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Cancer Res. 2000 Aug 15;60(16):4366-71.

Analysis of adenomatous polyposis coli promoter hypermethylation in human cancer.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.


Germ-line mutations in the tumor suppressor gene APC are associated with hereditary familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and somatic mutations are common in sporadic colorectal tumors. We now report that methylation in the promoter region of this gene constitutes an alternative mechanism for gene inactivation in colon and other tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. The APC promoter is hypermethylated in 18% of primary sporadic colorectal carcinomas (n = 108) and adenoma (n = 48), and neoplasia with APC methylation fails to express the APC transcript. Methylation affects only wild-type APC in 95% of cases and is not observed in tumors from FAP patients who have germ-line APC mutations. As with APC mutation, aberrant APC methylation occurs early in colorectal carcinogenesis. When other tumor types are analyzed (n = 208), methylation of the APC promoter is not restricted to the colon but is present in tumors originating elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract but rarely in other tumors. Our data suggest that hypermethylation of APC provides an important mechanism for impairing APC function and further underscores the importance of the APC pathway in gastrointestinal tumorigenesis.

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