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Mod Pathol. 2008 Feb;21(2):150-8. Epub 2007 Dec 14.

WRN promoter methylation possibly connects mucinous differentiation, microsatellite instability and CpG island methylator phenotype in colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

Werner syndrome is a premature aging syndrome characterized by early onset of cancer and abnormal cellular metabolism of glycosaminoglycan. The WRN helicase plays an important role in the maintenance of telomere function. WRN promoter methylation and gene silencing are common in colorectal cancer with the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), which is associated with microsatellite instability (MSI) and mucinous tumors. However, no study has examined the relationship between mucinous differentiation, WRN methylation, CIMP and MSI in colorectal cancer. Utilizing 903 population-based colorectal cancers and real-time PCR (MethyLight), we quantified DNA methylation in WRN and eight other promoters (CACNA1G, CDKN2A, CRABP1, IGF2, MLH1, NEUROG1, RUNX3 and SOCS1) known to be specific for CIMP. Supporting WRN as a good CIMP marker, WRN methylation was correlated well with CIMP-high diagnosis (> or =6/8 methylated promoters), demonstrating 89% sensitivity and 81% specificity. WRN methylation was associated with the presence of any mucinous component and > or =50% mucinous component (P<0.0001). Because both MSI and CIMP were associated with mucinous tumors and WRN methylation, we stratified tumors into 9 MSI/CIMP subtypes, to examine whether the relationship between WRN methylation and mucin still persisted. In each MSI/CIMP subtype, tumors with mucinous component were persistently more common in WRN-methylated tumors than WRN-unmethylated tumors (P=0.004). No relations of WRN methylation with other variables (age, sex, tumor location, poor differentiation, signet ring cells, lymphocytic reactions, KRAS, BRAF, p53, p21 or 18q loss of heterozygosity) persisted after tumors were stratified by CIMP status. In conclusion, WRN methylation is associated with mucinous differentiation independent of CIMP and MSI status. Our data suggest a possible role of WRN methylation in mucinous differentiation, and may provide explanation to the enigmatic association between mucin and MSI/CIMP.

PMID:
18084250
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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