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1.  Aberrant septin 9 DNA methylation in colorectal cancer is restricted to a single CpG island 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:398.
The septin 9 gene (SEPT9) codes for a GTP-binding protein associated with filamentous structures and cytoskeleton formation. SEPT9 plays a role in multiple cancers as either an oncogene or a tumor suppressor gene. Regulation of SEPT9 expression is complex and not well understood; however, hypermethylation of the gene was recently introduced as a biomarker for early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC) and has been linked to cancer of the breast and of the head and neck. Because the DNA methylation landscape of different regions of SEPT9 is poorly understood in cancer, we analyzed the methylation patterns of this gene in distinct cell populations from normal and diseased colon mucosa.
Laser capture microdissection was performed to obtain homogeneous populations of epithelial and stromal cells from normal, adenomatous, and tumorous colon mucosa. Microdissected samples were analyzed using direct bisulfite sequencing to determine the DNA methylation status of eight regions within and near the SEPT9 gene. Septin-9 protein expression was assessed using immunohistochemistry (IHC).
Regions analyzed in SEPT9 were unmethylated in normal tissue except for a methylation boundary detected downstream of the largest CpG island. In adenoma and tumor tissues, epithelial cells displayed markedly increased DNA methylation levels (>80%, p <0.0001) in only one of the CpG islands investigated. SEPT9 methylation in stromal cells increased in adenomatous and tumor tissues (≤50%, p <0.0001); however, methylation did not increase in stromal cells of normal tissue close to the tumor. IHC data indicated a significant decrease (p <0.01) in Septin-9 protein levels in epithelial cells derived from adenoma and tumor tissues; Septin-9 protein levels in stromal cells were low in all tissues.
Hypermethylation of SEPT9 in adenoma and CRC specimens is confined to one of several CpG islands of this gene. Tumor-associated aberrant methylation originates in epithelial cells; stromal cells appear to acquire hypermethylation subsequent to epithelial cells, possibly through field effects. The region in SEPT9 with disease-related hypermethylation also contains the CpGs targeted by a novel blood-based screening test (Epi proColon®), providing further support for the clinical relevance of this biomarker.
PMCID: PMC3837632  PMID: 23988185
DNA methylation; Septin 9; Colorectal cancer; Adenoma; Epithelial cells; Stromal cells; Direct bisulfite sequencing; Immunohistochemistry
2.  Genome-Wide Screen for Differential DNA Methylation Associated with Neural Cell Differentiation in Mouse 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26002.
Cellular differentiation involves widespread epigenetic reprogramming, including modulation of DNA methylation patterns. Using Differential Methylation Hybridization (DMH) in combination with a custom DMH array containing 51,243 features covering more than 16,000 murine genes, we carried out a genome-wide screen for cell- and tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs) in undifferentiated embryonic stem cells (ESCs), in in-vitro induced neural stem cells (NSCs) and 8 differentiated embryonic and adult tissues. Unsupervised clustering of the generated data showed distinct cell- and tissue-specific DNA methylation profiles, revealing 202 significant tDMRs (p<0.005) between ESCs and NSCs and a further 380 tDMRs (p<0.05) between NSCs/ESCs and embryonic brain tissue. We validated these tDMRs using direct bisulfite sequencing (DBS) and methylated DNA immunoprecipitation on chip (MeDIP-chip). Gene ontology (GO) analysis of the genes associated with these tDMRs showed significant (absolute Z score>1.96) enrichment for genes involved in neural differentiation, including, for example, Jag1 and Tcf4. Our results provide robust evidence for the relevance of DNA methylation in early neural development and identify novel marker candidates for neural cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3196508  PMID: 22028803
3.  CDO1 Promoter Methylation is a Biomarker for Outcome Prediction of Anthracycline Treated, Estrogen Receptor-Positive, Lymph Node-Positive Breast Cancer Patients 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:247.
Various biomarkers for prediction of distant metastasis in lymph-node negative breast cancer have been described; however, predictive biomarkers for patients with lymph-node positive (LNP) disease in the context of distinct systemic therapies are still very much needed. DNA methylation is aberrant in breast cancer and is likely to play a major role in disease progression. In this study, the DNA methylation status of 202 candidate loci was screened to identify those loci that may predict outcome in LNP/estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer patients with adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
Quantitative bisulfite sequencing was used to analyze DNA methylation biomarker candidates in a retrospective cohort of 162 LNP/ER+ breast cancer patients, who received adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy. First, twelve breast cancer specimens were analyzed for all 202 candidate loci to exclude genes that showed no differential methylation. To identify genes that predict distant metastasis, the remaining loci were analyzed in 84 selected cases, including the 12 initial ones. Significant loci were analyzed in the remaining 78 independent cases. Metastasis-free survival analysis was conducted by using Cox regression, time-dependent ROC analysis, and the Kaplan-Meier method. Pairwise multivariate regression analysis was performed by linear Cox Proportional Hazard models, testing the association between methylation scores and clinical parameters with respect to metastasis-free survival.
Of the 202 loci analysed, 37 showed some indication of differential DNA methylation among the initial 12 patient samples tested. Of those, 6 loci were associated with outcome in the initial cohort (n = 84, log rank test, p < 0.05).
Promoter DNA methylation of cysteine dioxygenase 1 (CDO1) was confirmed in univariate and in pairwise multivariate analysis adjusting for age at surgery, pathological T stage, progesterone receptor status, grade, and endocrine therapy as a strong and independent biomarker for outcome prediction in the independent validation set (log rank test p-value = 0.0010).
CDO1 methylation was shown to be a strong predictor for distant metastasis in retrospective cohorts of LNP/ER+ breast cancer patients, who had received adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2893112  PMID: 20515469

Results 1-3 (3)