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RAB25 expression is epigenetically downregulated in oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma with lymph node metastasis

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posted on 2016-07-05, 21:22 authored by M. J. A. M. Clausen, L. J. Melchers, M. F. Mastik, L. Slagter-Menkema, H. J. M. Groen, B. F. A. M. van der Laan, W. van Criekinge, T. de Meyer, S. Denil, B. van der Vegt, G. B. A. Wisman, J. L. N. Roodenburg, E. Schuuring

Oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OOSCC) have a low survival rate, mainly due to metastasis to the regional lymph nodes. For optimal treatment of these metastases, a neck dissection is required; however, inaccurate detection methods results in under- and over-treatment. New DNA prognostic methylation biomarkers might improve lymph node metastases detection. To identify epigenetically regulated genes associated with lymph node metastases, genome-wide methylation analysis was performed on 6 OOSCC with (pN+) and 6 OOSCC without (pN0) lymph node metastases and combined with a gene expression signature predictive for pN+ status in OOSCC. Selected genes were validated using an independent OOSCC cohort by immunohistochemistry and pyrosequencing, and on data retrieved from The Cancer Genome Atlas. A two-step statistical selection of differentially methylated sequences revealed 14 genes with increased methylation status and mRNA downregulation in pN+ OOSCC. RAB25, a known tumor suppressor gene, was the highest-ranking gene in the discovery set. In the validation sets, both RAB25 mRNA (P = 0.015) and protein levels (P = 0.012) were lower in pN+ OOSCC. RAB25 mRNA levels were negatively correlated with RAB25 methylation levels (P < 0.001) but RAB25 protein expression was not. Our data revealed that promoter methylation is a mechanism resulting in downregulation of RAB25 expression in pN+ OOSCC and decreased expression is associated with lymph node metastasis. Detection of RAB25 methylation might contribute to lymph node metastasis diagnosis and serve as a potential new therapeutic target in OOSCC.

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