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DNA methylation analyses of urothelial carcinoma reveal distinct epigenetic subtypes and an association between gene copy number and methylation status.

  • Martin Lauss
  • Mattias Aine
  • Gottfrid Sjödahl
  • Srinivas Veerla
  • Oliver Hultman Patschan
  • Sigurdur Gudjonsson
  • Gunilla Chebil
  • Kristina Lövgren
  • Mårten Fernö
  • Wiking Månsson
  • Fredrik Liedberg
  • Markus Ringnér
  • David Lindgren
  • Mattias Höglund
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 858-867
Publication/Series: Epigenetics
Volume: 7
Issue: 8
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Landes Bioscience

Abstract english

We assessed DNA methylation and copy number status of 27,000 CpGs in 149 urothelial carcinomas and integrated the findings with gene expression and mutation data. Methylation was associated with gene expression for 1,332 CpGs, of which 26% showed positive correlation with expression, i.e., high methylation and high gene expression levels. These positively correlated CpGs were part of specific transcription factor binding sites, such as sites for MYC and CREBP1, or located in gene bodies. Furthermore, we found genes with copy number gains, low expression and high methylation levels, revealing an association between methylation and copy number levels. This phenomenon was typically observed for developmental genes, such as HOX genes, and tumor suppressor genes. In contrast, we also identified genes with copy number gains, high expression and low methylation levels. This was for instance observed for some keratin genes. Tumor cases could be grouped into four subgroups, termed epitypes, by their DNA methylation profiles. One epitype was influenced by the presence of infiltrating immune cells, two epitypes were mainly composed of non-muscle invasive tumors, and the remaining epitype of muscle invasive tumors. The polycomb complex protein EZH2 that blocks differentiation in embryonic stem cells showed increased expression both at the mRNA and protein levels in the muscle invasive epitype, together with methylation of polycomb target genes and HOX genes. Our data highlights HOX gene silencing and EZH2 expression as mechanisms to promote a more undifferentiated and aggressive state in UC.


  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Urology and Nephrology


  • Urological research, Malmö
  • Urology
  • Urothelial Cancer Genomics
  • ISSN: 1559-2294
Markus Ringnér
E-mail: markus [dot] ringner [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Research engineer

Molecular Cell Biology


Sölvegatan 35, Lund