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1.  Copy number variations alter methylation and parallel IGF2 overexpression in adrenal tumors 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2015;22(6):953-967.
Overexpression of insulin growth factor 2 (IGF2) is a hallmark of adrenocortical carcinomas and pheochromocytomas. Previous studies investigating the IGF2/H19 locus have mainly focused on a single molecular level such as genomic alterations or altered DNA methylation levels and the causal changes underlying IGF2 overexpression are still not fully established. In the current study, we analyzed 62 tumors of the adrenal gland from patients with Conn's adenoma (CA, n=12), pheochromocytomas (PCC, n=10), adrenocortical benign tumors (ACBT, n=20), and adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC, n=20). Gene expression, somatic copy number variation of chr11p15.5, and DNA methylation status of three differential methylated regions of the IGF2/H19 locus including the H19 imprinting control region were integratively analyzed. IGF2 overexpression was found in 85% of the ACCs and 100% of the PCCs compared to 23% observed in CAs and ACBTs. Copy number aberrations of chr11p15.5 were abundant in both PCCs and ACCs but while PCCs retained a diploid state, ACCs were frequently tetraploid (7/19). Loss of either a single allele or loss of two alleles of the same parental origin in tetraploid samples resulted in a uniparental disomy-like genotype. These copy number changes correlated with hypermethylation of the H19 ICR suggesting that the lost alleles were the unmethylated maternal alleles. Our data provide conclusive evidence that loss of the maternal allele correlates with IGF2 overexpression in adrenal tumors and that hypermethylation of the H19 ICR is a consequence thereof.
PMCID: PMC4621769  PMID: 26400872
adrenocortical tumors; pheochromocytomas; IGF2; H19; cancer; imprinting; DNA methylation; copy number analysis; tetraploidy
2.  Synergistic chromatin repression of the tumor suppressor gene RARB in human prostate cancers 
Epigenetics  2014;9(4):477-482.
DNA methylation and polycomb proteins are well-known mediators of epigenetic silencing in mammalian cells. Usually described as mutually exclusive, this statement is today controversial and recent in vitro studies suggest the co-existence of both repressor systems. We addressed this issue in the study of Retinoic Acid Receptor β (RARβ), a tumor suppressor gene frequently silenced in prostate cancer. We found that the RARβ promoter is hypermethylated in all studied prostate tumors and methylation levels are positively correlated with H3K27me3 enrichments. Thus, by using bisulfite conversion and pyrosequencing of immunoprecipitated H3K27me3 chromatin, we demonstrated that DNA methylation and polycomb repression co-exist in vivo at this locus. We found this repressive association in 6/6 patient tumor samples of different Gleason score, suggesting a strong interplay of DNA methylation and EZH2 to silence RARβ during prostate tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC4121358  PMID: 24492483
DNA hypermethylation; EZH2; H3K27 trimethylation; polycomb protein; prostate cancer; retinoic acid receptor beta (RARβ)
3.  A novel tumor suppressor function of Kindlin-3 in solid cancer 
Oncotarget  2014;5(19):8970-8985.
Kindlin-3 (FERMT-3) is known to be central in hemostasis and thrombosis control and its deficiency disrupts platelet aggregation and causes Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency disease. Here we report that Kindlin-3 has a tumor suppressive role in solid cancer. Our present genetic and functional data show that Kindlin-3 is downregulated in several solid tumors by a mechanism involving gene hypermethylation and deletions. In vivo experiments demonstrated that Kindlin-3 knockdown in 2 tumor cell models (breast cancer and melanoma) markedly increases metastasis formation, in accord with the in vitro increase of tumor cell malignant properties. The metastatic phenotype was supported by a mechanism involving alteration in β3-integrin activation including decreased phosphorylation, interaction with talin and the internalization of its active form leading to less cell attachment and more migration/invasion. These data uncover a novel and unexpected tumor suppressor role of Kindin-3 which can influence integrins targeted therapies development.
PMCID: PMC4253411  PMID: 25344860
Tumor suppressor gene; Kindlin-3; Invasion/Migration; metastasis; Integrins
4.  Identification of Type 1 Diabetes–Associated DNA Methylation Variable Positions That Precede Disease Diagnosis 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(9):e1002300.
Monozygotic (MZ) twin pair discordance for childhood-onset Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is ∼50%, implicating roles for genetic and non-genetic factors in the aetiology of this complex autoimmune disease. Although significant progress has been made in elucidating the genetics of T1D in recent years, the non-genetic component has remained poorly defined. We hypothesized that epigenetic variation could underlie some of the non-genetic component of T1D aetiology and, thus, performed an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) for this disease. We generated genome-wide DNA methylation profiles of purified CD14+ monocytes (an immune effector cell type relevant to T1D pathogenesis) from 15 T1D–discordant MZ twin pairs. This identified 132 different CpG sites at which the direction of the intra-MZ pair DNA methylation difference significantly correlated with the diabetic state, i.e. T1D–associated methylation variable positions (T1D–MVPs). We confirmed these T1D–MVPs display statistically significant intra-MZ pair DNA methylation differences in the expected direction in an independent set of T1D–discordant MZ pairs (P = 0.035). Then, to establish the temporal origins of the T1D–MVPs, we generated two further genome-wide datasets and established that, when compared with controls, T1D–MVPs are enriched in singletons both before (P = 0.001) and at (P = 0.015) disease diagnosis, and also in singletons positive for diabetes-associated autoantibodies but disease-free even after 12 years follow-up (P = 0.0023). Combined, these results suggest that T1D–MVPs arise very early in the etiological process that leads to overt T1D. Our EWAS of T1D represents an important contribution toward understanding the etiological role of epigenetic variation in type 1 diabetes, and it is also the first systematic analysis of the temporal origins of disease-associated epigenetic variation for any human complex disease.
Author Summary
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a complex autoimmune disease affecting >30 million people worldwide. It is caused by a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors, leading to destruction of insulin-secreting cells. Although significant progress has recently been made in elucidating the genetics of T1D, the non-genetic component has remained poorly defined. Epigenetic modifications, such as methylation of DNA, are indispensable for genomic processes such as transcriptional regulation and are frequently perturbed in human disease. We therefore hypothesized that epigenetic variation could underlie some of the non-genetic component of T1D aetiology, and we performed a genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of a specific subset of immune cells (monocytes) from monozygotic twins discordant for T1D. This revealed the presence of T1D–specific methylation variable positions (T1D–MVPs) in the T1D–affected co-twins. Since these T1D–MVPs were found in MZ twins, they cannot be due to genetic differences. Additional experiments revealed that some of these T1D–MVPs are found in individuals before T1D diagnosis, suggesting they arise very early in the process that leads to overt T1D and are not simply due to post-disease associated factors (e.g. medication or long-term metabolic changes). T1D–MVPs may thus potentially represent a previously unappreciated, and important, component of type 1 diabetes risk.
PMCID: PMC3183089  PMID: 21980303

Results 1-4 (4)