Inactivation of normally expressed genes may play a role in the formation and/or progression of human cancers. Methylation of cytosine in DNA could potentially participate in such alterations of gene expression. Abnormalities in DNA methylation are a consistent feature of human neoplasms, and we now show that these include not only previously recognized widespread genomic hypomethylation, but also regional increases in gene methylation. A hot spot for abnormal methylation of C + G-rich areas has been detected on the short arm of chromosome 11 in an area known to harbor tumor suppressor genes. This change occurs consistently in common forms of human cancer and appears early during the transformation of cells with viruses including members of the human T-cell leukemia (HTLV) family. Furthermore, in one chromosome 11 gene examined, calcitonin, the increased methylation in somatic tumor cells coincides with the presence of an 'inactive' chromatin pattern in the transcriptional regulatory area. The increased regional DNA methylation demonstrated may then participate in or mark chromosomal changes associated with gene inactivation events that are central to the genesis and/or progression of human cancers.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 1988|
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