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Integrative analysis of the epigenetic basis of muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma.

  • Author(s): Sanford, Thomas
  • Meng, Maxwell V
  • Railkar, Reema
  • Agarwal, Piyush K
  • Porten, Sima P
  • et al.

Background:Elucidation of epigenetic alterations in bladder cancer will lead to further understanding of the biology of the disease and hopefully improved therapies. Our aim was to perform an integrative epigenetic analysis of invasive urothelial carcinoma of the bladder to identify the epigenetic abnormalities involved in the development and progression of this cancer. Methods:Pre-processed methylation data and RNA-seq data were downloaded from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and processed using the R package TCGA-Assembler. An R package MethylMix was used to perform an analysis incorporating both methylation and gene expression data on all samples, as well as a subset analysis comparing patients surviving less than 2 years and patients surviving more than 2 years. Genes associated with poor prognosis were individually queried. Pathway analysis was performed on statistically significant genes identified by MethylMix criteria using ConsensusPathDB. Validation was performed using flow cytometry on bladder cancer cell lines. Results:A total of 408 patients met all inclusion criteria. There were a total of 240 genes differentially methylated by MethylMix criteria. Review of individual genes specific to poor-prognosis patients revealed the majority to be candidate tumor suppressors in other cancer types. Pathway analysis showed increase in methylation of genes involved in antioxidant pathways including glutathione and NRF2. Genes involved in estrogen metabolism were also hypermethylated while genes involved in the EGFR pathway were found to be hypomethylated. EGFR expression was confirmed to be elevated in six bladder cancer cell lines. Conclusions:In patients with invasive urothelial carcinoma, we found differential methylation in patients with better and worse prognosis after cystectomy. Differentially methylated genes are involved in many relevant oncologic pathways, including EGFR and antioxidant pathways, that may be a target for therapy or chemoprevention.

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