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Cancer Res. 1986 Jun;46(6):2917-22.

DNA methylation patterns of the calcitonin gene in human lung cancers and lymphomas.


Generalized hypomethylation of the genome and of specific genes has been described in human tumors. We now report that in human lung cancers, especially in the most aggressive form, small cell lung carcinoma, and in lymphomas, the 5'-region of the calcitonin (CT) gene exhibits methylation of increased numbers of CCGG sites in comparison with normal adult tissues. These unusual methylation patterns are found much less frequently in other tumor types examined. In the spectrum of the four major types of lung cancer (small cell, adeno-, squamous, and large cell carcinomas), the frequency of occurrence of hypermethylation in the 5'-region of the CT gene parallels that for presence of the neuroendocrine related biochemistry which characterizes small cell lung carcinoma. In medullary thyroid carcinoma, a tumor which expresses high levels of CT gene mRNA, the 5'-region of the CT gene is hypomethylated. Our findings provide a potential new molecular marker for two important human cancers (lung cancer and lymphomas) and suggest that there is a close relationship between abnormal CT gene methylation and developmental events for these tumors.

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