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Neoplasia. 2012 Jul;14(7):559-71.

Epigenetic silencing of HOPX promotes cancer progression in colorectal cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Kitasato University School of Medicine, Sagamihara, Japan.


Homeodomain-only protein X (HOPX)-β promoter methylation was recently shown to be frequent in human cancers and was suggested as tumor suppressor gene in esophageal and gastric cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanistic roles of HOPX-β promoter methylation and its clinical relevance in colorectal cancer (CRC). HOPX-β promoter methylation was assessed in human CRC cell lines and 294 CRC tissues. HOPX mRNA and protein levels were measured in relation to HOPX-β promoter methylation. The effects of forced HOPX expression on tumorigenesis were studied using in vitro and in vivo assays. The association between HOPX-β promoter methylation and clinical relevance of CRC patients was determined. HOPX-β promoter methylation is cancer-specific and frequently found in CRC cell lines and tissues, resulting in the down-regulation of HOPX mRNA and protein levels. In CRC cell lines, forced expression of HOPX suppressed proliferation, invasion, and anchorage-independent growth. DNA microarray analyses suggested critical downstream genes that are associated with cancer cell proliferation, invasion or angiogenesis. In a mouse xenograft model, HOPX inhibited tumorigenesis and angiogenesis. Finally, HOPX-β promoter methylation was associated with worse prognosis of stage III CRC patients (hazard ratio= 1.40, P = .035) and also with poor differentiation (P = .014). In conclusion, HOPX-β promoter methylation is a frequent and cancer-specific event in CRC progression. This epigenetic alteration may have clinical ramifications in the diagnosis and treatment of CRC patients.

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