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Mol Hum Reprod. 2008 Sep;14(9):539-45. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gan045. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

Potential link between estrogen receptor-alpha gene hypomethylation and uterine fibroid formation.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine, Minamikogushi 1-1-1, Ube 755-8505, Japan.


Uterine leiomyomas are the most common uterine tumors in women. Estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-alpha) is more highly expressed in uterine leiomyomas than in normal myometrium, suggesting a link between uterine leiomyomas and ER-alpha expression. DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism of gene regulation and plays important roles in normal embryonic development and in disease progression including cancers. Here, we investigated the DNA methylation status of the ER-alpha promoter region (-1188 to +229 bp) in myometrium and leiomyoma. By sodium bisulfite sequencing, 49 CpG sites in the proximal promoter region of ER-alpha gene were shown to be unmethylated in both leiomyoma and normal myometrium. At seven CpG sites in the distal promoter region of the ER-alpha gene, there was a variation in DNA methylation status in myometrium and leiomyoma. Further analysis of the DNA methylation status by bisulfite restriction mapping among 11 paired samples of myometrium and leiomyoma indicated that CpG sites in the distal region of ER-alpha promoter are hypomethylated in leiomyomas of nine patients. In those patients, ER-alpha mRNA levels tended to be higher in the leiomyoma than in the myometrium. In conclusion, there was an aberrant DNA methylation status in the promoter region of ER-alpha gene in uterine leiomyoma, which may be associated with high ER-alpha mRNA expression.

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