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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):707-13.

Transcriptional silencing of the Dickkopfs-3 (Dkk-3) gene by CpG hypermethylation in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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  • 11Hematology Department, Molecular Biology Unit, Reina Sofia Hospital, 14004 Cordoba, Spain. peperosa@teleline.es

Abstract

DKK-3: is a newly characterised mortalisation-related gene and an antagonist of the Wnt oncogenic signalling pathway whose expression is decreased in a variety of cancer cell lines, suggesting that the Dkk-3 gene, located at chromosome 11p15.1, functions as a tumour suppressor gene. Although 11p15 is a 'hot spot' for methylation in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the role of Dkk-3 abnormalities has never been evaluated in this disease. We analysed CpG island methylation of the Dkk-3 promoter in six ALL cell lines and 183 ALL patients. We observed Dkk-3 hypermethylation in all cell lines and in cells from 33% (60/183) of ALL patients. Moreover, Dkk-3 methylation was associated with decreased Dkk-3 mRNA expression and this expression was restored after exposure to the demethylating agent 5-AzaC. Clinical features did not differ between hypermethylated and unmethylated patients. Estimated disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival at 10 and 11 years, respectively, were 49.8 and 45.6% for normal patients and 10.5 and 15.1% for hypermethylated patients (P=0.001 and 0.09). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that Dkk-3 methylation was an independent prognostic factor predicting DFS (P=0.0009). Our data suggest that Dkk-3 methylation occurs at an early stage in ALL pathogenesis and probably influences the clinical behaviour of the disease.

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