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author:("Lewin, jörg")
1.  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
2.  SHOX2 DNA Methylation is a Biomarker for the diagnosis of lung cancer based on bronchial aspirates 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:600.
This study aimed to show that SHOX2 DNA methylation is a tumor marker in patients with suspected lung cancer by using bronchial fluid aspirated during bronchoscopy. Such a biomarker would be clinically valuable, especially when, following the first bronchoscopy, a final diagnosis cannot be established by histology or cytology. A test with a low false positive rate can reduce the need for further invasive and costly procedures and ensure early treatment.
Marker discovery was carried out by differential methylation hybridization (DMH) and real-time PCR. The real-time PCR based HeavyMethyl technology was used for quantitative analysis of DNA methylation of SHOX2 using bronchial aspirates from two clinical centres in a case-control study. Fresh-frozen and Saccomanno-fixed samples were used to show the tumor marker performance in different sample types of clinical relevance.
Valid measurements were obtained from a total of 523 patient samples (242 controls, 281 cases). DNA methylation of SHOX2 allowed to distinguish between malignant and benign lung disease, i.e. abscesses, infections, obstructive lung diseases, sarcoidosis, scleroderma, stenoses, at high specificity (68% sensitivity [95% CI 62-73%], 95% specificity [95% CI 91-97%]).
Hypermethylation of SHOX2 in bronchial aspirates appears to be a clinically useful tumor marker for identifying subjects with lung carcinoma, especially if histological and cytological findings after bronchoscopy are ambiguous.
PMCID: PMC2988753  PMID: 21047392
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
4.  DNA Methylation Profiling of the Human Major Histocompatibility Complex: A Pilot Study for the Human Epigenome Project 
PLoS Biology  2004;2(12):e405.
The Human Epigenome Project aims to identify, catalogue, and interpret genome-wide DNA methylation phenomena. Occurring naturally on cytosine bases at cytosine–guanine dinucleotides, DNA methylation is intimately involved in diverse biological processes and the aetiology of many diseases. Differentially methylated cytosines give rise to distinct profiles, thought to be specific for gene activity, tissue type, and disease state. The identification of such methylation variable positions will significantly improve our understanding of genome biology and our ability to diagnose disease. Here, we report the results of the pilot study for the Human Epigenome Project entailing the methylation analysis of the human major histocompatibility complex. This study involved the development of an integrated pipeline for high-throughput methylation analysis using bisulphite DNA sequencing, discovery of methylation variable positions, epigenotyping by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry, and development of an integrated public database available at Our analysis of DNA methylation levels within the major histocompatibility complex, including regulatory exonic and intronic regions associated with 90 genes in multiple tissues and individuals, reveals a bimodal distribution of methylation profiles (i.e., the vast majority of the analysed regions were either hypo- or hypermethylated), tissue specificity, inter-individual variation, and correlation with independent gene expression data.
DNA is frequently modified by methylation, which can affect its function. The Human Epigenome Project aims to identify, catalog, and interpret DNA methylation throughout the genome
PMCID: PMC529316  PMID: 15550986

Results 1-4 (4)