Increasing methylation of the CDKN2A gene is associated with the progression of adult T-cell leukemia

Cancer Res. 2000 Feb 15;60(4):1043-8.


In this study, we examined the methylation status of the CDKN2A gene in patients with different forms of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) using Southern blot analysis, methylation-specific PCR (MSPCR), and nucleotide sequencing. We found that the CDKN2A gene was more frequently methylated in fresh tumor cells isolated from patients with acute ATL (47%) or lymphoma-type ATL (73%) than in those with less malignant chronic (17%) and smoldering (17%) ATL. In addition, deletions of the CDKN2A gene were found in 24% of acute ATL patients; thus, abnormalities of the CDKN2A gene totaled 71% in acute ATL patients. In contrast, no CDKN2A gene methylation was found in asymptomatic carriers or uninfected individuals. Methylation of the p15 gene was not found in any samples from 36 ATL patients. Direct sequencing of the CDKN2A gene after sodium bisulfite treatment of genomic DNA revealed that the methylation of CpG sites had occurred in 24 of 32 ATL cases (75%) including chronic and smoldering ATL, even when MSPCR and the Southern blot had failed to detect CDKN2A gene methylation. Among fresh ATL samples with methylation, methylation was detected in the promoter region and exon in 17 of 24 cases, and methylation in the exon without promoter region was detected in 7 of 24 cases. In one case, the pattern of methylation proved to be different between peripheral blood cells and lymph node cells, suggesting the presence of multiple subclones with regard to methylation patterns, despite the same HTLV-I integration site. Quantitative PCR showed a marked decrease in CDKN2A mRNA expression in the cells with a methylated CDKN2A gene, especially if the promoter region was methylated. These findings suggest that CpG methylation decreases CDKN2A expression and represents a critical factor in the disease progression of ATL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Southern
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Dinucleoside Phosphates / metabolism
  • Genes, p16*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / genetics*
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / pathology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Dinucleoside Phosphates
  • cytidylyl-3'-5'-guanosine