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1.  Aberrant JAK/STAT Signaling Suppresses TFF1 and TFF2 through Epigenetic Silencing of GATA6 in Gastric Cancer 
Aberrant Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling is crucial to the development of gastric cancer. In this study, we examined the role of STAT3 in the expression and methylation of its targets in gastric cancer patients. Results from RNA sequencing identified an inverse correlation between the expression of STAT3 and GATA6 in 23 pairs of gastric cancer patient samples. We discovered that the expression of GATA6 is epigenetically silenced through promoter methylation in gastric cancer cell lines. Interestingly, the inhibition of STAT3 using a novel STAT3 inhibitor restored the expression of GATA6 and its targets, trefoil factors 1 and 2 (TFF1/2). Moreover, disruption of STAT3 binding to GATA6 promoter by small hairpin RNA restored GATA6 expression in AGS cells. A clinically significant correlation was also observed between the expression of GATA6 and TFF1/2 among tissue samples from 60 gastric cancer patients. Finally, bisulfite pyrosequencing revealed GATA6 methylation in 65% (39/60) of the patients, and those with higher GATA6 methylation tended to have shorter overall survival. In conclusion, we demonstrated that aberrant JAK/STAT signaling suppresses TFF1/2 partially through the epigenetic silencing of GATA6. Therapeutic intervention of STAT3 in reversing the epigenetic status of GATA6 could benefit the treatment of gastric cancer and is worthy of further investigation.
PMCID: PMC5037745  PMID: 27598141
epigenetic silencing; gastric cancer; TFF1; TFF2; GATA6; STAT3
2.  Epigenetic silencing of the NR4A3 tumor suppressor, by aberrant JAK/STAT signaling, predicts prognosis in gastric cancer 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:31690.
While aberrant JAK/STAT signaling is crucial to the development of gastric cancer (GC), its effects on epigenetic alterations of its transcriptional targets remains unclear. In this study, by expression microarrays coupled with bioinformatic analyses, we identified a putative STAT3 target gene, NR4A3 that was downregulated in MKN28 GC daughter cells overexpressing a constitutively activated STAT3 mutant (S16), as compared to an empty vector control (C9). Bisulphite pyrosequencing and demethylation treatment showed that NR4A3 was epigenetically silenced by promoter DNA methylation in S16 and other GC cell lines including AGS cells, showing constitutive activation of STAT3. Subsequent experiments revealed that NR4A3 promoter binding by STAT3 might repress its transcription. Long-term depletion of STAT3 derepressed NR4A3 expression, by promoter demethylation, in AGS GC cells. NR4A3 re-expression in GC cell lines sensitized the cells to cisplatin, and inhibited tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, in an animal model. Clinically, GC patients with high NR4A3 methylation, or lower NR4A3 protein expression, had significantly shorter overall survival. Intriguingly, STAT3 activation significantly associated only with NR4A3 methylation in low-stage patient samples. Taken together, aberrant JAK/STAT3 signaling epigenetically silences a potential tumor suppressor, NR4A3, in gastric cancer, plausibly representing a reliable biomarker for gastric cancer prognosis.
PMCID: PMC4985659  PMID: 27528092
3.  Methylomics analysis identifies ZNF671 as an epigenetically repressed novel tumor suppressor and a potential non-invasive biomarker for the detection of urothelial carcinoma 
Oncotarget  2015;6(30):29555-29572.
The molecular mechanism underlying the lethal phenomenon of urothelial carcinoma (UC) tumor recurrence remains unresolved. Here, by methylation microarray, we identified promoter methylation of the zinc-finger protein gene, ZNF671 in bladder UC tumor tissue samples, a finding that was independently validated by bisulphite pyrosequencing in cell lines and tissue samples. Subsequent assays including treatment with epigenetic depressive agents and in vitro methylation showed ZNF671 methylation to result in its transcriptional repression. ZNF671 re-expression in UC cell lines, via ectopic expression, inhibited tumor growth and invasion, in possible conjunction with downregulation of cancer stem cell markers (c-KIT, NANOG, OCT4). Clinically, high ZNF671 methylation in UC tumor tissues (n=96; 63 bladder, 33 upper urinary tract) associated with tumor grade and poor locoregional disease-free survival. Quantitative MSP analysis in a training (n=97) and test (n=61) sets of voided urine samples from bladder UC patients revealed a sensitivity and specificity of 42%-48% and 89%-92.8%, respectively, for UC cancer detection. Moreover, combining DNA methylation of ZNF671 and 2 other genes (IRF8 and sFRP1) further increased the sensitivity to 96.2%, suggesting a possible three-gene UC biomarker. In summary, ZNF671, an epigenetically silenced novel tumor suppressor, represents a potential predictor for UC relapse and non-invasive biomarker that could assist in UC clinical decision-making.
PMCID: PMC4745746  PMID: 26320192
urothelial carcinoma; DNA methylation; urine; ZNF671
4.  DNA methylome analysis identifies epigenetic silencing of FHIT as a determining factor for radiosensitivity in oral cancer: an outcome-predicting and treatment-implicating study 
Oncotarget  2014;6(2):915-934.
Radioresistance is still an emerging problem for radiotherapy of oral cancer. Aberrant epigenetic alterations play an important role in cancer development, yet the role of such alterations in radioresistance of oral cancer is not fully explored. Using a methylation microarray, we identified promoter hypermethylation of FHIT (fragile histidine triad) in radioresistant OML1-R cells, established from hypo-fractionated irradiation of parental OML1 radiosensitive oral cancer cells. Further analysis confirmed that transcriptional repression of FHIT was due to promoter hypermethylation, H3K27me3 and overexpression of methyltransferase EZH2 in OML1-R cells. Epigenetic interventions or depletion of EZH2 restored FHIT expression. Ectopic expression of FHIT inhibited tumor growth in both in vitro and in vivo models, while also resensitizing radioresistant cancer cells to irradiation, by restoring Chk2 phosphorylation and G2/M arrest. Clinically, promoter hypermethylation of FHIT inversely correlated with its expression and independently predicted both locoregional control and overall survival in 40 match-paired oral cancer patient samples. Further in vivo therapeutic experiments confirmed that inhibition of DNA methylation significantly resensitized radioresistant oral cancer cell xenograft tumors. These results show that epigenetic silencing of FHIT contributes partially to radioresistance and predicts clinical outcomes in irradiated oral cancer. The radiosensitizing effect of epigenetic interventions warrants further clinical investigation.
PMCID: PMC4359265  PMID: 25460508
Epigenetics; FHIT; oral cancer; radiotherapy; resistance
5.  FT-IR Microspectrometry Reveals the Variation of Membrane Polarizability due to Epigenomic Effect on Epithelial Ovarian Cancer 
Ovarian cancer, as well as other cancers, is primarily caused by methylation at cytosines in CpG islands, but the current marker for ovarian cancer is low in sensitivity and failed in early-stage detection. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy is powerful in analysis of functional groups within molecules, and infrared microscopy illustrates the location of specific groups within single cells. In this study, we applied HPLC and FT-IR microspectrometry to study normal epithelial ovarian cell line immortalized ovarian surface epithelium (IOSE), two epithelial ovarian cell lines (A2780 and CP70) with distinct properties, and the effect of a cancer drug 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza) without labeling. Our results reveal that inhibition of methylation on cytosine with 5-aza initiates the protein expression. Furthermore, paraffin-adsorption kinetic study allows us to distinguish hypermethylated and hypomethyated cells, and this assay can be a potential diagnosis method for cancer screening.
PMCID: PMC4227199  PMID: 25299694
FT-IR; methylation; paraffin-adsorption; ovarian cell; 5-aza
6.  DNA methylation profiles and biomarkers of oral squamous cell carcinoma  
Epigenetics  2015;10(3):229-236.
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) constitutes >90% of oral cancers and is the sixth most common malignancy among males worldwide and the fourth leading cause of death due to cancer among males in Taiwan. However, most patients do not receive a diagnosis of OSCC until the late stages, which have a lower survival rate. The use of molecular marker analysis to identify early-stage OSCC would permit optimal timing for treatments and consequently prolong survival. The aim of this study was to identify biomarkers of OSCC using the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel, which comprised a total of 1,505 CpG sites covering 807 genes. Samples of buccal mucosa resected from 40 OSCC patients and normal tissue samples obtained from 15 patients (normal mucosa from OSCC patients or from patients undergoing surgery unrelated to OSCC) were analyzed. Fms-related tyrosine kinase 4 (FLT4) methylation exhibited a perfect specificity for detecting OSCC, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.91 for both all-stage and early-stage OSCC. Methylation of 7 genes (ASCL1, FGF3, FLT4, GAS7, KDR, TERT, and TFPI2) constitutes the top-20 panels for detecting OSCC. The top-20 panels for detecting early-stage OSCC contain 8 genes: ADCYAP1, EPHA7, FLT4, GSTM2, KDR, MT1A, NPY, and TFPI2. FLT4 RNA expression and methylation level were validated using RT-PCR and a pyrosequencing methylation assay. The median level of FLT4 expression was 2.14-fold for normal relative to OSCC tissue samples (P < 0.0001). Among the 8 pyrosequenced FLT4 CpG sites, methylation level was much higher in the OSCC samples. In conclusion, methylation statuses of selected genes, and especially FLT4, KDR, and TFPI2, might be of great potential as biomarkers for early detection of buccal OSCC.
PMCID: PMC4622594  PMID: 25612142
DNA methylation array; oral squamous cell carcinoma; biomarkers; pyrosequencing; FLT4; KDR; TFPI2
7.  Guizhi Fuling Wan as a Novel Agent for Intravesical Treatment for Bladder Cancer in a Mouse Model 
Molecular Medicine  2016;22:64-73.
Alternative intravesical agents are required to overcome the side effects currently associated with the treatment of bladder cancer. This study used an orthotopic bladder cancer mouse model to evaluate Guizhi Fuling Wan (GFW) as an intravesical agent. The effects of GFW were compared with those of mitomycin-C (Mito-C) and bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG). We began by evaluating the response of the mouse bladder cancer cell line MB49 to GFW treatment, with regard to cell viability, cell cycle progression and apoptosis. MB49 cells were subsequently implanted into the urothelial walls of the bladder in female C57BL/6 mice. The success of the model was confirmed by the appearance of hematuria and tumor growth in the bladder. Intravesical chemotherapy was administered in accordance with a published protocol. In vitro data revealed that GFW arrested MB49 cell cycle in the G0/G1 phase, resulting in the suppression of cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. One possible mechanism underlying these effects is an increase in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels leading to the activation of ataxia telangiectasia-mutated (ATM)/checkpoint kinase 2 (CHK2) and ATM/P53 pathways, thereby mediating cell cycle progression and apoptosis, respectively. This mouse model demonstrates the effectiveness of GFW in the tumor growth, with results comparable to those achieved by using BCG and Mito-C. Furthermore, GFW was shown to cause only mild hematuria. The low toxicity of the compound was confirmed by a complete lack of lesions on bladder tissue, even after 10 consecutive treatments using high concentrations of GFW. These results demonstrate the potential of GFW for the intravesical therapy of bladder cancer.
PMCID: PMC5004708  PMID: 26837068
8.  Promoter hypermethylation of FBXO32, a novel TGF-β/SMAD4 target gene and tumor suppressor, is associated with poor prognosis in human ovarian cancer 
Resistance to TGF-β is frequently observed in ovarian cancer, and disrupted TGF-β/SMAD4 signaling results in aberrant expression of downstream target genes in the disease. Our previous study showed that ADAM19, a SMAD4 target gene, is down-regulated through epigenetic mechanisms in ovarian cancer with aberrant TGF-β/SMAD4 signaling. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of down-regulation of FBXO32, another SMAD4 target gene, and the clinical significance of loss of FBXO32 expression in ovarian cancer. Expression of FBXO32 was observed in normal ovarian surface epithelium but not in ovarian cancer cell lines. FBXO32 methylation was seen in ovarian cancer cell lines displaying constitutive TGF-β/SMAD4 signaling, and epigenetic drug treatment restored FBXO32 expression in ovarian cancer cell lines regardless of FBXO32 methylation status, suggesting that epigenetic regulation of this gene in ovarian cancer may be a common event. In advanced stage ovarian tumors, significant (29.3%; P<0.05) methylation frequency of FBXO32 was observed and the association between FBXO32 methylation and shorter progression-free survival was significant, as determined by both Kaplan-Meier analysis (P<0.05) and multivariate Cox regression analysis (hazard ratio 1.003, P<0.05). Re-expression of FBXO32 markedly reduced proliferation of a platinum-resistant ovarian cancer line both in vitro and in vivo, due to increased apoptosis of the cells, and resensitized ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin. In conclusion, the novel tumor suppressor FBXO32 is epigenetically silenced in ovarian cancer cell lines with disrupted TGF-β/SMAD4 signaling and FBXO32 methylation status predicts survival in patients with ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC2829100  PMID: 20065949
Ovarian cancer; epigenetics; TGF-β; FBXO32
9.  Hypomethylation signature of tumor-initiating cells predicts poor prognosis of ovarian cancer patients 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(7):1894-1906.
DNA methylation contributes to tumor formation, development and metastasis. Epigenetic dysregulation of stem cells is thought to predispose to malignant development. The clinical significance of DNA methylation in ovarian tumor-initiating cells (OTICs) remains unexplored. We analyzed the methylomic profiles of OTICs (CP70sps) and their derived progeny using a human methylation array. qRT–PCR, quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP) and pyrosequencing were used to verify gene expression and DNA methylation in cancer cell lines. The methylation status of genes was validated quantitatively in cancer tissues and correlated with clinicopathological factors. ATG4A and HIST1H2BN were hypomethylated in OTICs. Methylation analysis of ATG4A and HIST1H2BN by qMSP in 168 tissue samples from patients with ovarian cancer showed that HIST1H2BN methylation was a significant and independent predictor of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that patients with a low level of HIST1H2BN methylation had poor PFS (hazard ratio (HR), 4.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.4–14.8) and OS (HR, 4.3; 95% CI, 1.3–14.0). Hypomethylation of both ATG4A and HIST1H2BN predicted a poor PFS (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.0–3.6; median, 21 months) and OS (HR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0–3.0; median, 40 months). In an independent cohort of ovarian tumors, hypomethylation predicted early disease recurrence (HR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1–2.5) and death (HR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0–1.9). The demonstration that expression of ATG4A in cells increased their stem properties provided an indication of its biological function. Hypomethylation of ATG4A and HIST1H2BN in OTICs predicts a poor prognosis for ovarian cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3943526  PMID: 24256813
10.  Hypermethylation of the TGF-β target, ABCA1 is associated with poor prognosis in ovarian cancer patients 
Clinical Epigenetics  2015;7(1):1.
The dysregulation of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling plays a crucial role in ovarian carcinogenesis and in maintaining cancer stem cell properties. Classified as a member of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family, ABCA1 was previously identified by methylated DNA immunoprecipitation microarray (mDIP-Chip) to be methylated in ovarian cancer cell lines, A2780 and CP70. By microarray, it was also found to be upregulated in immortalized ovarian surface epithelial (IOSE) cells following TGF-β treatment. Thus, we hypothesized that ABCA1 may be involved in ovarian cancer and its initiation.
We first compared the expression level of ABCA1 in IOSE cells and a panel of ovarian cancer cell lines and found that ABCA1 was expressed in HeyC2, SKOV3, MCP3, and MCP2 ovarian cancer cell lines but downregulated in A2780 and CP70 ovarian cancer cell lines. The reduced expression of ABCA1 in A2780 and CP70 cells was associated with promoter hypermethylation, as demonstrated by bisulfite pyro-sequencing. We also found that knockdown of ABCA1 increased the cholesterol level and promoted cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Further analysis of ABCA1 methylation in 76 ovarian cancer patient samples demonstrated that patients with higher ABCA1 methylation are associated with high stage (P = 0.0131) and grade (P = 0.0137). Kaplan-Meier analysis also found that patients with higher levels of methylation of ABCA1 have shorter overall survival (P = 0.019). Furthermore, tissue microarray using 55 ovarian cancer patient samples revealed that patients with a lower level of ABCA1 expression are associated with shorter progress-free survival (P = 0.038).
ABCA1 may be a tumor suppressor and is hypermethylated in a subset of ovarian cancer patients. Hypermethylation of ABCA1 is associated with poor prognosis in these patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13148-014-0036-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4307187  PMID: 25628764
Ovarian cancer; Epigenetics; ABCA1
11.  A Mathematical Model of Bimodal Epigenetic Control of miR-193a in Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116050.
Accumulating data indicate that cancer stem cells contribute to tumor chemoresistance and their persistence alters clinical outcome. Our previous study has shown that ovarian cancer may be initiated by ovarian cancer initiating cells (OCIC) characterized by surface antigen CD44 and c-KIT (CD117). It has been experimentally demonstrated that a microRNA, namely miR-193a, targets c-KIT mRNA for degradation and could play a crucial role in ovarian cancer development. How miR-193a is regulated is poorly understood and the emerging picture is complex. To unravel this complexity, we propose a mathematical model to explore how estrogen-mediated up-regulation of another target of miR-193a, namely E2F6, can attenuate the function of miR-193a in two ways, one through a competition of E2F6 and c-KIT transcripts for miR-193a, and second by binding of E2F6 protein, in association with a polycomb complex, to the promoter of miR-193a to down-regulate its transcription. Our model predicts that this bimodal control increases the expression of c-KIT and that the second mode of epigenetic regulation is required to generate a switching behavior in c-KIT and E2F6 expressions. Additional analysis of the TCGA ovarian cancer dataset demonstrates that ovarian cancer patients with low expression of EZH2, a polycomb-group family protein, show positive correlation between E2F6 and c-KIT. We conjecture that a simultaneous EZH2 inhibition and anti-estrogen therapy can constitute an effective combined therapeutic strategy against ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC4278842  PMID: 25545504
12.  Epithelial Progeny of Estrogen-Exposed Breast Progenitor Cells Display a Cancer-like Methylome 
Cancer research  2008;68(6):1786-1796.
Estrogen imprinting is used to describe a phenomenon in which early developmental exposure to endocrine disruptors increases breast cancer risk later in adult life. We propose that long-lived, self-regenerating stem and progenitor cells are more susceptible to the exposure injury than terminally differentiated epithelial cells in the breast duct. Mammospheres, containing enriched breast progenitors, were used as an exposure system to simulate this imprinting phenomenon in vitro. Using MeDIP-chip, a methylation microarray screening method, we found that 0.5% (120 loci) of human CpG islands were hypermethylated in epithelial cells derived from estrogen-exposed progenitors compared with the non–estrogen-exposed control cells. This epigenetic event may lead to progressive silencing of tumor suppressor genes, including RUNX3, in these epithelial cells, which also occurred in primary breast tumors. Furthermore, normal tissue in close proximity to the tumor site also displayed RUNX3 hypermethylation, suggesting that this aberrant event occurs in early breast carcinogenesis. The high prevalence of estrogen-induced epigenetic changes in primary tumors and the surrounding histologically normal tissues provides the first empirical link between estrogen injury of breast stem/progenitor cells and carcinogenesis. This finding also offers a mechanistic explanation as to why a tumor suppressor gene, such as RUNX3, can be heritably silenced by epigenetic mechanisms in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4172329  PMID: 18339859
13.  Promoter hypermethylation and silencing of tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 in oral squamous cell carcinoma 
The treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) following early detection is associated with good outcomes. Therefore, the survival and prognosis of OSCC patients could be hugely improved by identifying reliable biomarkers for the early diagnosis of the disease. Our previous methylation microarray analysis results have suggested that the gene encoding tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) is a potential clinical predictor as well as a key regulator involved in OSCC malignancy.
Methylation of the TFPI-2 promoter in oral tissue specimens was evaluated by bisulfite sequencing assay, quantitative methylation-specific PCR, and pyrosequencing assay. The differences in methylation levels among the groups were compared using the Mann–Whitney U test. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) was used to evaluate the discrimination ability for detecting OSCC. Cellular TFPI-2 expression was analyzed by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR before and after treatment with 5′-aza-2′-deoxycytidine and trichostatin A, to confirm whether TFPI-2 was epigenetically silenced in OSCC cells. We investigated whether TFPI-2 plays a role as a tumor suppressor by establishing TFPI-2-overexpressing OSCC cells and subjecting them to in vitro cellular proliferation, migration, and invasion assays, as well as an in vivo metastasis assay.
TFPI-2 was hypermethylated in OSCC tissues versus normal oral tissues (P < 0.0001), with AUROC = 0.91, when using a pyrosequencing assay to quantify the methylation level. TFPI-2 silencing in OSCC was regulated by both DNA methylation and chromatin histone modification. Restoration of TFPI-2 counteracted the invasiveness of OSCC by inhibiting the enzymatic activity of matrix metalloproteinase-2, and consequently interfered with OSCC metastasis in vivo.
Our data suggest strongly that TFPI-2 is a down-regulated tumor suppressor gene in OSCC, probably involving epigenetic silencing mechanisms. The loss of TFPI-2 expression is a key event for oral tumorigenesis, especially in the process of tumor metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4160550  PMID: 25179542
Oral squamous cell carcinoma; DNA methylation; Biomarker; TFPI-2; Tumor suppressor gene; Metastasis; Matrix-associated serine protease inhibitor; Matrix metalloproteinase-2
14.  Low-Dose 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine Pretreatment Inhibits Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by Induction of Regulatory T Cells 
Molecular Medicine  2014;20(1):248-256.
Forkhead box P3 (Foxp3) is the major transcription factor controlling the development and function of regulatory T (Treg) cells. Previous studies have indicated epigenetic regulation of Foxp3 expression. Here, we investigated whether the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methyltransferase inhibitor 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) applied peripherally could modulate central nervous system (CNS) inflammation, by using a mouse experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. We found that disease activity was inhibited in a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) peptide–induced EAE mouse briefly pretreated with low-dose (0.15 mg/kg) 5-Aza, ameliorating significant CNS inflammatory responses, as indicated by greatly decreased proinflammatory cytokines. On the contrary, control EAE mice expressed high levels of IFN-γ and interleukin (IL)-17. In addition, 5-Aza treatment in vitro increased GFP expression in CD4+GFP− T cells isolated from GFP knock-in Foxp3 transgenic mice. Importantly, 5-Aza treatment increased Treg cell numbers, in EAE mice, at both disease onset and peak. However, Treg inhibition assays showed 5-Aza treatment did not enhance per-cell Treg inhibitory function, but did maintain a lower activation threshold for effector cells in EAE mice. In conclusion, 5-Aza treatment prevented EAE development and suppressed CNS inflammation, by increasing the number of Treg cells and inhibiting effector cells in the periphery.
PMCID: PMC4107100  PMID: 24869907
15.  ChIP-seq Defined Genome-Wide Map of TGFβ/SMAD4 Targets: Implications with Clinical Outcome of Ovarian Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22606.
Deregulation of the transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) signaling pathway in epithelial ovarian cancer has been reported, but the precise mechanism underlying disrupted TGFβ signaling in the disease remains unclear. We performed chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq) to investigate genome-wide screening of TGFβ-induced SMAD4 binding in epithelial ovarian cancer. Following TGFβ stimulation of the A2780 epithelial ovarian cancer cell line, we identified 2,362 SMAD4 binding loci and 318 differentially expressed SMAD4 target genes. Comprehensive examination of SMAD4-bound loci, revealed four distinct binding patterns: 1) Basal; 2) Shift; 3) Stimulated Only; 4) Unstimulated Only. TGFβ stimulated SMAD4-bound loci were primarily classified as either Stimulated only (74%) or Shift (25%), indicating that TGFβ-stimulation alters SMAD4 binding patterns in epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Furthermore, based on gene regulatory network analysis, we determined that the TGFβ-induced, SMAD4-dependent regulatory network was strikingly different in ovarian cancer compared to normal cells. Importantly, the TGFβ/SMAD4 target genes identified in the A2780 epithelial ovarian cancer cell line were predictive of patient survival, based on in silico mining of publically available patient data bases. In conclusion, our data highlight the utility of next generation sequencing technology to identify genome-wide SMAD4 target genes in epithelial ovarian cancer and link aberrant TGFβ/SMAD signaling to ovarian tumorigenesis. Furthermore, the identified SMAD4 binding loci, combined with gene expression profiling and in silico data mining of patient cohorts, may provide a powerful approach to determine potential gene signatures with biological and future translational research in ovarian and other cancers.
PMCID: PMC3143154  PMID: 21799915
16.  High Dickkopf-1 expression is associated with poor prognosis in patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma 
Although Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) has been demonstrated to be associated with tumorigenesis in various types of human tumors, a correlation between DKK1 and urothelial carcinoma (UC) has not been reported. In the present study, the correlation between DKK1 expression and UC progression was investigated. Seventy-five UC patients were enrolled. The expression of DKK1 in serum and UC tissue was detected by ELISA, real-time PCR and Western blotting. Prognostic significance was assessed by using Kaplan-Meier survival estimates and log-rank tests. The results showed that serum levels of DKK1 were significantly higher in the UC patients with muscle-invasive (p=0.0001) and high-grade tumors (p=0.00001) as compared to the controls. A high-serum DKK1 was also associated with poor disease-free survival in the UC patients (hazard ratio=2.44; 95% CI 1.10–5.40; p=0.028). Furthermore, DKK1 was also overexpressed in 93% (41/44) of the UC tissues. Therefore, the findings indicate that the expression of DKK1 is associated with UC progression.
PMCID: PMC3445958  PMID: 22993615
urothelial carcinoma; Dickkopf-1; disease-free survival
17.  Identification of candidate epigenetic biomarkers for ovarian cancer detection 
Oncology reports  2009;22(4):853-861.
Ovarian cancer ranks the most lethal among gynecologic neoplasms in women. To develop potential bio-markers for diagnosis, we have identified five novel genes (CYP39A1, GTF2A1, FOXD4L4, EBP, and HAAO) that are hypermethylated in ovarian tumors, compared with the non-malignant normal ovarian surface epithelia, using the quantitative methylation-specific polymerase chain reactions. Interestingly enough, multivariate Cox regression analysis has identified hypermethylation of CYP39A1 correlated with an increase rate of relapsing (P=0.032, hazard ratio >1). Concordant hypermethylation in at least three loci was observed in 50 out of 55 (91%) of ovarian tumors examined. The test sensitivity and specificity were assessed to be 96 and 67% for CYP39A1; 95 and 88% for GTF2A1; 93 and 67% for FOXD4L4; 81 and 67% for EBP; 89 and 82% for HAAO, respectively. Our data have identified, for the first time, GTF2A1 alone, or GTF2A1 plus HAAO are excellent candidate biomarkers for detecting this disease. Moreover, the known functions of these gene products further implicate dys-regulated transcriptional control, cholesterol metabolism, or synthesis of quinolinic acids, may play important roles in attributing to ovarian neoplasm. Molecular therapies, by reversing the aberrant epigenomes using inhibitory agents or by abrogating the upstream signaling pathways that convey the epigenomic perturbations, may be developed into promising treatment regimens.
PMCID: PMC2829240  PMID: 19724865
ovarian cancer; epigenetics; DNA methylation; biomarkers; quantitative methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction
18.  FOXP3 is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor gene and an important repressor of the HER-2/ErbB2 oncogene 
Cell  2007;129(7):1275-1286.
The X-linked Foxp3 is a member of the forkhead/winged helix transcription factor family. Germ-line mutations cause lethal autoimmune diseases in males. Serendipitously, we observed that Foxp3sf/+ heterozygous mice developed cancer at a high rate. The majority of the cancers were mammary carcinomas in which the wild-type Foxp3 allele was inactivated and ErbB2 was over-expressed. Foxp3 bound and repressed the ErbB2 promoter. Deletion, functionally significant somatic mutations and down-regulation of the FOXP3 gene were commonly found in human breast cancer samples and correlated significantly with HER-2 over-expression, regardless of the status of HER-2 amplification. In toto, the data demonstrate that FOXP3 is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor gene and an important regulator of the HER-2/ErbB2 oncogene.
PMCID: PMC1974845  PMID: 17570480

Results 1-18 (18)