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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Mar;99(3):E536-43. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3495. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Integrated analysis of genome-wide methylation and gene expression shows epigenetic regulation of CYP11B2 in aldosteronomas.

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Endocrine Oncology (B.H., M.J., L.Z., E.K.) and Genetics (Y.W., P.G.M.) Branches, National Cancer Institute, and Section on Endocrinology and Genetics (P.X., F.R.F, C.A.S.), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.



Differential methylation of CpG regions is the best-defined mechanism of epigenetic regulation of gene expression.


Our objective was to determine whether any changes in methylation are associated with aldosteronomas.


We performed integrated genome-wide methylation and gene expression profiling in aldosteronomas (n = 25) as compared with normal adrenal cortical tissue (n = 10) and nonfunctioning adrenocortical tumors (n = 13). To determine the effect of demethylation on gene expression of CYP11B2, the H295R cell line was used.


The methylome of aldosteronomas, normal adrenal cortex, and nonfunctioning adrenocortical tumors was distinct, with hypomethylation of aldosteronomas. Integrated analysis of gene expression and methylation status showed that 53 of 60 genes were hypermethylated and downregulated, or hypomethylated and upregulated, in aldosteronomas. Of these, 3 genes that regulate steroidogenic signals and synthesis in adrenocortical cells were differentially methylated: AVPR1α and PRKCA were downregulated and hypermethylated, and CYP11B2 was upregulated and hypomethylated. Demethylation treatment resulted in upregulation of these genes, with direct hypomethylation of CpG sites associated with the genes. The CpG island in the promoter region of CYP11B2 was hypomethylated in aldosteronomas but not in blood DNA from the same patients (P = .0004).


Altered methylation in aldosteronomas is associated with dysregulated expression of genes involved in steroid biosynthesis. Aldosteronomas are hypomethylated, and CYP11B2 is overexpressed and hypomethylated in these tumors.

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