Author(s): Costello JF, Berger MS, Huang HS, Cavenee WK
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Abstract The product of the p16/CDKN2 locus, p16ink4, negatively regulates the cell cycle through binding and inactivation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) 4 and 6. This locus is frequently targeted for deletion in cell lines and primary tumor tissues. In gliomas, although up to 50\% do not have detectable expression of p16/CDKN2 protein or mRNA, often the gene is wild type in sequence. Here, we tested the hypothesis that transcriptional repression of p16/CDKN2 in gliomas may be mediated by aberrant methylation of the CpG island, which is in the 5' region of the locus. Partial rather than complete p16/CDKN2 methylation was detected in 24\% (10 of 42) of the gliomas, regardless of tumor grade, but was not observed in normal brain (0 of 10). We tested whether this partial methylation could inhibit expression in a human tumor cell line in which suppressed p16/CDKN2 expression was associated with both methylation and tightly compacted chromatin around the p16/CDKN2 promoter. Exposure of these cells to 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine resulted in a dramatic increase in promoter accessibility and induction of p16/CDKN2 expression, indicating that chromatin structure, CpG island methylation, and p16/CDKN2 expression are intimately associated. Taken together, these data suggest that methylation occurs in only a subset of cells within gliomas and that the methylation-associated inactivation of p16/CDKN2 expression observed in many common human cancers may mechanistically result from structural changes in the chromatin containing the p16/CDKN2 locus.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis