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Am J Pathol. 2010 Dec;177(6):2731-40. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.100361. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Novel application of structural equation modeling to correlation structure analysis of CpG island methylation in colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


The CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP-high, CIMP1) is a distinct phenotype associated with microsatellite instability (MSI) and BRAF mutation in colon cancer. Recent evidence suggests the presence of KRAS mutation-associated CIMP subtype (CIMP-low, CIMP2). We used cluster analysis, principal component analysis (PCA), and structural equation modeling (SEM), a novel strategy, to decipher the correlation structure of CpG island hypermethylation. Using a database of 861 colon and rectal cancers, DNA methylation at 16 CpG islands [CACNA1G, CDKN2A (p16/ink4a), CHFR, CRABP1, HIC1, IGF2, IGFBP3, MGMT, MINT-1, MINT-31, MLH1, NEUROG1, p14 (CDKN2A/arf), RUNX3, SOCS1, and WRN] was quantified by real-time PCR. Tumors were categorized into three groups: Group 1 with wild-type KRAS/BRAF (N = 440); Group 2 with mutant KRAS and wild-type BRAF (N = 308); and Group 3 with wild-type KRAS and mutant BRAF (N = 107). Tumors with mutant KRAS/BRAF (N = 6) were excluded. In unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis, all but six markers (CACNA1G, IGF2, RUNX3, MGMT, MINT-1, and SOCS1) were differentially clustered with CIMP-high and CIMP-low according to KRAS and BRAF status. In SEM, the correlation structures between CIMP, locus-specific CpG island methylation, and MSI differed according to KRAS and BRAF status, which was consistent with PCA results. In conclusion, KRAS and BRAF mutations appear to differentially influence correlation structure of CpG island methylation. Our novel data suggest two distinct perturbations, resulting in differential locus-specific propensity of CpG methylation.

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