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Cancer Res. 2000 Nov 15;60(22):6236-42.

TMS1, a novel proapoptotic caspase recruitment domain protein, is a target of methylation-induced gene silencing in human breast cancers.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology and the Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Gene silencing associated with aberrant methylation of promoter region CpG islands is an acquired epigenetic alteration that serves as an alternative to genetic defects in the inactivation of tumor suppressor and other genes in human cancers. The hypothesis that aberrant methylation plays a direct causal role in carcinogenesis hinges on the question of whether aberrant methylation is sufficient to drive gene silencing. To identify downstream targets of methylation-induced gene silencing, we used a human cell model in which aberrant CpG island methylation is induced by ectopic expression of DNA methyltransferase. Here we report the isolation and characterization of TMS1 (target of methylation-induced silencing), a novel CpG island-associated gene that becomes hypermethylated and silenced in cells overexpressing DNA cytosine-5-methyltransferase-1. We also show that TMS1 is aberrantly methylated and silenced in human breast cancer cells. Forty percent (11 of 27) of primary breast tumors exhibited aberrant methylation of TMS1. TMS1 is localized to chromosome 16p11.2-12.1 and encodes a 22-kDa predicted protein containing a COOH-terminal caspase recruitment domain, a recently described protein interaction motif found in apoptotic signaling molecules. Ectopic expression of TMS1 induced apoptosis in 293 cells and inhibited the survival of human breast cancer cells. The data suggest that methylation-mediated silencing of TMS1 confers a survival advantage by allowing cells to escape from apoptosis, supporting a new role for aberrant methylation in breast tumorigenesis.

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