CpG island methylation is an epigenetic alteration that contributes to tumorigenesis by transcriptional inactivation of genes. Little is known about the overall levels of CpG island methylation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). To provide a baseline estimate of global aberrant methylation and identify target sequences for additional investigation, we performed Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning on 10 CLL samples. Two methylation-sensitive landmark enzymes were used (NotI and AscI), allowing assessment of over 3000 CpG islands in each sample. Tumor-derived Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning profiles were compared with profiles from CD19-selected B cells from normal volunteers and matched normal neutrophils from 4 CLL patients. We found 2.5-8.1% (mean 4.8%) of the CpG islands in CLL samples were aberrantly methylated compared with controls, and the methylation events had a nonrandom distribution (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, we identified 193 aberrantly methylated sequences, of which 93% have CpG island characteristics and 90% have homology to genes or expressed sequences. One such gene, the G protein-coupled metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (GRM7), possibly inhibits cyclic AMP signaling in the induction of apoptosis. Bisulfite sequencing of GRM7 confirmed extensive CpG island methylation, and treatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (decitabine) resulted in up-regulated expression of several genes in vitro with concurrent cellular depletion of DNMT1 protein. Our dual-enzyme global methylation study shows that CLL is characterized by widespread nonrandom CpG island methylation similar to other tumors and provides a panel of novel methylation targets that can be used in larger studies designed to assess impact on disease progression and survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research