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1.  Promoter hypomethylation of EpCAM-regulated bone morphogenetic protein gene family in recurrent endometrial cancer 
Purpose
Epigenetic regulation by promoter methylation plays a key role in tumorigenesis. Our goal was to investigate whether altered DNA methylation signatures associated with oncogenic signaling delineate biomarkers predictive of endometrial cancer recurrence.
Experimental Design
Methyl-CpG-capture sequencing was used for global screening of aberrant DNA methylation in our endometrial cancer cohort, followed by validation in an independent The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohort. Bioinformatics as well as functional analyses in vitro, using RNA interference (RNAi) knockdown, were performed to examine regulatory mechanisms of candidate gene expression and contribution to aggressive phenotype, such as epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT).
Results
We identified 2,302 hypermethylated loci in endometrial tumors compared with control samples. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) family genes, including BMP1, 2, 3, 4, and 7, were among the frequently hypermethylated loci. Interestingly, BMP2, 3, 4, and 7 were less methylated in primary tumors with subsequent recurrence and in patients with shorter diseasefree interval compared with nonrecurrent tumors, which was validated and associated with poor survival in the TCGA cohort (BMP4, P = 0.009; BMP7, P = 0.007). Stimulation of endometrial cancer cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF) induced EMT and transcriptional activation of these genes, which was mediated by the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). EGF signaling was implicated in maintaining the promoters of candidate BMP genes in an active chromatin configuration and thus subject to transcriptional activation.
Conclusions
Hypomethylation signatures of candidate BMP genes associated with EpCAM-mediated expression present putative biomarkers predictive of poor survival in endometrial cancer.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1734
PMCID: PMC4080631  PMID: 24077349
DNA methylation; EGF; BMP; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; and endometrial cancer recurrence
2.  Cancer epigenetics: a perspective on the role of DNA methylation in acquired endocrine resistance 
Chinese journal of cancer  2011;30(11):749-756.
Epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, are responsible for determining and maintaining cell fate, stably differentiating the various tissues in our bodies. Increasing evidence shows that DNA methylation plays a significant role in cancer, from the silencing of tumor suppressors to the activation of oncogenes and the promotion of metastasis. Recent studies also suggest a role for DNA methylation in drug resistance. This perspective article discusses how DNA methylation may contribute to the development of acquired endocrine resistance, with a focus on breast cancer. In addition, we discuss DNA methylome profiling and how recent developments in this field are shedding new light on the role of epigenetics in endocrine resistance. Hormone ablation is the therapy of choice for hormone-sensitive breast tumors, yet as many as 40% of patients inevitably relapse, and these hormone refractory tumors often have a poor prognosis. Epigenetic studies could provide DNA methylation biomarkers to predict and diagnose acquired resistance in response to treatment. Elucidation of epigenetic mechanisms may also lead to the development of new treatments that specifically target epigenetic abnormalities or vulnerabilities in cancer cells. Expectations must be tempered by the fact that epigenetic mechanisms of endocrine resistance remain poorly understood, and further study is required to better understand how altering epigenetic pathways with therapeutics can promote or inhibit endocrine resistance in different contexts. Going forward, DNA methylome profiling will become increasingly central to epigenetic research, heralding a network-based approach to epigenetics that promises to advance our understanding of the etiology of cancer in ways not previously possible.
doi:10.5732/cjc.011.10128
PMCID: PMC3890241  PMID: 22035855
Epigenetics; breast cancer; endocrine resistance; methylation; methylome profiling
3.  Comprehensive methylome analysis of ovarian tumors reveals hedgehog signaling pathway regulators as prognostic DNA methylation biomarkers 
Epigenetics  2013;8(6):624-634.
Women with advanced stage ovarian cancer (OC) have a five-year survival rate of less than 25%. OC progression is associated with accumulation of epigenetic alterations and aberrant DNA methylation in gene promoters acts as an inactivating ?hit? during OC initiation and progression. Abnormal DNA methylation in OC has been used to predict disease outcome and therapy response. To globally examine DNA methylation in OC, we used next-generation sequencing technology, MethylCap-sequencing, to screen 75 malignant and 26 normal or benign ovarian tissues. Differential DNA methylation regions (DMRs) were identified, and the Kaplan?Meier method and Cox proportional hazard model were used to correlate methylation with clinical endpoints. Functional role of specific genes identified by MethylCap-sequencing was examined in in vitro assays. We identified 577 DMRs that distinguished (p < 0.001) malignant from non-malignant ovarian tissues; of these, 63 DMRs correlated (p < 0.001) with poor progression free survival (PFS). Concordant hypermethylation and corresponding gene silencing of sonic hedgehog pathway members ZIC1 and ZIC4 in OC tumors was confirmed in a panel of OC cell lines, and ZIC1 and ZIC4 repression correlated with increased proliferation, migration and invasion. ZIC1 promoter hypermethylation correlated (p < 0.01) with poor PFS. In summary, we identified functional DNA methylation biomarkers significantly associated with clinical outcome in OC and suggest our comprehensive methylome analysis has significant translational potential for guiding the design of future clinical investigations targeting the OC epigenome. Methylation of ZIC1, a putative tumor suppressor, may be a novel determinant of OC outcome.
doi:10.4161/epi.24816
PMCID: PMC3857342  PMID: 23774800
DNA methylation; Hedgehog pathway; ZIC1; ZIC4; ovarian cancer
4.  Cancer epigenetics: a perspective on the role of DNA methylation in acquired endocrine resistance 
Chinese Journal of Cancer  2011;30(11):749-756.
Epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, are responsible for determining and maintaining cell fate, stably differentiating the various tissues in our bodies. Increasing evidence shows that DNA methylation plays a significant role in cancer, from the silencing of tumor suppressors to the activation of oncogenes and the promotion of metastasis. Recent studies also suggest a role for DNA methylation in drug resistance. This perspective article discusses how DNA methylation may contribute to the development of acquired endocrine resistance, with a focus on breast cancer. In addition, we discuss DNA methylome profiling and how recent developments in this field are shedding new light on the role of epigenetics in endocrine resistance. Hormone ablation is the therapy of choice for hormone-sensitive breast tumors, yet as many as 40% of patients inevitably relapse, and these hormone refractory tumors often have a poor prognosis. Epigenetic studies could provide DNA methylation biomarkers to predict and diagnose acquired resistance in response to treatment. Elucidation of epigenetic mechanisms may also lead to the development of new treatments that specifically target epigenetic abnormalities or vulnerabilities in cancer cells. Expectations must be tempered by the fact that epigenetic mechanisms of endocrine resistance remain poorly understood, and further study is required to better understand how altering epigenetic pathways with therapeutics can promote or inhibit endocrine resistance in different contexts. Going forward, DNA methylome profiling will become increasingly central to epigenetic research, heralding a network-based approach to epigenetics that promises to advance our understanding of the etiology of cancer in ways not previously possible.
doi:10.5732/cjc.011.10128
PMCID: PMC3890241  PMID: 22035855
Epigenetics; breast cancer; endocrine resistance; methylation; methylome profiling
5.  Epigenetic deregulation of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene modulates mesenchymal characteristics of oral squamous cell carcinomas 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(8):1717-1727.
DNA hypermethylation of promoter CpG islands is associated with epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes in oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs). We used a methyl-CpG-binding domain protein capture method coupled with next-generation sequencing (MBDCap-seq) to survey global DNA methylation patterns in OSCCs with and without nodal metastasis and normal mucosa (total n = 58). Of 1462 differentially methylated CpG islands identified in OSCCs relative to normal controls, MBDCap-seq profiling uncovered 359 loci linked to lymph node metastasis. Interactive network analysis revealed a subset of these loci (n = 23), including the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene, are potential regulators and effectors of invasiveness and metastatic progression. Promoter methylation of ALK was preferentially observed in OSCCs without node metastasis, whereas relatively lower methylation levels were present in metastatic tumors, implicating an active state of ALK transcription in the latter group. The OSCC cell line, SCC4, displayed reduced ALK expression that corresponded to extensive promoter CpG island methylation. SCC4 treatment with demethylating agents induced ALK expression and increased invasion and migration characteristics. Inhibition of ALK activity in OSCC cells with high ALK expression (CAL27, HSC3 and SCC25), decreased cell growth and resulted in changes in invasive potential and mesenchymal marker expression that were cell-line dependent. Although ALK is susceptible to epigenetic silencing during oral tumorigenesis, overwriting this default state may be necessary for modulating invasive processes involved in nodal metastases. Given the complex response of OSCC cells to ALK inhibition, future studies are required to assess the feasibility of targeting ALK to treat invasive OSCCs.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt112
PMCID: PMC3731802  PMID: 23568951
6.  Estrogen response in luminal breast cancer 
Oncotarget  2013;4(10):1548-1549.
PMCID: PMC3858541  PMID: 24077736
7.  High-fat or ethinyl-oestradiol intake during pregnancy increases mammary cancer risk in several generations of offspring 
Nature communications  2012;3:1053.
Maternal exposures to environmental factors during pregnancy influence the risk of many chronic adult-onset diseases in the offspring. Here we investigate whether feeding pregnant rats a high-fat (HF)- or ethinyl-oestradiol (EE2)-supplemented diet affects carcinogen-induced mammary cancer risk in daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters. We show that mammary tumourigenesis is higher in daughters and granddaughters of HF rat dams and in daughters and great-granddaughters of EE2 rat dams. Outcross experiments suggest that the increase in mammary cancer risk is transmitted to HF granddaughters equally through the female or male germ lines, but it is only transmitted to EE2 granddaughters through the female germ line. The effects of maternal EE2 exposure on offspring’s mammary cancer risk are associated with changes in the DNA methylation machinery and methylation patterns in mammary tissue of all three EE2 generations. We conclude that dietary and oestrogenic exposures in pregnancy increase breast cancer risk in multiple generations of offspring, possibly through epigenetic means.
doi:10.1038/ncomms2058
PMCID: PMC3570979  PMID: 22968699
8.  Integrative genome-wide chromatin signature analysis using finite mixture models 
BMC Genomics  2012;13(Suppl 6):S3.
Regulation of gene expression has been shown to involve not only the binding of transcription factor at target gene promoters but also the characterization of histone around which DNA is wrapped around. Some histone modification, for example di-methylated histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me2), has been shown to bind to promoters and activate target genes. However, no clear pattern has been shown to predict human promoters. This paper proposed a novel quantitative approach to characterize patterns of promoter regions and predict novel and alternative promoters. We utilized high-throughput data generated using chromatin immunoprecipitation methods followed by massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) technology on RNA Polymerase II (Pol-II) and H3K4me2. Common patterns of promoter regions are modeled using a mixture model involving double-exponential and uniform distributions. The fitted model obtained were then used to search for regions displaying similar patterns over the entire genome to find novel and alternative promoters. Regions with high correlations with the common patterns are identified as putative novel promoters. We used this proposed algorithm, RNA-seq data and several transcripts databases to find alternative promoters in MCF7 (normal breast cancer) cell line. We found 7,235 high-confidence regions that display the identified promoter patterns. Of these, 4,167 regions (58%) can be mapped to RefSeq regions. 2,444 regions are in a gene body or overlap with transcripts (non-coding RNAs, ESTs, and transcripts that are predicted by RNA-seq data). Some of these maybe potential alternative promoters. We also found 193 regions that map to enhancer regions (represented by androgen and estrogen receptor binding sites) and other regulatory regions such as CTCF (CCCTC binding factor) and CpG island. Around 5% (431 regions) of these correlated regions do not overlap with any transcripts or regulatory regions suggesting that these might be potential new promoters or markers for other annotation which are currently undiscovered.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-S6-S3
PMCID: PMC3481451  PMID: 23134707
9.  Downregulation of the tumor-suppressor miR-16 via progestin-mediated oncogenic signaling contributes to breast cancer development 
Introduction
Experimental and clinical evidence points to a critical role of progesterone and the nuclear progesterone receptor (PR) in controlling mammary gland tumorigenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms of progesterone action in breast cancer still remain elusive. On the other hand, micro RNAs (miRNAs) are short ribonucleic acids which have also been found to play a pivotal role in cancer pathogenesis. The role of miRNA in progestin-induced breast cancer is poorly explored. In this study we explored progestin modulation of miRNA expression in mammary tumorigenesis.
Methods
We performed a genome-wide study to explore progestin-mediated regulation of miRNA expression in breast cancer. miR-16 expression was studied by RT-qPCR in cancer cell lines with silenced PR, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) or c-Myc, treated or not with progestins. Breast cancer cells were transfected with the precursor of miR-16 and proliferation assays, Western blots or in vivo experiments were performed. Target genes of miR-16 were searched through a bioinformatical approach, and the study was focused on cyclin E. Reporter gene assays were performed to confirm that cyclin E 3'UTR is a direct target of miR-16.
Results
We found that nine miRNAs were upregulated and seven were downregulated by progestin in mammary tumor cells. miR-16, whose function as a tumor suppressor in leukemia has already been shown, was identified as one of the downregulated miRNAs in murine and human breast cancer cells. Progestin induced a decrease in miR-16 levels via the classical PR and through a hierarchical interplay between Stat3 and the oncogenic transcription factor c-Myc. A search for miR-16 targets showed that the CCNE1 gene, encoding the cell cycle regulator cyclin E, contains conserved putative miR-16 target sites in its mRNA 3' UTR region. We found that, similar to the molecular mechanism underlying progestin-modulated miR-16 expression, Stat3 and c-Myc participated in the induction of cyclin E expression by progestin. Moreover, overexpression of miR-16 abrogated the ability of progestin to induce cyclin E upregulation, revealing that cyclin E is a novel target of miR-16 in breast cancer. Overexpression of miR-16 also inhibited progestin-induced breast tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, demonstrating for the first time, a role for miR-16 as a tumor suppressor in mammary tumorigenesis. We also found that the ErbB ligand heregulin (HRG) downregulated the expression of miR-16, which then participates in the proliferative activity of HRG in breast tumor cells.
Conclusions
In this study, we reveal the first progestin-regulated miRNA expression profile and identify a novel role for miR-16 as a tumor suppressor in progestin- and growth factor-induced growth in breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/bcr3187
PMCID: PMC3446340  PMID: 22583478
10.  Integrated analysis identifies a class of androgen-responsive genes regulated by short combinatorial long-range mechanism facilitated by CTCF 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(11):4754-4764.
Recently, much attention has been given to elucidate how long-range gene regulation comes into play and how histone modifications and distal transcription factor binding contribute toward this mechanism. Androgen receptor (AR), a key regulator of prostate cancer, has been shown to regulate its target genes via distal enhancers, leading to the hypothesis of global long-range gene regulation. However, despite numerous flows of newly generated data, the precise mechanism with respect to AR-mediated long-range gene regulation is still largely unknown. In this study, we carried out an integrated analysis combining several types of high-throughput data, including genome-wide distribution data of H3K4 di-methylation (H3K4me2), CCCTC binding factor (CTCF), AR and FoxA1 cistrome data as well as androgen-regulated gene expression data. We found that a subset of androgen-responsive genes was significantly enriched near AR/H3K4me2 overlapping regions and FoxA1 binding sites within the same CTCF block. Importantly, genes in this class were enriched in cancer-related pathways and were downregulated in clinical metastatic versus localized prostate cancer. Our results suggest a relatively short combinatorial long-range regulation mechanism facilitated by CTCF blocking. Under such a mechanism, H3K4me2, AR and FoxA1 within the same CTCF block combinatorially regulate a subset of distally located androgen-responsive genes involved in prostate carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks139
PMCID: PMC3367180  PMID: 22344698
11.  An empirical Bayes model for gene expression and methylation profiles in antiestrogen resistant breast cancer 
BMC Medical Genomics  2010;3:55.
Background
The nuclear transcription factor estrogen receptor alpha (ER-alpha) is the target of several antiestrogen therapeutic agents for breast cancer. However, many ER-alpha positive patients do not respond to these treatments from the beginning, or stop responding after being treated for a period of time. Because of the association of gene transcription alteration and drug resistance and the emerging evidence on the role of DNA methylation on transcription regulation, understanding of these relationships can facilitate development of approaches to re-sensitize breast cancer cells to treatment by restoring DNA methylation patterns.
Methods
We constructed a hierarchical empirical Bayes model to investigate the simultaneous change of gene expression and promoter DNA methylation profiles among wild type (WT) and OHT/ICI resistant MCF7 breast cancer cell lines.
Results
We found that compared with the WT cell lines, almost all of the genes in OHT or ICI resistant cell lines either do not show methylation change or hypomethylated. Moreover, the correlations between gene expression and methylation are quite heterogeneous across genes, suggesting the involvement of other factors in regulating transcription. Analysis of our results in combination with H3K4me2 data on OHT resistant cell lines suggests a clear interplay between DNA methylation and H3K4me2 in the regulation of gene expression. For hypomethylated genes with alteration of gene expression, most (~80%) are up-regulated, consistent with current view on the relationship between promoter methylation and gene expression.
Conclusions
We developed an empirical Bayes model to study the association between DNA methylation in the promoter region and gene expression. Our approach generates both global (across all genes) and local (individual gene) views of the interplay. It provides important insight on future effort to develop therapeutic agent to re-sensitize breast cancer cells to treatment.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-3-55
PMCID: PMC3003621  PMID: 21108837
12.  Hypomethylation and Aberrant Expression of the Glioma Pathogenesis-Related 1 Gene in Wilms Tumors 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2007;9(11):970-978.
Wilms tumors (WTs) have a complex etiology, displaying genetic and epigenetic changes, including loss of imprinting (LOI) and tumor suppressor gene silencing. To identify new regions of epigenetic perturbation in WTs, we screened kidney and tumor DNA using CpG island (CGI) tags associated with cancer-specific DNA methylation changes. One such tag corresponded to a paralog of the glioma pathogenesis-related 1/related to testis-specific, vespid, and pathogenesis proteins 1 (GLIPR1/RTVP-1) gene, previously reported to be a tumor-suppressor gene silenced by hypermethylation in prostate cancer. Here we report methylation analysis of the GLIPR1/RTVP-1 gene in WTs and normal fetal and pediatric kidneys. Hypomethylation of the GLIPR1/RTVP-1 5′-region in WTs relative to normal tissue is observed in 21/24 (87.5%) of WTs analyzed. Quantitative analysis of GLIPR1/RTVP-1 expression in 24 WTs showed elevated transcript levels in 16/24 WTs (67%), with 12 WTs displaying in excess of 20-fold overexpression relative to fetal kidney (FK) control samples. Immunohistochemical analysis of FK and WT corroborates the RNA expression data and reveals high GLIPR1/RTVP-1 in WT blastemal cells together with variable levels in stromal and epithelial components. Hypomethylation is also evident in the WT precursor lesions and nephrogenic rests (NRs), supporting a role for GLIPR1/RTVP-1 deregulation early in Wilms tumorigenesis. Our data show that, in addition to gene dosage changes arising from LOI and hypermethylation-induced gene silencing, gene activation resulting from hypomethylation is also prevalent in WTs.
PMCID: PMC2077888  PMID: 18030365
Wilms tumor; epigenetics; hypomethylation;  GLIPR1/RTVP-1 ; overexpression
13.  Epigenetic Silencing of the Protocadherin Family Member PCDH-γ-A11 in Astrocytomas1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2005;7(3):193-199.
Abstract
In a microarray-based methylation analysis of astrocytomas [World Health Organization (WHO) grade II], we identified a CpG island within the first exon of the protocadherin-γ subfamily A11 (PCDH-γ-A11) gene that showed hypermethylation compared to normal brain tissue. Bisulfite sequencing and combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) was performed to screen low- and high-grade astrocytomas for the methylation status of this CpG island. Hypermethylation was detected in 30 of 34 (88%) astrocytomas (WHO grades II and III), 20 of 23 (87%) glioblastomas (WHO grade IV), and 8 of 8 (100%) glioma cell lines. There was a highly significant correlation (P = .00028) between PCDH-γ-A11 hypermethylation and decreased transcription as determined by competitive reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in WHO grades II and III astrocytomas. After treatment of glioma cell lines with a demethylating agent, transcription of PCDH-γ-A11 was restored. In summary, we have identified PCDH-γ-A11 as a new target silenced epigenetically in astrocytic gliomas. The inactivation of this cell-cell contact molecule might be involved in the invasive growth of astrocytoma cells into normal brain parenchyma.
PMCID: PMC1501138  PMID: 15799819
Glioma; PCDH-γ-A11; methylation; cRT-PCR; expression
14.  A novel technique for the identification of CpG islands exhibiting altered methylation patterns (ICEAMP) 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(24):e123.
Aberrant CpG methylation changes occurring during tumour progression include the loss (hypomethylation) and gain (hypermethylation) of methyl groups. Techniques currently available for examining such changes either require selection of a region, then examination of methylation changes, or utilise methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes to identify an alteration. We describe here a novel method that identifies genomic regions as a consequence of altered methylation during tumourigenesis. A methyl-CpG binding domain column isolates methylated GC-rich sequences from both tumours and surrounding normal tissue. Subsequent subtractive hybridisation removes sequences common to both, leaving only methylated sequences unique to the tumour. Libraries of sequences generated using DNA derived from a breast tumour (histological grade; poorly differentiated) as ‘tester’ and from matched normal tissue as ‘driver’ were examined; 26% of clones had the sequence criteria of a CpG island (CGI). Analysis using the bisulfite technique revealed that a number of these sequences were methylated in tumour DNA relative to the normal control. We have therefore demonstrated the ability of this technique, the identification of CGI exhibiting altered methylation patterns (ICEAMP), to isolate tumour-specific methylated GC-rich sequences. This will allow a comprehensive identification of methylation changes during tumourigenesis and will lead to a better understanding of the processes involved.
PMCID: PMC97633  PMID: 11812860
15.  High-fat or ethinyl-oestradiol intake during pregnancy increases mammary cancer risk in several generations of offspring 
Nature Communications  2012;3:1053-.
Maternal exposures to environmental factors during pregnancy influence the risk of many chronic adult-onset diseases in the offspring. Here we investigate whether feeding pregnant rats a high-fat (HF)- or ethinyl-oestradiol (EE2)-supplemented diet affects carcinogen-induced mammary cancer risk in daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters. We show that mammary tumourigenesis is higher in daughters and granddaughters of HF rat dams and in daughters and great-granddaughters of EE2 rat dams. Outcross experiments suggest that the increase in mammary cancer risk is transmitted to HF granddaughters equally through the female or male germ lines, but it is only transmitted to EE2 granddaughters through the female germ line. The effects of maternal EE2 exposure on offspring's mammary cancer risk are associated with changes in the DNA methylation machinery and methylation patterns in mammary tissue of all three EE2 generations. We conclude that dietary and oestrogenic exposures in pregnancy increase breast cancer risk in multiple generations of offspring, possibly through epigenetic means.
Environmental factors can influence one's susceptibility to cancer, but it is not clear whether such an influence extends beyond the directly exposed generations. Here, feeding pregnant rats with a high-fat diet or a hormone derivative, the authors observe increased breast cancer risk in up to three subsequent generations.
doi:10.1038/ncomms2058
PMCID: PMC3570979  PMID: 22968699

Results 1-15 (15)