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Subtypes of Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma based on genome-wide methylation analysis

Abstract

Objective To identify and characterise DNA methylation subtypes in oesophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and its precursor Barrett’s oesophagus (BE).

Design We performed genome-wide DNA methylation profiling on samples of non-dysplastic BE from cancer-free patients (n=59), EAC (n=23), normal squamous oesophagus (n=33) and normal fundus (n=9), and identified methylation subtypes using a recursively partitioned mixture model. We assessed genomic alterations for 9 BE and 22 EAC samples with massively parallel sequencing of 243 EAC-associated genes, and we conducted integrative analyses with transcriptome data to identify epigenetically repressed genes. We also carried out in vitro experiments treating EAC cell lines with 5-Aza-2'-Deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC), short hairpin RNA knockdown and anticancer therapies.

Results We identified and validated four methylation subtypes of EAC and BE. The high methylator subtype (HM) of EAC had the greatest number of activating events in ERBB2 (p<0.05, Student’s t-test) and the highest global mutation load (p<0.05, Fisher’s exact test). PTPN13 was silenced by aberrant methylation in the HM subtype preferentially and in 57% of EACs overall. In EAC cell lines, 5-Aza-dC treatment restored PTPN13 expression and significantly decreased its promoter methylation in HM cell lines (p<0.05, Welch’s t-test). Inhibition of PTPN13 expression in the SK-GT-4 EAC cell line promoted proliferation, colony formation and migration, and increased phosphorylation in ERBB2/EGFR/Src kinase pathways. Finally, EAC cell lines showed subtype-specific responses to topotecan, SN-38 and palbociclib treatment.

Conclusions We identified and characterised methylator subtypes in BE and EAC. We further demonstrated the biological and clinical relevance of EAC methylator subtypes, which may ultimately help guide clinical management of patients with EAC.

  • dysplasia
  • gastrointestinal cancer
  • methylation

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