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We analyzed 921 adenocarcinomas of the esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum to examine shared and distinguishing molecular characteristics of gastrointestinal tract adenocarcinomas (GIACs). Hypermutated tumors were distinct regardless of cancer type and comprised those enriched for insertions/deletions, representing microsatellite instability cases with epigenetic silencing of MLH1 in the context of CpG island methylator phenotype, plus tumors with elevated single-nucleotide variants associated with mutations in POLE. Tumors with chromosomal instability were diverse, with gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas harboring fragmented genomes associated with genomic doubling and distinct mutational signatures. We identified a group of tumors in the colon and rectum lacking hypermutation and aneuploidy termed genome stable and enriched in DNA hypermethylation and mutations in KRAS, SOX9, and PCBP1.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Preservation of genome integrity via the DNA-damage response is critical to prevent disease. ATR (ataxia telangiectasia mutated- and Rad3-related) is essential for life and functions as a master regulator of the DNA-damage response, especially during DNA replication. ATR controls and co-ordinates DNA replication origin firing, replication fork stability, cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair. Since its identification 15 years ago, a model of ATR activation and signalling has emerged that involves localization to sites of DNA damage and activation through protein-protein interactions. Recent research has added an increasingly detailed understanding of the canonical ATR pathway, and an appreciation that the canonical model does not fully capture the complexity of ATR regulation. In the present article, we review the ATR signalling process, focusing on mechanistic findings garnered from the identification of new ATR-interacting proteins and substrates. We discuss how to incorporate these new insights into a model of ATR regulation and point out the significant gaps in our understanding of this essential genome-maintenance pathway.
Mouse models of intestinal tumors have advanced our understanding of the role of gene mutations in colorectal malignancy. However, the utility of these systems for studying the role of epigenetic alterations in intestinal neoplasms remains to be defined. Consequently, we assessed the role of aberrant DNA methylation in the azoxymethane (AOM) rodent model of colon cancer. AOM induced tumors display global DNA hypomethylation, which is similar to human colorectal cancer. We next assessed the methylation status of a panel of candidate genes previously shown to be aberrantly methylated in human cancer or in mouse models of malignant neoplasms. This analysis revealed different patterns of DNA methylation that were gene specific. Zik1 and Gja9 demonstrated cancer-specific aberrant DNA methylation, whereas, Cdkn2a/p16, Igfbp3, Mgmt, Id4, and Cxcr4 were methylated in both the AOM tumors and normal colon mucosa. No aberrant methylation of Dapk1 or Mlt1 was detected in the neoplasms, but normal colon mucosa samples displayed methylation of these genes. Finally, p19(Arf), Tslc1, Hltf, and Mlh1 were unmethylated in both the AOM tumors and normal colon mucosa. Thus, aberrant DNA methylation does occur in AOM tumors, although the frequency of aberrantly methylated genes appears to be less common than in human colorectal cancer. Additional studies are necessary to further characterize the patterns of aberrantly methylated genes in AOM tumors.
2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Gastrointestinal malignancies are extremely rare in the pediatric population, and duodenal cancers represent an even more unusual entity. Intestinal cancers in young adults and children have been observed to be associated with functional deficiencies of the mismatch repair (MMR) system causing a cancer-predisposition syndrome. We report the case of a 16-year-old female with duodenal adenocarcinoma and past history of medulloblastoma found to have a novel germline bialleleic truncating mutation (c.[949C>T]+[949C>T]) of the PMS2 gene.
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
The aberrant methylation of CpG islands is a common epigenetic alteration found in cancers. The process contributes to cancer formation through the transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes. CpG island methylation has been observed in aberrant crypt foci (ACF) and adenomas in the colon, implicating it in the earliest aspects of colon cancer formation. In addition, some investigators have identified an age-related increase in DNA methylation of the ESR1 locus in the colon mucosa, suggesting that DNA methylation may be a pre-neoplastic change that increases the risk of colon adenomas and colon cancer. We investigated the methylation status in the promoter regions of the CDKN2A/p16, hMLH1, and MGMT genes in human non-neoplastic rectal mucosa and evaluated whether these methylation markers may predict the presence of adenomatous polyps in the colon. The promoter methylation patterns of these genes were examined in rectal biopsies (mucosa samples) of 97 colorectal adenoma cases and 94 healthy controls using methylation-specific PCR (MSP) assays. Methylation of the MGMT and hMLH1 genes was present in both cases and controls, with a frequency of 12.4% and 18.1% for the MGMT gene and 12.4% and 11.7% for the hMLH1 gene. The frequency of CDKN2A/p16 promoter methylation was very rare in normal colorectal tissue with a frequency of approximately 2%. Overall, no apparent case-control difference was identified in the methylation status of these genes, either alone or in combination. hMLH1 methylation was more frequently observed among overweight or obese subjects (BMI>/=25) with an adjusted OR of 3.7 (95% CI=1.0-13.7). Methylated alleles of the hMLH1 and MGMT genes were frequently detected in normal rectal mucosa, while the frequency of CDKN2A/p16 methylation detected was very low. The methylation status of these genes in rectal mucosa biopsies detected by MSP assays may not distinguish between patients with and without adenomas in the colon.
BACKGROUND - Methylation-mediated suppression of detoxification, DNA repair, and tumor suppressor genes has been implicated in cancer development and progression. Studies also have indicated that concordant methylation of multiple genes (methylator phenotypes), rather than a single gene, may predict cancer prognosis. The current study was designed to determine whether a methylator phenotype exists in ovarian cancer, whether methylation frequencies differ between malignant ovarian tumors and ovarian tumors with low malignant potential (LMP or borderline), and whether methylation of multiple genes affects patient survival.
METHODS - The current study included 234 consecutively diagnosed patients with either LMP (n = 19 patients) or malignant (n = 215 patients) ovarian tumors. DNA samples were extracted from fresh frozen tissues and were analyzed for methylation in the promoter region of 6 genes (p16, breast cancer 1 [BRCA1], insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 [IGFBP-3], glutathione S-transferase pi 1 [GSTP1], estrogen receptor-alpha [ER-alpha], and human MutL homologue 1 [hMLH1]) by using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction analysis.
RESULTS - The frequencies of methylation in malignant tumors and LMP tumors were 0% and 0% for GSTP1, respectively; 9% and 0% for hMLH1, respectively; 21% and 5% for BRCA1, respectively; 42% and 21% for p16, respectively; 44% and 26% for IGFBP-3, respectively; and 57% and 42% for ER-alpha, respectively. A methylator phenotype was not detected, but a calculated methylation index (MI) that was based on the total number of genes methylated in each tumor was associated with ovarian cancer risk and progression. A higher MI was associated with malignant tumors (odds ratio, 10.11; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.19-85.75) and disease progression (hazards ratio, 6.53; 95% CI, 1.39-30.65).
CONCLUSIONS - Although a methylator phenotype was not identified, the current results suggested that methylation of multiple genes may play an important role in ovarian cancer development and progression and may have clinical implications in prognosis.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, affecting approximately 147,000 people each year. Most colon cancers arise from benign neoplasms and evolve into adenocarcinomas through a stepwise histologic progression sequence that starts from adenomas or hyperplastic polyps/serrated adenomas. Genetic alterations and, more recently, epigenetic alterations have been associated with specific steps in this polyp-adenocarcinoma sequence and likely drive the histologic progression of colon cancer. Consequently, we have assessed in colon adenomas and hyperplastic polyps the methylation status of MGMT, CDKN2A, and MLH1 to determine the timing and frequency of these events in the polyp-carcinoma progression sequence and subsequently to analyze the potential for these methylated genes to be molecular markers for adenomas and hyperplastic polyps. We have found that methylated MGMT, CDKN2A, and MLH1 occur in 49%, 34%, and 7% of adenomas and in 5%, 10%, and 7% of hyperplastic polyps, respectively, and that they are more common in histologically advanced adenomas. Furthermore, analysis of fecal DNA from persons who have undergone colonoscopic exams revealed methylated CDKN2A, MGMT, and MLH1 in fecal DNA from 31%, 48%, and 0% of individuals with adenomas and from 16%, 27%, and 10% of individuals with no detectable polyps, respectively. These results show that aberrant methylated genes can be detected frequently in sporadic colon polyps and that they can be detected in fecal DNA. Notably, improvements in the specificity and sensitivity of the fecal DNA-based assays will be needed to make them clinically useful diagnostic tests for polyps.
A significant portion of gastric cancers exhibit defective DNA mismatch repair, manifested as microsatellite instability (MSI). High-frequency MSI (MSI-H) is associated with hypermethylation of the human mut-L homologue 1 (hMLH1) mismatch repair gene promoter and diminished hMLH1 expression in advanced gastric cancers. However, the relationship between MSI and hMLH1 hypermethylation has not been studied in early gastric neoplasms. We therefore investigated hMLH1 hypermethylation, hMLH1 expression and MSI in a group of early gastric cancers and gastric adenomas. Sixty-four early gastric neoplasms were evaluated, comprising 28 adenomas, 18 mucosal carcinomas, and 18 carcinomas with superficial submucosal invasion but clear margins. MSI was evaluated using multiplex fluorescent PCR to amplify loci D2S123, D5S346, D17S250, BAT 25 and BAT 26. Methylation-specific PCR was performed to determine the methylation status of hMLH1. In two hypermethylated MSI-H cancers, hMLH1 protein expression was also evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Six of sixty-four early gastric lesions were MSI-H, comprising 1 adenoma, 4 mucosal carcinomas, and 1 carcinoma with superficial submucosal invasion. Two lesions (one adenoma and one mucosal carcinoma) demonstrated low-frequency MSI (MSI-L). The remaining 56 neoplasms were MSI-stable (MSI-S). Six of six MSI-H, one of two MSI-L, and none of thirty MSI-S lesions showed hMLH1 hypermethylation (P<0.001). Diminished hMLH1 protein expression was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry in two of two MSI-H hypermethylated lesions. hMLH1 promoter hypermethylation is significantly associated with MSI and diminished hMLH1 expression in early gastric neoplasms. MSI and hypermethylation-associated inactivation of hMLH1 are more prevalent in early gastric cancers than in gastric adenomas. Thus, hypermethylation-associated inactivation of the hMLH1 gene can occur early in gastric carcinogenesis.
Twelve to 15% of sporadic colorectal cancers display defective DNA mismatch repair (MMR), manifested as microsatellite instability (MSI). In this group of cancers, promoter hypermethylation of the MMR gene hMLH1 is strongly associated with, and believed to be the cause of, MSI. A subset of colorectal neoplastic lesions arising in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is also characterized by MSI. We wished to determine whether hMLH1 hypermethylation was associated with diminished hMLH1 protein expression and MSI in IBD neoplasms. We studied 148 patients with IBD neoplasms, defined as carcinoma or dysplasia occurring in patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. MSI was evaluated using multiplex fluorescent PCR to amplify loci D2S123, BAT-25, BAT-26, D5S346, and D17S250 in all cases. Lesions were characterized as high-frequency MSI (MSI-H) if they manifested instability at two or more loci, low-frequency MSI (MSI-L) if unstable at only one locus, or MS-stable (MSS) if showing no instability at any loci. Methylation-specific PCR was performed to determine the methylation status of the hMLH1 promoter region. hMLH1 protein expression was also evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Thirteen (9%) of 148 neoplasms arising in IBD were MSI-H, comprising 11 carcinomas and 2 dysplastic lesions. Sixteen additional lesions (11%) were MSI-L, comprising 11 carcinomas and 5 dysplastic lesions. The remaining 118 neoplasms (80%) were MSS. Six (46%) of 13 MSI-H, 1 (6%) of 16 MSI-L, and 4 (15%) of 27 MSS lesions showed hMLH1 hypermethylation (P = 0.013). Diminished hMLH1 protein expression in neoplastic cell nuclei relative to surrounding normal cell nuclei was demonstrated immunohistochemically in four of four (100%) hypermethylated lesions tested. In IBD neoplasia, hMLH1 promoter hypermethylation occurs frequently in the setting of MSI, particularly MSI-H. Furthermore, hMLH1 hypermethylation and MSI are strongly associated with diminished hMLH1 protein expression in IBD neoplasms. These findings suggest that hMLH1 hypermethylation causes defective DNA MMR in at least a subset of IBD neoplasms.
Human gastric carcinoma shows a higher prevalence of microsatellite instability (MSI) than does any other type of sporadic human cancer. The reasons for this high frequency of MSI are not yet known. In contrast to endometrial and colorectal carcinoma, mutations of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes hMLH1 or hMSH2 have not been described in gastric carcinoma. However, hypermethylation of the hMLH1 MMR gene promoter is quite common in MSI-positive endometrial and colorectal cancers. This hypermethylation has been associated with hMLH1 transcriptional blockade, which is reversible with demethylation, suggesting that an epigenetic mechanism underlies hMLH1 gene inactivation and MMR deficiency. Therefore, we studied the prevalence of hMLH1 promoter hypermethylation in a total of 65 gastric tumors: 18 with frequent MSI (MSI-H), 8 with infrequent MSI (MSI-L), and 39 that were MSI negative. We found a striking association between hMLH1 promoter hypermethylation and MSI; of 18 MSI-H tumors, 14 (77.8%) showed hypermethylation, whereas 6 of 8 MSI-L tumors (75%) were hypermethylated at hMLH1. In contrast, only 1 of 39 (2.6%) MSI-negative tumors demonstrated hMLH1 hypermethylation (P<0.0001 for MSI-H or MSI-L versus MSI-negative). Moreover, hypermethylated cancers demonstrated diminished expression of hMLH1 protein by both immunohistochemistry and Western blotting, whereas nonhypermethylated tumors expressed abundant hMLH1 protein. These data indicate that hypermethylation of hMLH1 is strongly associated with MSI in gastric cancers and suggest an epigenetic mechanism by which defective MMR occurs in this group of cancers.