Alterations in the DNA methylome are characteristic for numerous diseases and a typical hallmark of cancer. Therefore, DNA methylation is currently under investigation in research labs and has also entered diagnostics. Recently, protocols like the BeadChip technology have become commercially available to study DNA methylation in an array format and semiquantitative fashion. However, it is known that fixation of the sample material with formalin prior to BeadChip analysis can affect the results. In this study we compared the influence of fixation on the outcome of BeadChip analysis. From six patients each a lung cancer tissue sample and a corresponding tumor-free lung tissue sample were collected. The samples were separated into three pieces. One piece of each sample was fixed with formalin, another one by the non-cross-linking HOPE technique (Hepes-glutamic acid buffer mediated Organic solvent Protection Effect). Subsequently, both became paraffin embedded. As a reference, the remaining third piece was cryopreserved. In addition we used three adenocarcinoma cell lines (H838, A549, and H1650) to validate the results from patient tissues. We show that using the HOPE technique instead of formalin largely prevents the introduction of formalin-fixation related artifacts. An ANOVA analysis significantly separated HOPE- and cryopreserved from formalin-fixed samples (FDR<0.05), while differences in the methylation data obtained from HOPE-fixed and cryopreserved material were minor. Consequently, HOPE fixation is superior to formalin fixation if a subsequent BeadChip analysis of paraffin-embedded sample material is intended.
Background: Aberrations in DNA methylation patterns are well-described in human malignancies. However, the existence of the 'CpG island methylator phenotype' (CIMP) in human breast cancer is still controversial. Materials & methods: Illumina's HumanMethylation 450K BeadChip was used to analyze genome-wide DNA methylation patterns. Chromosomal abnormalities were determined by array-based CGH. Results: Invasive lobular breast carcinomas exhibit the highest number of differentially methylated CpG sites and a strong inverse correlation of aberrant DNA hypermethylation and copy number alterations. Nine differentially methylated regions within seven genes discriminating the investigated subgroups were identified and validated in an independent validation cohort and correlated to a better relapse-free survival. Conclusion: These results depict a clear difference between genetically and epigenetically unstable breast carcinomas indicating different ways of tumor progression and/or initiation, which strongly supports the association of CIMP with the lobular subtype and provide new options for detection and therapy.
Because of the dearth of biomarkers of aging, it has been difficult to test the hypothesis that obesity increases tissue age. Here we use a novel epigenetic biomarker of aging (referred to as an "epigenetic clock") to study the relationship between high body mass index (BMI) and the DNA methylation ages of human blood, liver, muscle, and adipose tissue. A significant correlation between BMI and epigenetic age acceleration could only be observed for liver (r = 0.42, P = 6.8 × 10(-4) in dataset 1 and r = 0.42, P = 1.2 × 10(-4) in dataset 2). On average, epigenetic age increased by 3.3 y for each 10 BMI units. The detected age acceleration in liver is not associated with the Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Activity Score or any of its component traits after adjustment for BMI. The 279 genes that are underexpressed in older liver samples are highly enriched (1.2 × 10(-9)) with nuclear mitochondrial genes that play a role in oxidative phosphorylation and electron transport. The epigenetic age acceleration, which is not reversible in the short term after rapid weight loss induced by bariatric surgery, may play a role in liver-related comorbidities of obesity, such as insulin resistance and liver cancer.
T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) is an aggressive post-thymic T-cell malignancy characterized by the recurrent inv(14)(q11q32)/t(14;14)(q11;q32) or t(X;14)(q28;q11) leading to activation of either the TCL1 or MTCP1 gene, respectively. However, these primary genetic events are insufficient to drive leukemogenesis. Recently, activating mutations in JAK3 have been identified in other T-cell malignancies. Since JAK3 is essential for T-cell maturation, we analyzed a cohort of 32 T-PLL patients for mutational hot spots in the JAK3 gene using a step-wise screening approach. We identified 14 mutations in 11 of 32 patients (34%). The most frequently detected mutation in our cohort was M511I (seen in 57% of cases) previously described as an activating change in other T-cell malignancies. Three patients carried two mutations in JAK3. In two patients M511I and R657Q were simultaneously detected and in another patient V674F and V678L. In the latter case we could demonstrate that the mutations were on the same allele in cis. Protein modeling and homology analyses of mutations present in other members of the JAK family suggested that these mutations likely activate JAK3, possibly by disrupting the activation loop and the interface between N and C lobes, increasing the accessibility of the catalytic loop. In addition, four of the 21 patients lacking a JAK3 point mutation presented an aberrant karyotype involving the chromosomal band 19p13 harboring the JAK3 locus. The finding of recurrent activating JAK3 mutations in patients with T-PLL could enable the use of JAK3 inhibitors to treat patients with this unfavorable malignancy who otherwise have a very poor prognosis.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disorder in industrialized countries. Liver samples from morbidly obese patients (n = 45) with all stages of NAFLD and controls (n = 18) were analyzed by array-based DNA methylation and mRNA expression profiling. NAFLD-specific expression and methylation differences were seen for nine genes coding for key enzymes in intermediate metabolism (including PC, ACLY, and PLCG1) and insulin/insulin-like signaling (including IGF1, IGFBP2, and PRKCE) and replicated by bisulfite pyrosequening (independent n = 39). Transcription factor binding sites at NAFLD-specific CpG sites were >1,000-fold enriched for ZNF274, PGC1A, and SREBP2. Intraindividual comparison of liver biopsies before and after bariatric surgery showed NAFLD-associated methylation changes to be partially reversible. Postbariatric and NAFLD-specific methylation signatures were clearly distinct both in gene ontology and transcription factor binding site analyses, with >400-fold enrichment of NRF1, HSF1, and ESRRA sites. Our findings provide an example of treatment-induced epigenetic organ remodeling in humans.
Protocols to generate strand-specific transcriptomes with next-generation sequencing platforms have been used by the scientific community roughly since 2008. Strand-specific reads allow for detection of antisense events and a higher resolution of expression profiles enabling extension of current transcript annotations. However, applications making use of this strandedness information are still scarce.
NLRP7 is a maternal effect gene as maternal mutations in this gene cause recurrent hydatidiform moles, spontaneous abortions and stillbirths, whereas live births are very rare. We have studied a patient with multiple anomalies born to a mother with a heterozygous NLRP7 mutation. By array-based CpG methylation analysis of blood DNA from the patient, his parents and 18 normal controls on Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChips we found that the patient had methylation changes (delta ß ? 0.3) at many imprinted loci as well as at 87 CpGs associated with 85 genes of unknown imprinting status. Using a pseudoproband (permutation) approach, we found methylation changes at only 7-24 CpGs (mean 15; standard deviation 4.84) in the controls. Thus, the number of abberantly methylated CpGs in the patient is more than 14 standard deviations higher. In order to identify novel imprinted genes among the 85 conspicuous genes in the patient, we selected 19 (mainly hypomethylated) genes for deep bisulfite amplicon sequencing on the ROCHE/454 Genome Sequencer in the patient and at least two additional controls. These controls had not been included in the array analysis and were heterozygous for a single nucleotide polymorphism at the test locus, so that allele-specific DNA methylation patterns could be determined. Apart from FAM50B, which we proved to be imprinted in blood, we did not observe allele-specific DNA methylation at the other 18 loci. We conclude that the patient does not only have methylation defects at imprinted loci but (at least in blood) also an excess of methylation changes at apparently non-imprinted loci.
Sex differences are well known to be determinants of development, health and disease. Epigenetic mechanisms are also known to differ between men and women through X-inactivation in females. We hypothesized that epigenetic sex differences may also result from sex hormone functions, in particular from long-lasting androgen programming. We aimed at investigating whether inactivation of the androgen receptor, the key regulator of normal male sex development, is associated with differences of the patterns of DNA methylation marks in genital tissues. To this end, we performed large scale array-based analysis of gene methylation profiles on genomic DNA from labioscrotal skin fibroblasts of 8 males and 26 individuals with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) due to inactivating androgen receptor gene mutations. By this approach we identified differential methylation of 167 CpG loci representing 162 unique human genes. These were significantly enriched for androgen target genes and low CpG content promoter genes. Additional 75 genes showed a significant increase of heterogeneity of methylation in AIS compared to a high homogeneity in normal male controls. Our data show that normal and aberrant androgen receptor function is associated with distinct patterns of DNA-methylation marks in genital tissues. These findings support the concept that transcription factor binding to the DNA has an impact on the shape of the DNA methylome. These data which derived from a rare human model suggest that androgen programming of methylation marks contributes to sexual dimorphism in the human which might have considerable impact on the manifestation of sex-associated phenotypes and diseases.
Abberrant DNA methylation is one of the hallmarks of cancerogenesis. Our study aims to delineate differential DNA methylation in cirrhosis and hepatic cancerogenesis. Patterns of methylation of 27,578 individual CpG loci in 12 hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), 15 cirrhotic controls and 12 normal liver samples were investigated using an array-based technology. A supervised principal component analysis (PCA) revealed 167 hypomethylated loci and 100 hypermethylated loci in cirrhosis and HCC as compared to normal controls. Thus, these loci show a "cirrhotic" methylation pattern that is maintained in HCC. In pairwise supervised PCAs between normal liver, cirrhosis and HCC, eight loci were significantly changed in all analyses differentiating the three groups (p < 0.0001). Of these, five loci showed highest methylation levels in HCC and lowest in control tissue (LOC55908, CELSR1, CRMP1, GNRH2, ALOX12 and ANGPTL7), whereas two loci showed the opposite direction of change (SPRR3 and TNFSF15). Genes hypermethylated between normal liver to cirrhosis, which maintain this methylation pattern during the development of HCC, are depleted for CpG islands, high CpG content promoters and polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) targets in embryonic stem cells. In contrast, genes selectively hypermethylated in HCC as compared to nonmalignant samples showed an enrichment of CpG islands, high CpG content promoters and PRC2 target genes (p < 0.0001). Cirrhosis and HCC show distinct patterns of differential methylation with regards to promoter structure, PRC2 targets and CpG islands.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells are characterized by several chromosomal lesions. Some of these aberrations imply chromosome breaks as a result of unrepaired double strand breaks (DSBs) in the DNA. The ATM (ataxia telangiectasia-mutated) protein is the principal integrator of cellular responses to DSBs. ATM deletion is also an adverse prognostic factor in CLL. Taking this into account, we evaluated if genetic and/or epigenetic variation in the ATM gene may modulate the individual susceptibility to develop CLL. Our case-control association study was performed in a large Spanish population of 1,503 individuals, including 742 patients with CLL and 761 controls. We identified one haplotype within the ATM gene that confers an increased risk of CLL development (OR = 1.33; 95% CI: 1.10-1.60). Two polymorphisms of this ATM haplotype eliminated one CpG site each in Introns 15 and 61, causing changes in DNA methylation pattern. These data provide the first evidence for the existence of a putative "hepitype" in the ATM gene associated with CLL risk.
Many patients with ovarian cancer disease relapse within 6 months after adjuvant chemotherapy, with a limited prognosis. Epigenetic modifications have been shown to play an important role in tumor development and formation. Therefore, global analysis of DNA methylation patterns might reveal specific CpG sites that correlate with progression-free interval (PFI) after therapy.
The specificity in discriminating pancreatitis is limited in the positron emission tomography (PET) using Fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose. Furthermore, PET is not widely available compared to the single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Since amino acids play a minor role in metabolism of inflammatory cells, the potential of the SPECT tracer, 3-[123I]iodo-L-alpha-methyltyrosine (123I-IMT), for detecting pancreatic cancer was examined in xenotransplantation models of human pancreatic carcinoma in mice.
Cytosine methylation provides an epigenetic level of cellular plasticity that is important for development, differentiation and cancerogenesis. We adopted microdroplet PCR to bisulfite treated target DNA in combination with second generation sequencing to simultaneously assess DNA sequence and methylation. We show measurement of methylation status in a wide range of target sequences (total 34 kb) with an average coverage of 95% (median 100%) and good correlation to the opposite strand (rho?=?0.96) and to pyrosequencing (rho?=?0.87). Data from lymphoma and colorectal cancer samples for SNRPN (imprinted gene), FGF6 (demethylated in the cancer samples) and HS3ST2 (methylated in the cancer samples) serve as a proof of principle showing the integration of SNP data and phased DNA-methylation information into "hepitypes" and thus the analysis of DNA methylation phylogeny in the somatic evolution of cancer.
Differences in the global methylation pattern, ie hyper- as well as hypo-methylation, are observed in cancers including germ cell tumours (GCTs). Related to their precursor cells, GCT methylation status differs according to histology. We investigated the methylation pattern of normal fetal, infantile, and adult germ cells (n = 103) and GCTs (n = 251) by immunohistochemical staining for 5-(m)cytidine. The global methylation pattern of male germ cells changes from hypomethylation to hypermethylation, whereas female germ cells remain unmethylated at all stages. Undifferentiated GCTs (seminomas, intratubular germ cell neoplasia unclassified, and gonadoblastomas) are hypomethylated, whereas more differentiated GCTs (teratomas, yolk sac tumours, and choriocarcinomas) show a higher degree of methylation. Embryonal carcinomas show an intermediate pattern. Resistance to cisplatin was assessed in the seminomatous cell line TCam-2 before and after demethylation using 5-azacytidine. Exposure to 5-azacytidine resulted in decreased resistance to cisplatin. Furthermore, after demethylation, the stem cell markers NANOG and POU5F1 (OCT3/4), as well as the germ cell-specific marker VASA, showed increased expression. Following treatment with 5-azacytidine, TCam-2 cells were analysed using a high-throughput methylation screen for changes in the methylation sites of 14,000 genes. Among the genes revealing changes, interesting targets were identified: ie demethylation of KLF11, a putative tumour suppressor gene, and hypermethylation of CFLAR, a gene previously described in treatment resistance in GCTs.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains an important cause of cancer death. Changes in apoptosis signaling in pancreatic cancer result in chemotherapy resistance and aggressive growth and metastasizing. The aim of this study was to characterize the apoptosis pathway in pancreatic cancer computationally by evaluation of experimental data from high-throughput technologies and public data bases. Therefore, gene expression analysis of microdissected pancreatic tumor tissue was implemented in a model of the apoptosis pathway obtained by computational protein interaction prediction.
Sequence variants at the TERT-CLPTM1L locus in chromosome 5p have been recently associated with disposition for various cancers. Here we show that this locus including the gene encoding the telomerase reverse-transcriptase TERT at 5p13.33 is rarely but recurrently targeted by somatic chromosomal translocations to IGH and non-IG loci in B-cell neoplasms, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma and splenic marginal zone lymphoma. In addition, cases with genomic amplification of TERT locus were identified. Tumors bearing chromosomal aberrations involving TERT showed higher TERT transcriptional expression and increased telomerase activity. These data suggest that deregulation of TERT gene by chromosomal abnormalities leading to increased telomerase activity might contribute to B-cell lymphomagenesis.
Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic process leading to parent-of-origin-specific DNA methylation and gene expression. To date, approximately 60 imprinted human genes are known. Based on genome-wide methylation analysis of a patient with multiple imprinting defects, we have identified a differentially methylated CpG island in intron 2 of the retinoblastoma (RB1) gene on chromosome 13. The CpG island is part of a 5-truncated, processed pseudogene derived from the KIAA0649 gene on chromosome 9 and corresponds to two small CpG islands in the open reading frame of the ancestral gene. It is methylated on the maternal chromosome 13 and acts as a weak promoter for an alternative RB1 transcript on the paternal chromosome 13. In four other KIAA0649 pseudogene copies, which are located on chromosome 22, the two CpG islands have deteriorated and the CpG dinucleotides are fully methylated. By analysing allelic RB1 transcript levels in blood cells, as well as in hypermethylated and 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine-treated lymphoblastoid cells, we have found that differential methylation of the CpG island skews RB1 gene expression in favor of the maternal allele. Thus, RB1 is imprinted in the same direction as CDKN1C, which operates upstream of RB1. The imprinting of two components of the same pathway indicates that there has been strong evolutionary selection for maternal inhibition of cell proliferation.
Alterations in the DNA methylation pattern are a hallmark of leukemias and lymphomas. However, most epigenetic studies in hematologic neoplasms (HNs) have focused either on the analysis of few candidate genes or many genes and few HN entities, and comprehensive studies are required.
Although primary lymphomas of the central nervous system (PCNSL) and extracerebral diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cannot be distinguished histologically, it is still a matter of debate whether PCNSL differ from systemic DLBCL with respect to their molecular features and pathogenesis. Analysis of the DNA methylation pattern might provide further data distinguishing these entities at a molecular level.
Lymphomas are assumed to originate at different stages of lymphocyte development through chromosomal aberrations. Thus, different lymphomas resemble lymphocytes at distinct differentiation stages and show characteristic morphologic, genetic, and transcriptional features. Here, we have performed a microarray-based DNA methylation profiling of 83 mature aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (maB-NHLs) characterized for their morphologic, genetic, and transcriptional features, including molecular Burkitt lymphomas and diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. Hierarchic clustering indicated that methylation patterns in maB-NHLs were not strictly associated with morphologic, genetic, or transcriptional features. By supervised analyses, we identified 56 genes de novo methylated in all lymphoma subtypes studied and 22 methylated in a lymphoma subtype-specific manner. Remarkably, the group of genes de novo methylated in all lymphoma subtypes was significantly enriched for polycomb targets in embryonic stem cells. De novo methylated genes in all maB-NHLs studied were expressed at low levels in lymphomas and normal hematopoietic tissues but not in nonhematopoietic tissues. These findings, especially the enrichment for polycomb targets in stem cells, indicate that maB-NHLs with different morphologic, genetic, and transcriptional background share a similar stem cell-like epigenetic pattern. This suggests that maB-NHLs originate from cells with stem cell features or that stemness was acquired during lymphomagenesis by epigenetic remodeling.
In the recent past large progress has been made in the analysis of the epigenome, the entirety of epigenetic modifications, and its meaning for the implementation of the genetic code. Besides histone modifications and miRNA expression, DNA methylation is one of the key players in the field of epigenetics, involved in numerous regulatory processes.
Burkitt lymphoma is a mature aggressive B-cell lymphoma derived from germinal center B cells. Its cytogenetic hallmark is the Burkitt translocation t(8;14)(q24;q32) and its variants, which juxtapose the MYC oncogene with one of the three immunoglobulin loci. Consequently, MYC is deregulated, resulting in massive perturbation of gene expression. Nevertheless, MYC deregulation alone seems not to be sufficient to drive Burkitt lymphomagenesis. By whole-genome, whole-exome and transcriptome sequencing of four prototypical Burkitt lymphomas with immunoglobulin gene (IG)-MYC translocation, we identified seven recurrently mutated genes. One of these genes, ID3, mapped to a region of focal homozygous loss in Burkitt lymphoma. In an extended cohort, 36 of 53 molecularly defined Burkitt lymphomas (68%) carried potentially damaging mutations of ID3. These were strongly enriched at somatic hypermutation motifs. Only 6 of 47 other B-cell lymphomas with the IG-MYC translocation (13%) carried ID3 mutations. These findings suggest that cooperation between ID3 inactivation and IG-MYC translocation is a hallmark of Burkitt lymphomagenesis.
Epigenetic mechanisms including DNA methylation are supposed to play a key role in fetal development. Here we have investigated fetal DNA-methylation levels of 27,578 CpG loci in 47 chorionic villi (CVS) and 16 amniotic cell (AC) samples. Methylation levels differed significantly between karyotypically normal AC and CVS for 2,014 genes. AC showed more extreme DNA-methylation levels of these genes than CVS and the differentially methylated genes are significantly enriched for processes characteristic for the different cell types sampled. Furthermore, we identified 404 genes differentially methylated in CVS with trisomy 21. These genes were significantly enriched for high CG dinucleotid (CpG) content and developmental processes associated with Down syndrome. Our study points to major tissue-specific differences of fetal DNA-methylation and gives rise to the hypothesis that part of the Down syndrome phenotype is epigenetically programmed in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that infects and establishes latency in the majority of the human population and may cause fatal infections in immunocompromised patients. Recent data implies a close interaction between HCMV encoded proteins and cellular epigenetic mechanisms such as histone acetylation and deacetylation. In this study, we investigated the interactions between HCMV infection and the DNA methylation machinery in different host cells using several approaches. We found that colon cancer cell line HCT-116 lacking the DNMT1 and DNMT3b methyltransferases was susceptible to HCMV-AD169 infection, while wild-type cells were non-susceptible. Treatment of wild-type HCT-116 cells with 5-azacytidine rendered them susceptible to infection. Further investigation of HCMV infected MRC-5 fibroblasts demonstrated significant global hypomethylation, a phenomenon that was virus strain-specific and associated with the re-localization of DNMT1 and DNMT3b from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. The cytoplasmic accumulation of DNMT1 was also evident in in vitro infected macrophages and in epithelial cells in tissue samples from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and concomitant HCMV infection. Foscavir treatment of virus infected fibroblasts did not affect the majority of the virus induced nuclear exclusion of DNMT1, which suggest that it is dependent on viral IE gene products. In conclusion, HCMV infection results in profound effects on the host cell DNA methylation machinery and is associated with inflammation in vivo. Our results improve the understanding of cytomegalovirus pathogenesis and open the search for new antiviral therapy targets. These findings may also contribute to the further understanding of mechanisms involved in DNA methylation abnormalities in physiological and pathological conditions.
The newly released 450k DNA methylation array from Illumina, Inc. offers the possibility to analyze more than 480,000 individual CpG sites in a user friendly standardized format. In this study the relationship between the ?-values provided by the Illumina, Inc. array for each individual CpG dinucleotide and the quantitative methylation levels obtained by pyrosequencing were analyzed. In addition, the representation of microRNA genes and imprinted loci on the Illumina, Inc. array was assessed in detail. Genomic DNA from 4 human breast cancer cell lines (IPH-926, HCC1937, MDA-MB-134, PMC42) and 18 human breast cancer specimens as well as 4 normal mammary epithelial fractions was analyzed on 450k DNA methylation arrays. The ?-values for 692 individual CpG sites from 62 different genes were cross-validated using conventional quantitative pyrosequencing.
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