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Epigenetics. 2007 Apr-Jun;2(2):80-5. Epub 2006 Dec 7.

DNA methylation profile at the DNMT3L promoter: a potential biomarker for cervical cancer.

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  • 1Laboratory of Mammalian Genetics, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Nacharam, Hyderabad, India.


Epigenetic events play a prominent role during cancer development. This is evident from the fact that almost all cancer types show aberrant DNA methylation. These abnormal DNA methylation levels are not restricted to just a few genes but affect the whole genome. Previous studies have shown genome-wide DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hypermethylation to be a hallmark of most cancers. Molecules like DNA methyltransferase act as effectors of epigenetic reprogramming. In the present study we have examined the possibility that the reprogramming genes themselves undergo epigenetic modifications reflecting their changed transcriptional status during cancer development. Comparison of DNA methylation status between the normal and cervical cancer samples was carried out at the promoters of a few reprogramming molecules. Our study revealed statistically significant DNA methylation differences within the promoter of DNMT3L. A regulator of de novo DNA methyltransferases DNMT3A and DNMT3B, DNMT3L promoter was found to have lost DNA methylation to varying levels in 14 out of 15 cancer cervix samples analysed. The present study highlights the importance of DNA methylation profile at DNMT3L promoter not only as a promising biomarker for cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer among women worldwide, but also provides insight into the possible role of DNMT3L in cancer development.

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