Spreading of Alu methylation to the promoter of the MLH1 gene in gastrointestinal cancer.
ABSTRACT: The highly repetitive Alu retroelements are regarded as methylation centres in the genome. Methylation in the gene promoters could be spreading from them. Promoter methylation of MLH1 is frequently detected in cancers, but the underlying mechanism is unclear. The aim of this study is to understand whether the methylation in the Alu elements is associated with promoter methylation in the MLH1 gene. Bisulfite genomic sequencing was used to analyse the CpG sites of the 5' end (promoter, exon 1 and Alu-containing intron 1) of the MLH1 gene in colorectal cancer cells and tissues, and gastric cancer tissues. Hypomethylation in the Alu elements and hypermethylation in the promoters and the regions between the promoters and the Alu elements were detected in two cancer cell lines and seven cancer tissues. However, demethylation or hypomethylation of the MLH1 promoter and regions between promoter and the Alu elements, and hypermethylation in the Alu elements, were identified in the normal tissues. MLH1 promoter methylation may spread from Alu elements that are located in intron 1 of the MLH1 gene. The trans-acting elements binding to the mutation sites could play a role in the methylation spreading.
Project description:The changes in DNA methylation status in cancer cells are characterized by hypermethylation of promoter CpG islands and diffuse genomic hypomethylation. Alu and long interspersed nucleotide element-1 (LINE-1) are non-coding genomic repetitive sequences and methylation of these elements can be used as a surrogate marker for genome-wide methylation status. This study was designed to evaluate the changes of Alu and LINE-1 hypomethylation during breast cancer progression from normal to pre-invasive lesions and invasive breast cancer (IBC), and their relationship with characteristics of IBC. We analyzed the methylation status of Alu and LINE-1 in 145 cases of breast samples including normal breast tissue, atypical ductal hyperplasia/flat epithelial atypia (ADH/FEA), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and IBC, and another set of 129 cases of IBC by pyrosequencing. Alu methylation showed no significant changes during multistep progression of breast cancer, although it tended to decrease during the transition from DCIS to IBC. In contrast, LINE-1 methylation significantly decreased from normal to ADH/FEA, while it was similar in ADH/FEA, DCIS and IBC. In IBC, Alu hypomethylation correlated with negative estrogen receptor (ER) status, and LINE-1 hypomethylation was associated with negative ER status, ERBB2 (HER2) amplification and p53 overexpression. Alu and LINE-1 methylation status was significantly different between breast cancer subtypes, and the HER2 enriched subtype had lowest methylation levels. In survival analyses, low Alu methylation status tended to be associated with poor disease-free survival of the patients. Our findings suggest that LINE-1 hypomethylation is an early event and Alu hypomethylation is probably a late event during breast cancer progression, and prominent hypomethylation of Alu and LINE-1 in HER2 enriched subtype may be related to chromosomal instability of this specific subtype.
Project description:The human placenta is hypomethylated compared to somatic tissues. However, the degree and specificity of placental hypomethylation across the genome is unclear. We assessed genome-wide methylation of the human placenta and compared it to that of the neutrophil, a representative homogeneous somatic cell. We observed global hypomethylation in placenta (relative reduction of 22%) compared to neutrophils. Placental hypomethylation was pronounced in intergenic regions and gene bodies, while the unmethylated state of the promoter remained conserved in both tissues. For every class of repeat elements, the placenta showed lower methylation but the degree of hypomethylation differed substantially between these classes. However, some retroelements, especially the evolutionarily younger Alu elements, retained high levels of placental methylation. Surprisingly, nonretrotransposon-containing sequences showed a greater degree of placental hypomethylation than retrotransposons in every genomic element (intergenic, introns, and exons) except promoters. The differentially methylated fragments (DMFs) in placenta and neutrophils were enriched in gene-poor and CpG-poor regions. The placentally hypomethylated DMFs were enriched in genomic regions that are usually inactive, whereas hypermethylated DMFs were enriched in active regions. Hypomethylation of the human placenta is not specific to retroelements, indicating that the evolutionary advantages of placental hypomethylation go beyond those provided by expression of retrotransposons and retrogenes.
Project description:Cancer cells exhibit multiple epigenetic changes with prominent local DNA hypermethylation and widespread hypomethylation affecting large chromosomal domains. Epigenome studies often disregard the study of repeat elements owing to technical complexity and their undefined role in genome regulation. We have developed NSUMA (Next-generation Sequencing of UnMethylated Alu), a cost-effective approach allowing the unambiguous interrogation of DNA methylation in more than 130,000 individual Alu elements, the most abundant retrotransposon in the human genome. DNA methylation profiles of Alu repeats have been analyzed in colon cancers and normal tissues using NSUMA and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing. Normal cells show a low proportion of unmethylated Alu (1%-4%) that may increase up to 10-fold in cancer cells. In normal cells, unmethylated Alu elements tend to locate in the vicinity of functionally rich regions and display epigenetic features consistent with a direct impact on genome regulation. In cancer cells, Alu repeats are more resistant to hypomethylation than other retroelements. Genome segmentation based on high/low rates of Alu hypomethylation allows the identification of genomic compartments with differential genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptomic features. Alu hypomethylated regions show low transcriptional activity, late DNA replication, and its extent is associated with higher chromosomal instability. Our analysis demonstrates that Alu retroelements contribute to define the epigenetic landscape of normal and cancer cells and provides a unique resource on the epigenetic dynamics of a principal, but largely unexplored, component of the primate genome.
Project description:Cancer germline (CG) antigens are frequently expressed and hypomethylated in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), but the relationship of this phenomenon to global DNA hypomethylation is unknown. In addition, the potential mechanisms leading to DNA hypomethylation, and its clinicopathologic significance in EOC, have not been determined.We used quantitative mRNA expression and DNA methylation analyses to determine the relationship between expression and methylation of X-linked (MAGE-A1, NY-ESO-1, XAGE-1) and autosomal (BORIS, SOHLH2) CG genes, global DNA methylation (5mdC levels, LINE-1, Alu, and Sat-? methylation), and clinicopathology, using 75 EOC samples. In addition, we examined the association between these parameters and a number of mechanisms proposed to contribute to DNA hypomethylation in cancer.CG genes were coordinately expressed in EOC and this was associated with promoter DNA hypomethylation. Hypomethylation of CG promoters was highly correlated and strongly associated with LINE-1 and Alu methylation, moderately with 5mdC levels, and rarely with Sat-? methylation. BORIS and LINE-1 hypomethylation, and BORIS expression, were associated with advanced stage. GADD45A expression, MTHFR genotype, DNMT3B isoform expression, and BORIS mRNA expression did not associate with methylation parameters. In contrast, the BORIS/CTCF expression ratio was associated with DNA hypomethylation, and furthermore correlated with advanced stage and decreased survival.DNA hypomethylation coordinately affects CG antigen gene promoters and specific repetitive DNA elements in EOC, and correlates with advanced stage disease. The BORIS/CTCF mRNA expression ratio is closely associated with DNA hypomethylation and confers poor prognosis in EOC.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Alu methylation is correlated with the overall level of DNA methylation and recombination activity of the genome. However, the maintenance and methylation status of each CpG site within Alu elements (Alu) and its methylation status have not well characterized. This information is useful for understanding natural status of Alu in the genome and helpful for developing an optimal assay to quantify Alu hypomethylation. METHODS: Bisulfite clone sequencing was carried out in 14 human gastric samples initially. A Cac8I COBRA-DHPLC assay was developed to detect methylated-Alu proportion in cell lines and 48 paired gastric carcinomas and 55 gastritis samples. DHPLC data were statistically interpreted using SPSS version 16.0. RESULTS: From the results of 427 Alu bisulfite clone sequences, we found that only 27.2% of CpG sites within Alu elements were preserved (4.6 of 17 analyzed CpGs, A approximately Q) and that 86.6% of remaining-CpGs were methylated. Deamination was the main reason for low preservation of methylation targets. A high correlation coefficient of methylation was observed between Alu clones and CpG site J (0.963), A (0.950), H (0.946), D (0.945). Comethylation of the sites H and J were used as an indicator of the proportion of methylated-Alu in a Cac8I COBRA-DHPLC assay. Validation studies showed that hypermethylation or hypomethylation of Alu elements in human cell lines could be detected sensitively by the assay after treatment with 5-aza-dC and M.SssI, respectively. The proportion of methylated-Alu copies in gastric carcinomas (3.01%) was significantly lower than that in the corresponding normal samples (3.19%) and gastritis biopsies (3.23%). CONCLUSIONS: Most Alu CpG sites are deaminated in the genome. 27% of Alu CpG sites represented in our amplification products. 87% of the remaining CpG sites are methylated. Alu hypomethylation in primary gastric carcinomas could be detected with the Cac8I COBRA-DHPLC assay quantitatively.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Colorectal cancers (CRCs) undergo distinct genetic and epigenetic alterations. Expression of mutL homolog 1 (MLH1), a mismatch repair gene that corrects DNA replication errors, is lost in up to 15% of sporadic tumours due to mutation or, more commonly, due to DNA methylation of its promoter CpG island. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the CpG island of MLH1 (MLH1-93G>A or rs1800734) is associated with CpG island hypermethylation and decreased MLH1 expression in CRC tumours. Further, in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) DNA of both CRC cases and non-cancer controls, the variant allele of rs1800734 is associated with hypomethylation at the MLH1 shore, a region upstream of its CpG island that is less dense in CpG sites. RESULTS:To determine whether this genotype-epigenotype association is present in other tissue types, including colorectal tumours, we assessed DNA methylation in matched normal colorectal tissue, tumour, and PBMC DNA from 349 population-based CRC cases recruited from the Ontario Familial Colorectal Cancer Registry. Using the semi-quantitative real-time PCR-based MethyLight assay, MLH1 shore methylation was significantly higher in tumour tissue than normal colon or PBMCs (P < 0.01). When shore methylation levels were stratified by SNP genotype, normal colorectal DNA and PBMC DNA were significantly hypomethylated in association with variant SNP genotype (P < 0.05). However, this association was lost in tumour DNA. Among distinct stages of CRC, metastatic stage IV CRC tumours incurred significant hypomethylation compared to stage I-III cases, irrespective of genotype status. Shore methylation of MLH1 was not associated with MSI status or promoter CpG island hypermethylation, regardless of genotype. To confirm these results, bisulfite sequencing was performed in matched tumour and normal colorectal specimens from six CRC cases, including two cases per genotype (wildtype, heterozygous, and homozygous variant). Bisulfite sequencing results corroborated the methylation patterns found by MethyLight, with significant hypomethylation in normal colorectal tissue of variant SNP allele carriers. CONCLUSIONS:These results indicate that the normal tissue types tested (colorectum and PBMC) experience dynamic genotype-associated epigenetic alterations at the MLH1 shore, whereas tumour DNA incurs aberrant hypermethylation compared to normal DNA.
Project description:Repression of many tumor suppressor genes in cancer is concurrent with aberrantly increased DNA methylation levels at promoter CpG islands (CGIs). About one-fourth of empirically defined human promoters are surrounded by or contain clustered repetitive elements. It was previously observed that a sharp transition of methylation exists between highly methylated repetitive elements and unmethylated promoter-CGIs in normal tissues. The factors that lead to aberrant CGI hypermethylation in cancer remain poorly understood. Here, we established a site-specific integration system with enforced local transcriptional repression in colorectal cancer cells and monitored the occurrence of initial de novo methylation at specific CG sites adjacent to the CGI of the INSL6 promoter, which could be accelerated by binding a KRAB-containing transcriptional factor. Additional repetitive elements from P16 and RIL (PDLIM4), if situated adjacent to the promoter of INSL6, could confer DNA methylation spreading into the CGI particularly in the setting of KRAB-factor binding. However, a repressive chromatin alone was not sufficient to initiate DNA methylation, which required specific DNA sequences and was integration-site (and/or cell-line) specific. Overall, these results demonstrate a requirement for specific DNA sequences to trigger de novo DNA methylation, and repetitive elements as cis-regulatory factors to cooperate with advanced transcriptional repression in promoting methylation spreading.
Project description:Alterations in DNA methylation in cancer include global hypomethylation and gene-specific hypermethylation. It is not clear whether these two epigenetic errors are mechanistically linked or occur independently. This study was performed to determine the relationship between DNA hypomethylation, hypermethylation and microsatellite instability in cancer.We examined 61 cancer cell lines and 60 colorectal carcinomas and their adjacent tissues using LINE-1 bisulfite-PCR as a surrogate for global demethylation. Colorectal carcinomas with sporadic microsatellite instability (MSI), most of which are due to a CpG island methylation phenotype (CIMP) and associated MLH1 promoter methylation, showed in average no difference in LINE-1 methylation between normal adjacent and cancer tissues. Interestingly, some tumor samples in this group showed increase in LINE-1 methylation. In contrast, MSI-showed a significant decrease in LINE-1 methylation between normal adjacent and cancer tissues (P<0.001). Microarray analysis of repetitive element methylation confirmed this observation and showed a high degree of variability in hypomethylation between samples. Additionally, unsupervised hierarchical clustering identified a group of highly hypomethylated tumors, composed mostly of tumors without microsatellite instability. We extended LINE-1 analysis to cancer cell lines from different tissues and found that 50/61 were hypomethylated compared to peripheral blood lymphocytes and normal colon mucosa. Interestingly, these cancer cell lines also exhibited a large variation in demethylation, which was tissue-specific and thus unlikely to be resultant from a stochastic process.Global hypomethylation is partially reversed in cancers with microsatellite instability and also shows high variability in cancer, which may reflect alternative progression pathways in cancer.
Project description:Clinical testing for MLH1 promoter hypermethylation status is important in the workup of patients with MLH1-deficient colorectal and uterine carcinomas when evaluating patients for Lynch syndrome. Current assays use single gene-based methods to assess promoter hypermethylation. Herein, we describe the development and report the performance of a clinical assay for MLH1 promoter hypermethylation using the Infinium methylationEPIC (850k) bead-array platform. Using four cytosine-guanine dinucleotide (CpG) sites within the MLH1 gene promoter, a qualitative MLH1 promoter hypermethylation assay was developed and validated using 63 gastrointestinal and uterine carcinoma samples of known hypermethylation status based on a pyrosequencing reference test. The array-based method achieves clinically robust and reproducible results at an analytical sensitivity level of 8%. Of importance, the 850k array contains probes targeting >850,000 additional CpG sites across the genome, covering sites in most known genes as well as important enhancer regions provided by the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements and Functional Annotation of The Mammalian Genome projects. Thus, the testing modality presented may also be applied to determine the methylation status of other clinically relevant genes or regulatory regions, potentially providing a single laboratory testing workflow for all clinical methylation assays. Furthermore, the concomitant acquisition of genome-wide methylation information provides a workflow that seamlessly enables wider translational epigenetic research.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Aberrant DNA methylation plays important roles in carcinogenesis. However, the functional significance of genome-wide hypermethylation and hypomethylation of gene promoters in carcinogenesis currently remain unclear. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Based on genome-wide methylation data for five cancer types, we showed that genes with promoter hypermethylation were highly consistent in function across different cancer types, and so were genes with promoter hypomethylation. Functions related to "developmental processes" and "regulation of biology processes" were significantly enriched with hypermethylated genes but were depleted of hypomethylated genes. In contrast, functions related to "cell killing" and "response to stimulus", including immune and inflammatory response, were associated with an enrichment of hypomethylated genes and depletion of hypermethylated genes. We also observed that some families of cytokines secreted by immune cells, such as IL10 family cytokines and chemokines, tended to be hypomethylated in various cancer types. These results provide new hints for understanding the distinct functional roles of genome-wide hypermethylation and hypomethylation of gene promoters in carcinogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: Genes with promoter hypermethylation and hypomethylation are highly consistent in function across different cancer types, respectively, but these two groups of genes tend to be enriched in different functions associated with cancer. Especially, we speculate that hypomethylation of gene promoters may play roles in inducing immunity and inflammation disorders in precancerous conditions, which may provide hints for improving epigenetic therapy and immunotherapy of cancer.