Methylomic Signatures of High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer

Horacio Cardenas, Fang Fang, Guanglong Jiang, Susan M. Perkins, Chi Zhang, Robert E. Emerson, George Hutchins, Harold N. Keer, Yunlong Liu, Daniela Matei*, Kenneth Nephew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) harbours aberrant epigenetic features, including DNA methylation. In this study we delineate pathways and networks altered by DNA methylation and associated with HGSOC initiation and progression to a platinum-resistant state. By including tumours from patients who had been treated with the hypomethylating agent (HMA) guadecitabine, we also addressed the role of HMAs in treatment of HGSOC. Tumours from patients with primary (platinum-naïve) HGSOC (n = 20) were compared to patients with recurrent platinum-resistant HGSOC and enrolled in a recently completed clinical trial (NCT01696032). Human ovarian surface epithelial cells (HOSE; n = 5 samples) served as normal controls. Genome-wide methylation profiles were determined. DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) expression levels were examined by immunohistochemistry and correlated with clinical outcomes. Cancer-related and tumorigenesis networks were enriched among differentially methylated genes (DMGs) in primary OC vs. HOSE. When comparing platinum-resistant and primary tumours, 452 CpG island (CGI)-containing gene promoters acquired DNA methylation; of those loci, decreased (P < 0.01) methylation after HMA treatment was observed in 42% (n = 189 CGI). Stem cell pluripotency and cytokine networks were enriched in recurrent platinum-resistant OC tumours, while drug metabolism and transport-related networks were downregulated in tumours from HMA-treated patients compared to HOSE. Lower DNMT1 and 3B protein levels in pre-treatment tumours were associated with improved progression-free survival. The findings provide important insight into the DNA methylation landscape of HGSOC tumorigenesis, platinum resistance and epigenetic resensitization. Epigenetic reprogramming plays an important role in HGSOC aetiology and contributes to clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1216
Number of pages16
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2021


  • Ovarian cancer
  • epigenetics
  • methylation
  • platinum
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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