DNA methylation of developmental genes in pediatric medulloblastomas identified by denaturation analysis of methylation differences.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Volume 107, Issue 1, p.234-9 (2010)


2010, Cell Line, Tumor, Center-Authored Paper, Child, Clinical Research Division, CpG Islands, DNA Methylation, Epigenesis, Genetic, Gene Silencing, Genes, Developmental, Genomics Core Facility, Human Biology Division, Humans, Medulloblastoma, Microarray Analysis, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Receptors, Cell Surface, Shared Resources


DNA methylation might have a significant role in preventing normal differentiation in pediatric cancers. We used a genomewide method for detecting regions of CpG methylation on the basis of the increased melting temperature of methylated DNA, termed denaturation analysis of methylation differences (DAMD). Using the DAMD assay, we find common regions of cancer-specific methylation changes in primary medulloblastomas in critical developmental regulatory pathways, including Sonic hedgehog (Shh), Wingless (Wnt), retinoic acid receptor (RAR), and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). One of the commonly methylated loci is the PTCH1-1C promoter, a negative regulator of the Shh pathway that is methylated in both primary patient samples and human medulloblastoma cell lines. Treatment with the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) increases the expression of PTCH1 and other methylated loci. Whereas genetic mutations in PTCH1 have previously been shown to lead to medulloblastoma, our study indicates that epigenetic silencing of PTCH1, and other critical developmental loci, by DNA methylation is a fundamental process of pediatric medulloblastoma formation. This finding warrants strong consideration for DNA demethylating agents in future clinical trials for children with this disease.