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Messenger RNA expression and methylation of candidate tumor-suppressor genes and risk of ovarian cancer-a case-control analysis.

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Department of Epidemiology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


To investigate the association of expression and promoter methylation of tumor-suppressor genes with risk of ovarian cancer, we conducted a case-control study of 102 patients with serous epithelial ovarian cancer and 100 patients without ovarian cancers. We measured mRNA expression levels (by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) and methylation status (by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction) of five candidate genes (BRCA1, BRCA2, hMLH1, MGMT, and DNMT3B) in tumors from the cases and normal ovaries from the controls. We found that mRNA expression levels of the five genes were decreased in tumors than in normal ovaries with 0.39-fold for BRCA1, 0.25-fold for BRCA2, 0.42-fold for hMLH1, 0.45-fold for MGMT, and 0.87-fold for DNMT3B, calculated by the 2(-ΔΔCT) method. Ovarian cancer risk (odds ratios, ORs) was associated with low expression of all genes (2.95 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.51 - 5.78] for BRCA1, 3.65 (95% CI, 1.82 - 7.30) for BRCA2, 5.25 (95% CI, 2.52 - 10.96) for hMLH1, and 4.72 (95% CI, 2.32 - 9.62) for MGMT) but not DNMT3B. However, methylation status was not associated with gene expression levels in the tumors, except for hMLH1 whose mean (± SD) gene expression was significantly lower in methylated (13.0 ± 7.6) than in unmethylated (31.2 ± 44.8) tumors (P < 0.001). We concluded that low mRNA expression of these tumor-suppressor genes, likely due to molecular mechanisms in addition to the promoter methylation in some instances, may be a biomarker for ovarian cancer risk in this study population. Larger studies are needed to validate our findings.


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