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Hidden among the crowd: differential DNA methylation-expression correlations in cancer occur at important oncogenic pathways

By Adrián Mosquera Orgueira


DNA methylation is a frequent epigenetic mechanism that participates in transcriptional repression. Variations in DNA methylation with respect to gene expression are constant, and, for unknown reasons, some genes with highly methylated promoters are sometimes overexpressed. In this study we have analyzed the expression and methylation patterns of thousands of genes in five groups of cancer and normal tissue samples in order to determine local and genome-wide differences. We observed significant changes in global methylation-expression correlation in all the neoplasms, which suggests that differential correlation events are frequent in cancer. A focused analysis in the breast cancer cohort identified 1,662 genes whose correlation varies significantly between normal and cancerous breast, but whose DNA methylation and gene expression patterns do not change substantially. These genes were enriched in cancer-related pathways and repressive chromatin features across various model cell lines, such as PRC2 binding and H3K27me3 marks. Substantial changes in methylation-expression correlation indicate that these genes are subject to epigenetic remodelling, where the differential activity of other factors break the expected relationship between both variables. Our findings suggest a complex regulatory landscape where a redistribution of local and large-scale chromatin repressive domains at differentially correlated genes creates epigenetic hotspots that modulate cancer-specific gene expression

Topics: DNA Methylation, Epigenomics, Gene Expression, Genomics, Cancer, breast cancer, Genetics, QH426-470
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00163
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