Hypermethylation of CpG island (CGI) sequences is a nearly universal somatic genome alteration in cancer. Rapid and sensitive detection of DNA hypermethylation would aid in cancer diagnosis and risk stratification. We present a novel technique, called COMPARE-MS, that can rapidly and quantitatively detect CGI hypermethylation with high sensitivity and specificity in hundreds of samples simultaneously. To quantitate CGI hypermethylation, COMPARE-MS uses real-time PCR of DNA that was first digested by methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes and then precipitated by methyl-binding domain polypeptides immobilized on a magnetic solid matrix. We show that COMPARE-MS could detect five genome equivalents of methylated CGIs in a 1000- to 10 000-fold excess of unmethylated DNA. COMPARE-MS was used to rapidly quantitate hypermethylation at multiple CGIs in >155 prostate tissues, including benign and malignant prostate specimens, and prostate cell lines. This analysis showed that GSTP1, MDR1 and PTGS2 CGI hypermethylation as determined by COMPARE-MS could differentiate between malignant and benign prostate with sensitivities >95% and specificities approaching 100%. This novel technology could significantly improve our ability to detect CGI hypermethylation.
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