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A DNA methylation signature associated with the epigenetic repression of glycine N-methyltransferase in human hepatocellular carcinoma

A DNA methylation signature associated with the epigenetic repression of glycine N-methyltransferase in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Journal of Molecular Medicine 91(8): 939-950

The basic mechanisms underlying promoter DNA hypermethylation in cancer are still largely unknown. It has been proposed that the levels of the methyl donor group in DNA methylation reactions, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), might be involved. SAMe levels depend on the glycine-N-methyltransferase (GNMT), a one-carbon group methyltransferase, which catalyzes the conversion of SAMe to S-adenosylhomocysteine in hepatic cells. GNMT has been proposed to display tumor suppressor activity and to be frequently repressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we show that GNMT shows aberrant DNA hypermethylation in some HCC cell lines and primary tumors (20 %). GNMT hypermethylation could contribute to gene repression and its restoration in cell lines displaying hypermethylation-reduced tumor growth in vitro. In agreement, human primary tumors expressing GNMT were of smaller size than tumors showing GNMT hypermethylation. Genome-wide analyses of gene promoter methylation identified 277 genes whose aberrant methylation in HCC was associated with GNMT methylation/expression. The findings in this manuscript indicate that DNA hypermethylation plays an important role in the repression of GNMT in HCC and that loss of GNMT in human HCC could promote the establishment of aberrant DNA methylation patterns at specific gene promoters.

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Accession: 036802251

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PMID: 23475283

DOI: 10.1007/s00109-013-1010-8

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