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Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2012;3(3):213-27. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Promoter methylation of candidate genes associated with familial testicular cancer.

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Clinical Genetics Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Recent genomic studies have identified risk SNPs in or near eight genes associated with testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT). Mouse models suggest a role for Dnd1 epigenetics in TGCT susceptibility, and we have recently reported that transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic events may be associated with familial TGCT risk. We now investigate whether aberrant promoter methylation of selected candidate genes is associated with familial TGCT risk. Pyrosequencing assays were designed to evaluate CpG methylation in the promoters of selected genes in peripheral blood DNA from 153 TGCT affecteds and 116 healthy male relatives from 101 multiple-case families. Wilcoxon rank-sum tests and logistic regression models were used to investigate associations between promoter methylation and TGCT. We also quantified gene product expression of these genes, using quantitative PCR. We observed increased PDE11A, SPRY4 and BAK1 promoter methylation, and decreased KITLG promoter methylation, in familial TGCT cases versus healthy male family controls. A significant upward risk trend was observed for PDE11A when comparing the middle and highest tertiles of methylation to the lowest [odds ratio (OR) =1.55, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.82-2.93, and 1.94, 95% CI 1.03-3.66], respectively; P(trend)=0.042). A significant inverse association was observed for KITLG when comparing the middle and lowest tertiles to the highest (OR=2.15, 95% CI 1.12-4.11, and 2.15, 95% CI 1.12-4.14, respectively; P(trend)=0.031). There was a weak inverse correlation between promoter methylation and KITLG expression. Our results suggest that familial TGCT susceptibility may be associated with promoter methylation of previously-identified TGCT risk-modifying genes. Larger studies are warranted.


Promoter methylation; candidate gene; epidemiology; familial testicular cancer; testicular germ cell tumors


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