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Cancer Res. 2001 Jan 1;61(1):249-55.

Aberrant promoter methylation of multiple genes in non-small cell lung cancers.

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  • 1Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research, The University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 75390-8593, USA.


Aberrant methylation of CpG islands acquired in tumor cells in promoter regions is one method for loss of gene function. We determined the frequency of aberrant promoter methylation (referred to as methylation) of the genes retinoic acid receptor beta-2 (RARbeta), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP-3), p16INK4a, O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT), death-associated protein kinase (DAPK), E-cadherin (ECAD), p14ARF, and glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) in 107 resected primary non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and in 104 corresponding nonmalignant lung tissues by methylation-specific PCR. Methylation in the tumor samples was detected in 40% for RARbeta, 26% for TIMP-3, 25% for p16INK4a, 21% for MGMT, 19% for DAPK, 18% for ECAD, 8% for p14ARF, and 7% for GSTP1, whereas it was not seen in the vast majority of the corresponding nonmalignant tissues. Moreover, p16INK4a methylation was correlated with loss of p16INK4a expression by immunohistochemistry. A total of 82% of the NSCLCs had methylation of at least one of these genes; 37% of the NSCLCs had one gene methylated, 22% of the NSCLCs had two genes methylated, 13% of the NSCLCs had three genes methylated, 8% of the NSCLCs had four genes methylated, and 2% of the NSCLCs had five genes methylated. Methylation of these genes was correlated with some clinicopathological characteristics of the patients. In comparing the methylation patterns of tumors and nonmalignant lung tissues from the same patients, there were many discordancies where the genes methylated in nonmalignant tissues were not methylated in the corresponding tumors. This suggests that the methylation was occurring as a preneoplastic change. We conclude that these findings confirm in a large sample that methylation is a frequent event in NSCLC, can also occur in smoking-damaged nonmalignant lung tissues, and may be the most common mechanism to inactivate cancer-related genes in NSCLC.

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