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J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan;48(1):132-43. doi: 10.1007/s00535-012-0621-0. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Loss of heterozygosity and methylation of multiple tumor suppressor genes on chromosome 3 in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Institute of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Shandong University School of Medicine, Jinan, 250012, China.



Genetic and epigenetic alterations are the two key mechanisms in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, how they contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis and the correlation between them has not been fully elucidated.


A total of 48 paired HCCs and noncancerous tissues were used to detect loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and the methylation profiles of five tumor suppressor genes (RASSF1A, BLU, FHIT, CRBP1, and HLTF) on chromosome 3 by using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and methylation-specific PCR. Gene expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription (RT)-PCR.


Sixteen of 48 (33.3 %) HCCs had LOH on at least one locus on chromosome 3, and two smallest common deleted regions (3p22.3-24.3 and 3p12.3-14.2) were identified. RASSF1A, BLU, and FHIT showed very high frequencies of methylation in HCCs (100, 81.3, and 64.6 %, respectively) and noncancerous tissues, but not in liver tissues from control patients. Well-differentiated HCCs showed high methylation frequencies of these genes but very low frequencies of LOH. Furthermore, BLU methylation was associated with an increased level of alpha-fetoprotein, and FHIT methylation was inversely correlated with HCC recurrence. In comparison, CRBP1 showed moderate frequencies of methylation, while HLTF showed low frequencies of methylation, and CRBP1 methylation occurred mainly in elderly patients. Treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine demethylated at least one of these genes and restored their expression in a DNA methylation-dependent or -independent manner.


Hypermethylation of RASSF1A, BLU, and FHIT is a common and very early event in hepatocarcinogenesis; CRBP1 methylation may also be involved in the later stage. Although LOH was not too frequent on chromosome 3, it may play a role as another mechanism in hepatocarcinogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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