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Eur J Cancer. 2003 Jul;39(10):1478-85.

Aberrant methylation of multiple genes in neuroblastic tumours. relationship with MYCN amplification and allelic status at 1p.

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Laboratorio de Oncogenética Molecular, Dept. C. Experimental, Hospital Universitario La Paz, Paseo de la Castellana 261, 28046, Madrid Spain.


Aberrant hypermethylation occurs in tumour cell CpG islands and is an important pathway for the repression of gene transcription in cancers. We investigated aberrant hypermethylation of 11 genes by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR), after treatment of the DNA with bisulphite, and correlated the findings with MYCN amplification and allelic status at 1p in a series of 44 neuroblastic tumours. This tumour series includes five ganglioneuromas (G), one ganglioneuroblastoma (GN) and 38 neuroblastomas (six stage 1 tumours; five stage 2 tumours; six stage 3 cases; 19 stage 4 tumours, and two stage 4S cases). Aberrant methylation of at least one of the 11 genes studied was detected in 95% (42 of 44) of the cases. The frequencies of aberrant methylation were: 64% for thrombospondin-1 (THBS1); 30% for tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP-3); 27% for O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT); 25% for p73; 18% for RB1; 14% for death-associated protein kinase (DAPK), p14ARF, p16INK4a and caspase 8, and 0% for TP53 and glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1). No aberrant methylation was observed in four control normal tissue samples (brain and adrenal medulla). MYCN amplification was found in 11 cases (all stage 4 neuroblastomas), whereas allelic loss at 1p was identified in 16 samples (13 stage 4 and two stage 3 neuroblastomas, and one ganglioneuroma). All but one case with caspase 8 methylation also displayed MYCN amplification. Our results suggest that promoter hypermethylation is a frequent epigenetic event in the tumorigenesis of neuroblastic tumours, but no specific pattern of hypermethylated genes could be demonstrated.

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