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Am J Pathol. 2002 Mar;160(3):787-94.

Epstein-barr virus-positive gastric carcinoma demonstrates frequent aberrant methylation of multiple genes and constitutes CpG island methylator phenotype-positive gastric carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, Seoul NationalUniversity College of Medicine and Cancer Research Institute, Seoul, Korea.


CpG island methylation is an important mechanism for inactivating the genes involved in tumorigenesis. Gastric carcinoma (GC) is one of the tumors that exhibits a high frequency of aberrant CpG island methylation. There have been many reports suggesting a close link between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and the development of GC. However, little is known about the oncogenic mechanism of EBV in gastric carcinogenesis. Twenty-one cases of EBV-positive GC and 56 cases of EBV-negative GC were examined for aberrant DNA methylation of the CpG islands of 19 genes or loci and the differences in the methylation frequency between EBV-positive and -negative GCs were investigated to determine a role of aberrant methylation in EBV-related gastric carcinogenesis. The average number of methylated genes or loci was higher in EBV-positive GCs than in EBV-negative GCs (13.4 versus 7.8, respectively, P < 0.001). EBV-positive GCs showed methylation in at least 10 CpG islands (52.6% of the tested genes), whereas 62.5% of EBV-negative GCs showed methylation in <10 CpG islands. THBS1, APC, p16, 14-3-3 sigma, MINT1, and MINT25 were methylated at a frequency >90% in EBV-positive GCs. The methylation frequency difference in the respective CpG islands between EBV-positive and -negative GCs was statistically significant (P < 0.05). Among these genes or loci, the methylation frequency of p16 in the EBV-positive GCs was more than three times higher than in the EBV-negative GCs. The PTEN, RASSF1A, GSTP1, MGMT, and MINT2 were methylated in EBV-positive GCs at a frequency of more than three times that of the EBV-negative GCs. These results demonstrate a relationship between EBV and aberrant methylation in GC and suggest that aberrant methylation may be an important mechanism of EBV-related gastric carcinogenesis.

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