Published online Nov 28, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i44.5013
Peer-review started: August 20, 2018
First decision: October 11, 2018
Revised: October 14, 2018
Accepted: November 7, 2018
Article in press: November 7, 2018
Published online: November 28, 2018
To investigate whether promoter methylation is responsible for the silencing of formin 2 (FMN2) in colorectal cancer (CRC) and to analyze the association between FMN2 methylation and CRC.
We first identified the expression levels and methylation levels of FMN2 in large-scale human CRC expression datasets, including GEO and TCGA, and analyzed the relationship between the expression and methylation levels. Then, the methylation levels in four CpG regions adjacent to the FMN2 promoter were assessed by MethylTarget™ assays in CRC cells and in paired colorectal tumor samples and adjacent nontumor tissue samples. Furthermore, we inhibited DNA methylation in CRC cells with 5-Aza-2’-deoxycytidine and assessed the expression of FMN2 by qRT-PCR. Last, the association between FMN2 methylation patterns and clinical indicators was analyzed.
A statistically significant downregulation of FMN2 expression in large-scale human CRC expression datasets was found. Subsequent analysis showed that a high frequency of hypermethylation occurred in the FMN2 gene promoter in CRC tissues; operating characteristic curve analysis revealed that FMN2 gene methylation had a good capability for discriminating between CRC and nontumor tissue samples (AUC = 0.8432, P < 0.0001). MethylTarget™ assays showed that CRC cells and tissues displayed higher methylation of these CpG regions than nontumor tissue samples. Correlation analysis showed a strong inverse correlation between methylation and FMN2 expression, and the inhibition of DNA methylation with 5-Aza significantly increased endogenous FMN2 expression. Analysis of the association between FMN2 methylation patterns and clinical indicators showed that FMN2 methylation was significantly associated with age, N stage, lymphovascular invasion, and pathologic tumor stage. Notably, the highest methylation of FMN2 occurred in tissues from cases of early-stage CRC, including cases with no regional lymph node metastasis (N0), cases in stages I and II, and cases with no lymphovascular invasion, but the methylation level began to decrease with tumor progression. Additionally, FMN2 promoter hypermethylation was more common in patients > 60 years old and in colon cancer tissue.
FMN2 promoter hypermethylation may be an important early event in CRC, most likely playing a critical role in cancer initiation, and can serve as an ideal diagnostic biomarker in elderly patients with early-stage colon cancer.
Core tip: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the leading cause of cancer death in the world. We identified a statistically significant downregulation of formin 2 (FMN2) expression in large-scale human CRC expression datasets and our clinical samples. Then, we first showed that a high frequency of hypermethylation occurred in the FMN2 gene promoter, which is responsible for the downregulation of FMN2 expression. Additionally, the highest methylation of FMN2 occurred in tissues from cases of early-stage CRC and patients > 60 years old. FMN2 hypermethylation may be an important early event in CRC and can serve as an ideal diagnostic biomarker in elderly patients with early-stage CRC.