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Blood. 2004 Jun 15;103(12):4630-5. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

SOCS1 and SHP1 hypermethylation in multiple myeloma: implications for epigenetic activation of the Jak/STAT pathway.

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University Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong.


SOCS1 and SHP1 negatively regulate the Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (Jak/STAT) signaling pathway. The role of promoter hypermethylation leading to epigenetic inactivation of SOCS1 and SHP1 in myeloma was investigated. The methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) was used to define SOCS1 and SHP1 methylation in 34 diagnostic myeloma samples. For SOCS1, MSP primers 3' to the translation start site were unreliable and gave positive results in normal controls. However, primers in the 5' promoter region were specific, although no myeloma samples showed methylation. For SHP1, 27 of 34 (79.4%) myeloma samples showed SHP1 hypermethylation. The biologic significance of SHP1 methylation was investigated in the U266 human myeloma line. U266 contained completely methylated SHP1. Furthermore, there was constitutive STAT3 phosphorylation. Treatment with 5-azacytidine led to progressive demethylation of SHP1 on days 2 to 5, with consequent increasing reexpression of SHP1 as shown by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Concomitant with increasing SHP1, a parallel down-regulation of phosphorylated STAT3 occurred, so that by day 5 phosphorylated STAT3 was barely detectable. The overall survivals of patients with and without SHP1 methylation were similar. SHP1 methylation leading to epigenetic activation of the Jak/STAT pathway might have a tentative role in the pathogenesis of myeloma, which should be further confirmed by functional studies in primary myeloma samples.

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