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BMC Cancer. 2018 Oct 22;18(1):1023. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4921-5.

The hypermethylation of p16 gene exon 1 and exon 2: potential biomarkers for colorectal cancer and are associated with cancer pathological staging.

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Department of Histology and Embryology, Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, 524023, People's Republic of China.
Analysis Center, Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, 524023, People's Republic of China.
Institute of Neurology, Affiliated Hospital, Guangdong Medical University, No. 2 Wenming Dong Road, Zhanjiang, Guangdong, 524023, People's Republic of China.
Analysis Center, Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, 524023, People's Republic of China.



Tumor suppressor gene p16 promoter hypermethylation has been widely studied in colorectal cancer (CRC), yet its clinicopathological significance remains controversial. The methylation alterations of other regions within p16 gene are still rarely researched. The present study aimed to explore the methylation changes of p16 gene body in CRC and to find whether they were associated with clinicopathological staging of CRC.


Paired colorectal cancer tissues and corresponding adjacent normal tissues from 30 CRC patients were collected. The methylation levels of two CpG islands within p16 gene body, exon 1 and exon 2, were accurately assessed simultaneously by a LC-MS/MS method. The p16 protein expressions were assessed by immunohistochemistry assay. Statistical analyses were carried out using SPSS 17.0 software. Heat-map analysis was carried out by HemI 1.0 software.


In the present study, CRC tissues showed more highly methylated than adjacent normal tissues at both CpG islands of p16 gene. And exon 2 hypermethylation was higher and more frequent than exon 1. The ROC curve analysis showed that the simultaneous use of both indicators had excellent sensitivity and specificity for distinguishing CRC tissues and adjacent normal tissues. Following, the methylation level of p16 exon 1/2 was negatively related to p16 protein expression. Further correlation analysis revealed that p16 exon 1 hypermethylation was associated with N/Dukes staging (p = 0.033), and p16 exon 2 hypermethylaiton was associated with T staging (p = 0.035).


The p16 gene body was remarkably hyper-methylated in CRC tissues and associated with p16 protein expression and cancer clinicopathological staging. The combination of p16 exon 1 and exon 2 could better reflect the overall methylation status of p16 gene body and provide potential biomarkers of CRC.


Colorectal cancer; DNA methylation; Exon 1; Exon 2; p16 gene

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