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1.  DNA methylation profiling of human chromosomes 6, 20 and 22 
Nature genetics  2006;38(12):1378-1385.
DNA methylation constitutes the most stable type of epigenetic modifications modulating the transcriptional plasticity of mammalian genomes. Using bisulfite DNA sequencing, we report high-resolution methylation reference profiles of human chromosomes 6, 20 and 22, providing a resource of about 1.9 million CpG methylation values derived from 12 different tissues. Analysis of 6 annotation categories, revealed evolutionary conserved regions to be the predominant sites for differential DNA methylation and a core region surrounding the transcriptional start site as informative surrogate for promoter methylation. We find 17% of the 873 analyzed genes differentially methylated in their 5′-untranslated regions (5′-UTR) and about one third of the differentially methylated 5′-UTRs to be inversely correlated with transcription. While our study was controlled for factors reported to affect DNA methylation such as sex and age, we did not find any significant attributable effects. Our data suggest DNA methylation to be ontogenetically more stable than previously thought.
doi:10.1038/ng1909
PMCID: PMC3082778  PMID: 17072317
2.  Prospective evaluation of methylated SEPT9 in plasma for detection of asymptomatic colorectal cancer 
Gut  2013;63(2):317-325.
Background
As screening methods for colorectal cancer (CRC) are limited by uptake and adherence, further options are sought. A blood test might increase both, but none has yet been tested in a screening setting.
Objective
We prospectively assessed the accuracy of circulating methylated SEPT9 DNA (mSEPT9) for detecting CRC in a screening population.
Design
Asymptomatic individuals ≥50 years old scheduled for screening colonoscopy at 32 US and German clinics voluntarily gave blood plasma samples before colon preparation. Using a commercially available assay, three independent blinded laboratories assayed plasma DNA of all CRC cases and a stratified random sample of other subjects in duplicate real time PCRs. The primary outcomes measures were standardised for overall sensitivity and specificity estimates.
Results
7941 men (45%) and women (55%), mean age 60 years, enrolled. Results from 53 CRC cases and from 1457 subjects without CRC yielded a standardised sensitivity of 48.2% (95% CI 32.4% to 63.6%; crude rate 50.9%); for CRC stages I–IV, values were 35.0%, 63.0%, 46.0% and 77.4%, respectively. Specificity was 91.5% (95% CI 89.7% to 93.1%; crude rate 91.4%). Sensitivity for advanced adenomas was low (11.2%).
Conclusions
Our study using the blood based mSEPT9 test showed that CRC signal in blood can be detected in asymptomatic average risk individuals undergoing screening. However, the utility of the test for population screening for CRC will require improved sensitivity for detection of early cancers and advanced adenomas.
Clinical Trial Registration Number:
NCT00855348
doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-304149
PMCID: PMC3913123  PMID: 23408352
Colorectal Cancer Screening; Methylation; Colonoscopy; Colorectal Adenomas; Colorectal Neoplasm

Results 1-2 (2)