WT1 and WT1-AS genes are inactivated by promoter methylation in ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma

Cancer. 2005 Nov 1;104(9):1924-30. doi: 10.1002/cncr.21397.


Background: Ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma is associated with one of the poorest prognoses among human epithelial ovarian cancers. The authors hypothesized that Wilms tumor suppressor 1 gene (WT1) sense and antisense (WT1-AS) expression and their promoter methylation status could characterize ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma from ovarian serous adenocarcinoma.

Methods: To test this hypothesis, ovarian cancer cell lines and 42 cancer tissues (17 clear cell and 25 serous adenocarcinoma) were analyzed for expression and methylation of WT1 and WT1-AS genes.

Results: These experiments demonstrated that all serous adenocarcinoma tissues expressed both WT1 and WT1-AS genes, although expression of these genes was lacking in clear cell adenocarcinoma. The WT1 and WT1-AS promoter were significantly methylated in clear cell adenocarcinoma (88.2% and 88.2%, respectively) compared with serous adenocarcinoma (24.0% and 20.0%, respectively). Significant correlation between methylation and mRNA expression status was observed for each gene. Also in agreement with these data, WT1 and WT1-AS negative ovarian cancer cell lines reexpressed these genes after treatment with the demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine.

Conclusions: The current study shows that CpG hypermethylation is an important mechanism of WT1 and WT1-AS gene inactivation in ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma. This is the first report that has demonstrated differential expression and methylation of WT1-AS in ovarian clear cell and serous adenocarcinomas. This study presents new molecular characterizations between these two types of adenocarcinoma and may provide insight as to why clear cell adenocarcinoma has a poorer prognosis than serous adenocarcinoma of the ovary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / genetics*
  • CpG Islands
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA, Antisense / metabolism*
  • Exons
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • WT1 Proteins / genetics*


  • DNA, Antisense
  • WT1 Proteins