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1.  Detection of Methylated Septin 9 in Tissue and Plasma of Colorectal Patients with Neoplasia and the Relationship to the Amount of Circulating Cell-Free DNA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115415.
Determination of methylated Septin 9 (mSEPT9) in plasma has been shown to be a sensitive and specific biomarker for colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the relationship between methylated DNA in plasma and colon tissue of the same subjects has not been reported.
Plasma and matching biopsy samples were collected from 24 patients with no evidence of disease (NED), 26 patients with adenoma and 34 patients with CRC. Following bisulfite conversion of DNA a commercial RT-PCR assay was used to determine the total amount of DNA in each sample and the fraction of mSEPT9 DNA. The Septin-9 protein was assessed using immunohistochemistry.
The percent of methylated reference (PMR) values for SEPT9 above a PMR threshold of 1% were detected in 4.2% (1/24) of NED, 100% (26/26) of adenoma and 97.1% (33/34) of CRC tissues. PMR differences between NED vs. adenoma and NED vs. CRC comparisons were significant (p<0.001). In matching plasma samples using a PMR cut-off level of 0.01%, SEPT9 methylation was 8.3% (2/24) of NED, 30.8% (8/26) of adenoma and 88.2% (30/34) of CRC. Significant PMR differences were observed between NED vs. CRC (p<0.01) and adenoma vs. CRC (p<0.01). Significant differences (p<0.01) were found in the amount of cfDNA (circulating cell-free DNA) between NED and CRC, and a modest correlation was observed between mSEPT9 concentration and cfDNA of cancer (R2 = 0.48). The level of Septin-9 protein in tissues was inversely correlated to mSEPT9 levels with abundant expression in normals, and diminished expression in adenomas and tumors.
Methylated SEPT9 was detected in all tissue samples. In plasma samples, elevated mSEPT9 values were detected in CRC, but not in adenomas. Tissue levels of mSEPT9 alone are not sufficient to predict mSEPT9 levels in plasma. Additional parameters including the amount of cfDNA in plasma appear to also play a role.
PMCID: PMC4272286  PMID: 25526039
2.  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
3.  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

Results 1-3 (3)