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Lung Cancer. 2011 Feb;71(2):130-6. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2010.05.008. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

Methylation of MGMT in malignant pleural mesothelioma occurs in a subset of patients and is associated with the T allele of the rs16906252 MGMT promoter SNP.

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Institute of Human Genetics, Aarhus University, The Bartholin Building, Wilhelm Meyers Allé 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


Silencing of the DNA repair gene O⁶-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) by promoter methylation is an early event in several human cancers. MGMT removes alkyl adducts from the O⁶ position of guanine thereby preventing G>A mutations in the genome. For this reason, MGMT promoter methylation predicts a favorable outcome for glioblastoma patients treated with alkylating agents. In this study, we investigated whether MGMT becomes silenced by promoter methylation in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), an aggressive cancer of the pleura associated with a poor prognosis. Ninety-five samples from patients diagnosed with MPM were studied. These samples were genotyped for the MGMT rs16906252 promoter SNP using high-resolution melting, and methylation status was analyzed using SMART-MSP and confirmed by Sanger sequencing. The SMART-MSP assay was designed to provide information on the allelic methylation status in samples heterozygous for rs16906252. MGMT immunohistochemistry was performed on samples showing no methylation, monoallelic methylation, and biallelic methylation. Thirteen of the 95 MPM samples (13.7%) were methylation positive and a strong association with the T allele of the rs16906252 SNP (P<0.001) was observed. Detection of the protein was found to be dependent not only on the allelic methylation status but also on the methylation level, and complete silencing was observed in only one sample, showing biallelic methylation and a methylation level close to 100%. In conclusion, methylation of the MGMT promoter occurs in a subset of MPM patients and is associated with the T allele of the MGMT rs16906252 SNP. However, complete silencing of MGMT in MPM is a rare event.

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