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Int J Cancer. 2004 Aug 20;111(2):224-8.

Hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes (p16INK4A, p14ARF and APC) in adenocarcinomas of the upper gastrointestinal tract.

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Institute of Pathology, Technical University, Munich, Germany.


Aberrant promoter methylation is an important mechanism for gene silencing. In the present study, 50 Barrett's esophagus-associated esophageal adenocarcinomas (ADC), 50 cardiac ADC and 50 gastric ADC were investigated by means of methylation-specific real-time PCR for hypermethylation in the tumor suppressor genes APC, p16(INk4A) and p14(ARF). Additionally, expression of p16(INK4A) protein in the carcinomas was assessed using immunohistochemistry. Marked differences in hypermethylation were found between esophageal, cardiac and gastric ADC in the APC gene (78% vs. 32% vs. 84%) and in the p16(INK4A) gene (54% vs. 36% vs. 10%). Hypermethylation of p14(ARF) was absent from esophageal ADC and present infrequently in cardiac (2%) and gastric ADC (10%). Complete loss of p16(INK4A) protein expression was detectable in 45% of all tumors and was significantly associated with hypermethylation of the p16(INK4A) gene (p<0.0001, chi(2)-test). Our results suggest that hypermethylation of p16(INK4A) and APC are frequent findings in esophageal, cardiac and gastric ADC. Additionally, the data point to a tumor specific methylation pattern in upper gastrointestinal ADC.

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