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Cancer Sci. 2003 Apr;94(4):360-4.

Promoter methylation status of DAP-kinase and RUNX3 genes in neoplastic and non-neoplastic gastric epithelia.

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Department of Pathology, Yamagata University School of Medicine, Yamagata 990-9585, Japan.


Silencing of tumor suppressor and tumor-related genes by hypermethylation at promoter CpG islands is frequently found in human tumors, including gastric cancer. Promoter methylation is not restricted to cancer cells, and is also present in non-neoplastic cells as an age-related tissue-specific phenomenon. To clarify the physiological consequence of DAP-kinase and RUNX3 age-related methylation in gastric epithelia, we investigated the promoter methylation status of these genes in both neoplastic and non-neoplastic gastric epithelia obtained at autopsy and surgery, as well as in 10 gastric cancer cell lines. Methylation of DAP-kinase and RUNX3 was detected in 10% (1/10) and 70% (7/10) of the cell lines, respectively, and was almost concordant with their expression status. Among autopsy samples, methylation of these genes was not seen in non-neoplastic gastric epithelia from persons who were aged 22 years and below (0%; 0/4). DAP-kinase was methylated in 87% (13/15) of non-neoplastic gastric epithelia of persons who were aged 45 years or older, while RUNX3 methylation in non-neoplastic gastric epithelia was restricted to individuals who were aged 77 years or older. Among samples obtained from patients with stomach cancer, methylation was observed in both the neoplastic and the corresponding non-neoplastic gastric epithelia; 43% (40/93) and 73% (68/93) for DAP-kinase, and 45% (42/93) and 8% (7/93) for RUNX3, respectively. Frequencies of DAP-kinase and RUNX3 methylation differed significantly in non-neoplastic gastric epithelia (P < 0.01), although those in gastric cancers were almost the same. RUNX3 methylation is mostly cancer-specific, except for very old individuals, and therefore may be a possible molecular diagnostic marker and malignancy predictor.

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