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Oncogene. 2011 Sep 15;30(37):3967-78. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.109. Epub 2011 Apr 18.

SPG20, a novel biomarker for early detection of colorectal cancer, encodes a regulator of cytokinesis.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Prevention, Institute for Cancer Research, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


Colorectal cancer is a common disease with high mortality. Suitable biomarkers for detection of tumors at an early curable stage would significantly improve patient survival. Here, we show that the SPG20 (spastic paraplegia-20) promoter, encoding the multifunctional Spartin protein, is hypermethylated in 89% of colorectal carcinomas, 78% of adenomas and only 1% of normal mucosa samples. SPG20 methylation was also present in a pilot series of stool samples and corresponding tumors from colorectal cancer patients. SPG20 promoter hypermethylation resulted in loss of mRNA expression in various cancer types and subsequent depletion of Spartin. We further showed that Spartin downregulation in cancer cells resulted in cytokinesis arrest, which was reversed when SPG20 methylation was inhibited. The present study identifies SPG20 promoter hypermethylation as a biomarker suitable for non-invasive detection of colorectal cancer, and a possible mechanism for cytokinesis arrest in colorectal tumorigenesis.

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