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Mod Pathol. 2013 May;26(5):626-39. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.215. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Promoter methylation of WNT inhibitory factor-1 and expression pattern of WNT/β-catenin pathway in human astrocytoma: pathologic and prognostic correlations.

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Department of Pathology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


WNT inhibitory factor-1 (WIF1) is an antagonist of the WNT signaling pathway. We investigated the relationship between WIF1 promoter methylation and regulation of the WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway, tumor grade, and survival in patients with astrocytoma. This study included 86 cases of astrocytoma, comprising 20 diffuse astrocytomas and 66 glioblastomas. In addition, 17 temporal lobectomy specimens from patients with epilepsy were included as controls. The ratio of methylated DNA to total methylated and unmethylated DNA (% methylation) was measured by methylation- and unmethylation-specific PCR. Representative tumor tissue was immunostained for WIF1, β-catenin, cyclin D1, c-myc, and isocitrate dehydrogenase 1. Levels of WIF1 promoter methylation, mRNA expression, and protein expression in a glioblastoma cell line were compared before and after demethylation treatment. The mean percent methylation of the WIF1 promoter in astrocytomas was higher than that in control brain tissue. WIF1 protein expression was lower in the tumor group with >5% methylation than in the group with <5% methylation. Cytoplasmic β-catenin staining was more frequently observed in tumors with a low WIF1 protein expression level. Demethylation treatment of a glioblastoma cell line increased WIF1 mRNA and protein expression. Increased WIF1 promoter methylation and decreased WIF1 protein expression were not related to patient survival. In conclusion, WIF1 expression is downregulated by promoter methylation and is an important mechanism of aberrant WNT/β-catenin pathway activation in astrocytoma pathogenesis.

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