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Inverse correlation between cyclin A1 hypermethylation and p53 mutation in head and neck cancer identified by reversal of epigenetic silencing.

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Cancer Res.. 2004 Sep 64 (17).

Aberrant promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes is proposed to be a common feature of primary cancer cells. We recently developed a pharmacological unmasking microarray approach to screen unknown tumor suppressor gene candidates epigenetically silenced in human cancers. In this study, we applied this method to identify such genes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We identified 12 novel methylated genes in HNSCC cell lines, including PGP9.5, cyclin A1, G0S2, bone-morphogenetic protein 2A, MT1G, and neuromedin U, which showed frequent promoter hypermethylation in primary HNSCC (60%, 45%, 35%, 25%, 25%, and 20%, respectively). Moreover, we discovered that cyclin A1 methylation was inversely related to p53 mutational status in primary tumors (P = 0.015), and forced expression of cyclin A1 resulted in robust induction of wild-type p53 in HNSCC cell lines. Pharmacological unmasking followed by microarray analysis is a powerful tool to identify key methylated tumor suppressor genes and relevant pathways.

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