body weight gains, hyperphagia and adult-onset obesity as well as increased levels of serum insulin, glucose, and leptin in SL rats. No differences in the expression of total protein as well as tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptor β and glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) were observed in skeletal muscle between two groups at both ages. A significant decrease of total insulin receptor substrate 1(IRS-1) and an increase in serine phosphorylation of IRS-1 were observed in skeletal muscle from adult SL rats. Hypermethylation of specific CpG dinucleotides in the proximal promoter region was observed for the Irs1 and Glut4 genes which correlated with the reduction in Irs1 and Glut4 mRNA levels in skeletal muscle of adult SL rats. Our results suggest that epigenetic modifications of the key genes involved in the insulin signaling pathway in skeletal muscle could result in the development of insulin resistance in SL female rats.
PMCID: PMC3805821  PMID: 23968580
Early overnutrition; Hyperinsulinemia; Epigenetics; DNA methylation; Insulin receptor substrate 1
2.  Gene silencing of SLC5A8 identified by genome-wide methylation profiling in lung cancer 
Aberrant DNA hypermethylation has been implicated as a component of an epigenetic mechanism that silences genes in cancers.
We performed a genome-wide search to identify differentially methylated loci between 26 tumor and adjacent non-tumor paired tissues from same lung cancer patients using restriction landmark genomic scanning (RLGS) analysis. Among 229 loci which were hypermethylated in lung tumors as compared to adjacent non-tumor tissues, solute carrier family 5, member 8 (SLC5A8) was one of the hypermethylated genes, and known as a tumor suppressor gene which is silenced by epigenetic changes in various tumors. We investigated the significance of DNA methylation in SLC5A8 expression in lung cancer cell lines, and 23 paired tumor and adjacent non-tumor lung tissues by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR), quantitative methylation specific PCR (QMSP) and bisulfite modified DNA sequencing analyses.
Reduced or lost expression of SLC5A8 was observed in 39.1% (9/23) of the tumor tissues as compared with paired adjacent non-tumor tissues. Bisulfite sequencing results of lung cancer cell lines and tissues which did not express SLC5A8 showed a densely methylated promoter region of SLC5A8. SLC5A8 was reactivated by treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-Aza and/or HDAC inhibitor, trichostatin A (TSA) in lung cancer cell lines, which did not express SLC5A8. Hypermethylation was detected at the promoter region of SLC5A8 in primary lung tumor tissues as compared with adjacent non-tumor tissues (14/23, 60.9%).
These results suggest that DNA methylation in the SLC5A8 promoter region may suppress the expression of SLC5A8 in lung tumor.
PMCID: PMC3566332  PMID: 23273563
Lung cancer; Gene silencing; SLC5A8; Tumor suppressor gene; DNA methylation; Restriction landmark genomic scanning
3.  Recruitment of NCOR1 to VDR target genes is enhanced in prostate cancer cells and associates with altered DNA methylation patterns 
Carcinogenesis  2012;34(2):248-256.
The current study investigated transcriptional distortion in prostate cancer cells using the vitamin D receptor (VDR) as a tool to examine how epigenetic events driven by corepressor binding and CpG methylation lead to aberrant gene expression. These relationships were investigated in the non-malignant RWPE-1 cells that were 1α,25(OH)2D3 responsive (RWPE-1) and malignant cell lines that were 1α,25(OH)2D3 partially responsive (RWPE-2) and resistant (PC-3). These studies revealed that selective attenuation and repression of VDR transcriptional responses in the cancer cell lines reflected their loss of antiproliferative sensitivity. This was evident in VDR target genes including VDR, CDKN1A (encodes p21(waf1/cip1)) and GADD45A; NCOR1 knockdown alleviated this malignant transrepression. ChIP assays in RWPE-1 and PC-3 cells revealed that transrepression of CDKN1A was associated with increased NCOR1 enrichment in response to 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment. These findings supported the concept that retained and increased NCOR1 binding, associated with loss of H3K9ac and increased H3K9me2, may act as a beacon for the initiation and recruitment of DNA methylation. Overexpressed histone methyltransferases (KMTs) were detectable in a wide panel of prostate cancer cell lines compared with RWPE-1 and suggested that generation of H3K9me2 states would be favored. Cotreatment of cells with the KMT inhibitor, chaetocin, increased 1α,25(OH)2D3-mediated induction of CDKN1A expression supporting a role for this event to disrupt CDKN1A regulation. Parallel surveys in PC-3 cells of CpG methylation around the VDR binding regions on CDKN1A revealed altered basal and VDR-regulated DNA methylation patterns that overlapped with VDR-induced recruitment of NCOR1 and gene transrepression. Taken together, these findings suggest that sustained corepressor interactions with nuclear-resident transcription factors may inappropriately transform transient-repressive histone states into more stable and repressive DNA methylation events.
PMCID: PMC3564435  PMID: 23087083
4.  Tissue specific DNA methylation of CpG islands in normal human adult somatic tissues distinguishes neural from non-neural tissues 
Epigenetics  2010;5(6):527-538.
Although most CpG islands are generally thought to remain unmethylated in all adult somatic tissues, recent genome-wide approaches have found that some CpG islands have distinct methylation patterns in various tissues, with most differences being seen between germ cells and somatic tissues. Few studies have addressed this among human somatic tissues and fewer still have studied the same sets of tissues from multiple individuals. In the current study, we used Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning to study tissue specific methylation patterns in a set of 12 human tissues collected from multiple individuals. We identified 34 differentially methylated CpG islands among these tissues, many of which showed consistent patterns in multiple individuals. Of particular interest were striking differences in CpG island methylation, not only among brain regions, but also between white and grey matter of the same region. These findings were confirmed for selected loci by quantitative bisulfite sequencing. Cluster analysis of the RLGS data indicated that several tissues clustered together, but the strongest clustering was in brain. Tissues from different brain regions clustered together, and, as a group, brain tissues were distinct from either mesoderm or endoderm derived tissues which demonstrated limited clustering. These data demonstrate consistent tissue specific methylation for certain CpG islands, with clear differences between white and grey matter of the brain. Furthermore, there was an overall pattern of tissue specifically methylated CpG islands that distinguished neural tissues from non-neural.
PMCID: PMC3322498  PMID: 20505344
Tissue specific methylation; CpG island methylation; neural; brain tissue; grey matter; white matter
5.  IMA: an R package for high-throughput analysis of Illumina's 450K Infinium methylation data 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(5):729-730.
Summary: The Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip is a newly designed high-density microarray for quantifying the methylation level of over 450 000 CpG sites within human genome. Illumina Methylation Analyzer (IMA) is a computational package designed to automate the pipeline for exploratory analysis and summarization of site-level and region-level methylation changes in epigenetic studies utilizing the 450K DNA methylation microarray. The pipeline loads the data from Illumina platform and provides user-customized functions commonly required to perform exploratory methylation analysis for individual sites as well as annotated regions.
Availability: IMA is implemented in the R language and is freely available from
PMCID: PMC3289916  PMID: 22253290
6.  Phenotype-Specific CpG Island Methylation Events in a Murine Model of Prostate Cancer 
Cancer research  2008;68(11):4173-4182.
Aberrant DNA methylation plays a significant role in nearly all human cancers and may contribute to disease progression to advanced phenotypes. Study of advanced prostate cancer phenotypes in the human disease is hampered by limited availability of tissues. We therefore took advantage of the Transgenic Adenocarcinoma of Mouse Prostate (TRAMP) model to study whether three different phenotypes of TRAMP tumors (PRIM, late-stage primary tumors; AIP, androgen-independent primary tumors; and MET, metastases) displayed specific patterns of CpG island hypermethylation using Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning. Each tumor phenotype displayed numerous hypermethylation events, with the most homogeneous methylation pattern in AIP and the most heterogeneous pattern in MET. Several loci displayed a phenotype-specific methylation pattern; the most striking pattern being loci methylated at high frequency in PRIM and AIP but rarely in MET. Examination of the mRNA expression of three genes, BC058385, Goosecoid, and Neurexin 2, which exhibited nonpromoter methylation, revealed increased expression associated with downstream methylation. Only methylated samples showed mRNA expression, in which tumor phenotype was a key factor determining the level of expression. The CpG island in the human orthologue of BC058385 was methylated in human AIP but not in primary androgen-stimulated prostate cancer or benign prostate. The clinical data show a proof-of-principle that the TRAMP model can be used to identify targets of aberrant CpG island methylation relevant to human disease. In conclusion, phenotype-specific hypermethylation events were associated with the overexpression of different genes and may provide new markers of prostate tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC2851167  PMID: 18519676
7.  Dietary folate deficiency blocks prostate cancer progression in the TRAMP model 
Dietary folate is essential in all tissues to maintain several metabolite pools and cellular proliferation. Prostate cells, due to specific metabolic characteristics, have increased folate demand to support proliferation and prevent genetic and epigenetic damage. Although several studies found that dietary folate interventions can affect colon cancer biology in rodent models, impact on prostate is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine if dietary folate manipulation, possibly being of primary importance for prostate epithelial cell metabolism, could significantly affect prostate cancer (CaP) progression. Strikingly, mild dietary folate depletion arrested CaP progression in 25/26 transgenic TRAMP mice, where tumorigenesis is prostate specific and characteristically aggressive. The significant effect on CaP growth was characterized by size, grade, proliferation and apoptosis analyses. Folate supplementation had a mild, non significant beneficial effect on grade. In addition, characterization of folate pools (correlated with serum), metabolite pools (polyamines, nucleotides), genetic and epigenetic damage, and expression of key biosynthetic enzymes in prostate tissue revealed interesting correlations with tumor progression. These findings indicate that CaP is highly sensitive to folate manipulation and suggest that antifolates, paired to current therapeutic strategies, might significantly improve treatment of CaP, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men.
PMCID: PMC3208799  PMID: 21836022
Prostate cancer; TRAMP; folate; one-carbon metabolism; polyamine biosynthesis
8.  Epigenetic silencing of the kinase tumor suppressor WNK2 is tumor-type and tumor-grade specific 
Neuro-Oncology  2009;11(4):414-422.
Both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms contribute to meningioma development by altering gene expression and protein function. To determine the relative contribution of each mechanism to meningioma development, we used an integrative approach measuring copy number and DNA methylation changes genomewide. We found that genetic alterations affected 1.9%, 7.4%, and 13.3% of the 691 loci studied, whereas epigenetic mechanisms affected 5.4%, 9.9%, and 10.3% of these loci in grade I, II, and III meningiomas, respectively. Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms rarely involved the same locus in any given tumor. The predilection for epigenetic rather than genetic silencing was exemplified at the 5′ CpG island of WNK2, a serine-threonine kinase gene on chromosome 9q22.31. WNK2 is known to negatively regulate epidermal growth factor receptor signaling via inhibition of MEK1 (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1), and point mutations have been reported in WNK1, WNK2, WNK3, and WNK4. In meningiomas, WNK2 was aberrantly methylated in 83% and 71% of grade II and III meningiomas, respectively, but rarely in a total of 209 tumors from 13 other tumor types. Aberrant methylation of the CpG island was associated with decreased expression in primary tumors. WNK2 could be reactivated with a methylation inhibitor in IOMM-Lee, a meningioma cell line with a densely methylated WNK2 CpG island and lack of WNK2 expression. Expression of exogenous WNK2 inhibited colony formation, implicating it as a potential cell growth suppressor. These findings indicate that epigenetic mechanisms are common across meningiomas of all grades and that for specific genes such as WNK2, epigenetic alteration may be the dominant, grade-specific mechanism of gene inactivation.
PMCID: PMC2743221  PMID: 19001526
epigenetic; genetic; meningioma; restriction landmark genome scanning; WNK2
9.  Stage-specific alterations of Dnmt expression, DNA hypermethylation, and DNA hypomethylation during prostate cancer progression in the TRAMP model 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2008;6(8):1365-1374.
We analyzed DNA methyltransferase protein expression and DNA methylation patterns during four progressive stages of prostate cancer in the Transgenic Adenocarcinoma of Mouse Prostate (TRAMP) model, including prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), well differentiated tumors (WD), early poorly differentiated tumors (EPD), and late poorly differentiated tumors (LPD). Dnmt1, Dnmt3a, and Dnmt3b protein expression are increased in all stages, however, after normalization to Cyclin A to account for cell cycle regulation, Dnmt proteins remained over-expressed in PIN and WD, but not in poorly differentiated tumors. Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning (RLGS) analysis of locus-specific methylation revealed a high incidence of hypermethylation only in poorly differentiated (EPD and LPD) tumors. Several genes identified by RLGS showed hypermethylation of downstream regions correlating with mRNA overexpression, including p16INK4a, p19ARF, and Cacna1a. Parallel gene expression and DNA methylation analyses suggests that gene overexpression precedes downstream hypermethylation during prostate tumor progression. In contrast to gene hypermethylation, genomic DNA hypomethylation, including hypomethylation of repetitive elements and loss of genomic 5mdC, occurred in both early and late stages of prostate cancer. DNA hypermethylation and DNA hypomethylation did not correlate in TRAMP, and Dnmt protein expression did not correlate with either parameter, with the exception of a borderline significant association between Dnmt1 expression and DNA hypermethylation. In summary, our data reveal the relative timing of and relationship between key alterations of the DNA methylation pathway occurring during prostate tumor progression in an in vivo model system.
PMCID: PMC2835734  PMID: 18667590
TRAMP; DNA methylation; epigenetics; prostate cancer; DNA methyltransferase
10.  Mild folate deficiency induces genetic and epigenetic instability and phenotype changes in prostate cancer cells 
BMC Biology  2010;8:6.
Folate (vitamin B9) is essential for cellular proliferation as it is involved in the biosynthesis of deoxythymidine monophosphate (dTMP) and s-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet). The link between folate depletion and the genesis and progression of cancers of epithelial origin is of high clinical relevance, but still unclear. We recently demonstrated that sensitivity to low folate availability is affected by the rate of polyamine biosynthesis, which is prominent in prostate cells. We, therefore, hypothesized that prostate cells might be highly susceptible to genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic changes consequent to folate restriction.
We studied the consequences of long-term, mild folate depletion in a model comprised of three syngenic cell lines derived from the transgenic adenoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) model, recapitulating different stages of prostate cancer; benign, transformed and metastatic. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis demonstrated that mild folate depletion (100 nM) sufficed to induce imbalance in both the nucleotide and AdoMet pools in all prostate cell lines. Random oligonucleotide-primed synthesis (ROPS) revealed a significant increase in uracil misincorporation and DNA single strand breaks, while spectral karyotype analysis (SKY) identified five novel chromosomal rearrangements in cells grown with mild folate depletion. Using global approaches, we identified an increase in CpG island and histone methylation upon folate depletion despite unchanged levels of total 5-methylcytosine, indicating a broad effect of folate depletion on epigenetic regulation. These genomic changes coincided with phenotype changes in the prostate cells including increased anchorage-independent growth and reduced sensitivity to folate depletion.
This study demonstrates that prostate cells are highly susceptible to genetic and epigenetic changes consequent to mild folate depletion as compared to cells grown with supraphysiological amounts of folate (2 μM) routinely used in tissue culture. In addition, we elucidate for the first time the contribution of these aspects to consequent phenotype changes in epithelial cells. These results provide a strong rationale for studying the effects of folate manipulation on the prostate in vivo, where cells might be more sensitive to changes in folate status resulting from folate supplementation or antifolate therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC2845099  PMID: 20092614
11.  A novel role for mitochondria in regulating epigenetic modification in the nucleus 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(8):1182-1190.
Epigenetic modification in the nuclear genome plays a key role in human tumorigenesis. In this paper, we investigated whether changes in the mtDNA copy number frequently reported to vary in a number of human tumors induce methylation changes in the nucleus. We utilized the Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning (RLGS) to identify genes that undergo changes in their methylation status in response to the depletion and repletion of mtDNA. Our study demonstrates that depletion of mtDNA results in significant changes in methylation pattern of a number of genes. Furthermore, our study suggests that methylation changes are reversed by the restoration of mtDNA in cells otherwise lacking the entire mitochondrial genome. These studies provide the first direct evidence that mitochondria regulate epigenetic modification in the nucleus that may contribute to tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC2639623  PMID: 18458531
mitochondria; epigenetic; retrograde; mitochondrial DNA; mtDNA depletion; RLGS; OXPHOS; rho0
12.  Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning (RLGS) spot identification by second generation virtual RLGS in multiple genomes with multiple enzyme combinations 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:446.
Restriction landmark genomic scanning (RLGS) is one of the most successfully applied methods for the identification of aberrant CpG island hypermethylation in cancer, as well as the identification of tissue specific methylation of CpG islands. However, a limitation to the utility of this method has been the ability to assign specific genomic sequences to RLGS spots, a process commonly referred to as "RLGS spot cloning."
We report the development of a virtual RLGS method (vRLGS) that allows for RLGS spot identification in any sequenced genome and with any enzyme combination. We report significant improvements in predicting DNA fragment migration patterns by incorporating sequence information into the migration models, and demonstrate a median Euclidian distance between actual and predicted spot migration of 0.18 centimeters for the most complex human RLGS pattern. We report the confirmed identification of 795 human and 530 mouse RLGS spots for the most commonly used enzyme combinations. We also developed a method to filter the virtual spots to reduce the number of extra spots seen on a virtual profile for both the mouse and human genomes. We demonstrate use of this filter to simplify spot cloning and to assist in the identification of spots exhibiting tissue-specific methylation.
The new vRLGS system reported here is highly robust for the identification of novel RLGS spots. The migration models developed are not specific to the genome being studied or the enzyme combination being used, making this tool broadly applicable. The identification of hundreds of mouse and human RLGS spot loci confirms the strong bias of RLGS studies to focus on CpG islands and provides a valuable resource to rapidly study their methylation.
PMCID: PMC2235865  PMID: 18053125
13.  Global Methylation Profiling of Lung Cancer Identifies Novel Methylated Genes1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2001;3(4):314-323.
Epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, are a common finding in cancer. In lung cancers methylation of cytosine residues may affect tumor initiation and progression in several ways, including the silencing of tumor suppressor genes through promoter methylation and by providing the targets for adduct formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons present in combustion products of cigarette smoke. Although the importance of aberrant DNA methylation is well established, the extent of DNA methylation in lung cancers has never been determined. Restriction landmark genomic scanning (RLGS) is a highly reproducible two-dimensional gel electrophoresis that allows the determination of the methylation status of up to 2000 promoter sequences in a single gel. We selected 1184 CpG islands for RLGS analysis and determined their methylation status in 16 primary non-small cell lung cancers. Some tumors did not show methylation whereas others showed up to 5.3% methylation in all CpG islands of the profile. Cloning of 21 methylated loci identified 11 genes and 6 ESTs. We demonstrate that methylation is part of the silencing process of BMP3B in primary tumors and lung cancer cell lines.
PMCID: PMC1505864  PMID: 11571631
non-small cell lung cancer; DNA methylation; RLGS; genome scanning; epigenetic

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