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Br J Cancer. 2008 Jul 22;99(2):375-82. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604452. Epub 2008 Jul 1.

DLEC1 and MLH1 promoter methylation are associated with poor prognosis in non-small cell lung carcinoma.

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Cancer Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney 2010, Australia.


The significance of chromosome 3p gene alterations in lung cancer is poorly understood. This study set out to investigate promoter methylation in the deleted in lung and oesophageal cancer 1 (DLEC1), MLH1 and other 3p genes in 239 non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC). DLEC1 was methylated in 38.7%, MLH1 in 35.7%, RARbeta in 51.7%, RASSF1A in 32.4% and BLU in 35.3% of tumours. Any two of the gene alterations were associated with each other except RARbeta. DLEC1 methylation was an independent marker of poor survival in the whole cohort (P=0.025) and in squamous cell carcinoma (P=0.041). MLH1 methylation was also prognostic, particularly in large cell cancer (P=0.006). Concordant methylation of DLEC1/MLH1 was the strongest independent indicator of poor prognosis in the whole cohort (P=0.009). However, microsatellite instability and loss of MLH1 expression was rare, suggesting that MLH1 promoter methylation does not usually lead to gene silencing in lung cancer. This is the first study describing the prognostic value of DLEC1 and MLH1 methylation in NSCLC. The concordant methylation is possibly a consequence of a long-range epigenetic effect in this region of chromosome 3p, which has recently been described in other cancers.

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