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Endocrine-related cancer

Genome-wide alterations in gene methylation by the BRAF V600E mutation in papillary thyroid cancer cells.


PMID 21937738

Abstract

The BRAF V600E mutation plays an important role in the tumorigenesis of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). To explore an epigenetic mechanism involved in this process, we performed a genome-wide DNA methylation analysis using a methylated CpG island amplification (MCA)/CpG island microarray system to examine gene methylation alterations after shRNA knockdown of BRAF V600E in thyroid cancer cells. Our results revealed numerous methylation targets of BRAF V600E mutation with a large cohort of hyper- or hypo-methylated genes in thyroid cancer cells, which are known to have important metabolic and cellular functions. As hypomethylation of numerous genes by BRAF V600E was particularly a striking finding, we took a further step to examine the selected 59 genes that became hypermethylated in both cell lines upon BRAF V600E knockdown and found them to be mostly correspondingly under-expressed (i.e. they were normally maintained hypomethylated and over-expressed by BRAF V600E in thyroid cancer cells). We confirmed the methylation status of selected genes revealed on MCA/CpG microarray analysis by performing methylation-specific PCR. To provide proof of concept that some of the genes uncovered here may play a direct oncogenic role, we selected six of them to perform shRNA knockdown and examined its effect on cellular functions. Our results demonstrated that the HMGB2 gene played a role in PTC cell proliferation and the FDG1 gene in cell invasion. Thus, this study uncovered a prominent epigenetic mechanism through which BRAF V600E can promote PTC tumorigenesis by altering the methylation and hence the expression of numerous important genes.