Daniela Furlan, Davide Trapani, Enrico Berrino, Carla Debernardi, Mara Panero, Laura Libera, Nora Sahnane, Cristina Riva, Maria Grazia Tibiletti, Fausto Sessa, Anna Sapino and Tiziana Venesio
A compromised base excision repair (BER) promotes carcinogenesis by accumulating oxidative DNA-damaged products as observed in MUTYH-associated polyposis, a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome marked by adenomas and cancers with an accumulation of 8-oxoguanine. Remarkably, DNA global demethylation has been shown to be mediated by BER, suggesting a relevant interplay with early colorectal tumourigenesis. To check this hypothesis, we investigated a cohort of 49 adenomas and 10 carcinomas, derived from 17 MUTYH-associated polyposis patients; as adenoma controls, we used a set of 36 familial adenomatous polyposis and 24 sporadic polyps.
Samples were analysed for their mutational and epigenetic status, measured as global LINE-1 (long interspersed nuclear element) and gene-specific LINE-1 MET methylation by mass spectrometry and pyrosequencing.
MUTYH-associated polyposis adenomas were strikingly more hypomethylated than familial adenomatous and sporadic polyps for both DNA demethylation markers (P=0.032 and P=0.007 for LINE-1; P=0.004 and P<0.0001 for LINE-1 MET, respectively) with levels comparable to those of the carcinomas derived from the same patients. They also had mutations due mainly to KRAS/NRAS p.G12C, which was absent in the controls (P<0.0001 for both sets).
Our results show that DNA demethylation, together with specific KRAS/NRAS mutations, drives the early steps of oxidative damage colorectal tumourigenesis.
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