Protocadherins constitute the largest subgroup in the cadherin superfamily of cell adhesion molecules. Their major functions are poorly understood, although some are implicated in nervous system development. As tumor-specific promoter methylation is a marker for tumor suppressor genes (TSG), we searched for epigenetically inactivated TSGs using methylation-subtraction combined with pharmacologic demethylation, and identified the PCDH10 CpG island as a methylated sequence in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). PCDH10 is broadly expressed in all normal adult and fetal tissues including the epithelia, though at different levels. It resides at 4q28.3--a region with hemizygous deletion detected by array-CGH in NPC cell lines; however, PCDH10 itself is not located within the deletion. In contrast, its transcriptional silencing and promoter methylation were frequently detected in multiple carcinoma cell lines in a biallelic way, including 12/12 nasopharyngeal, 13/16 esophageal, 3/4 breast, 5/5 colorectal, 3/4 cervical, 2/5 lung and 2/8 hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, but not in any immortalized normal epithelial cell line. Aberrant methylation was further frequently detected in multiple primary carcinomas (82% in NPC, 42-51% for other carcinomas), but not normal tissues. The transcriptional silencing of PCDH10 could be reversed by pharmacologic demethylation with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine or genetic demethylation with double knockout of DNMT1 and DNMT3B, indicating a direct epigenetic mechanism. Ectopic expression of PCDH10 strongly suppressed tumor cell growth, migration, invasion and colony formation. Although the epigenetic and genetic disruptions of several classical cadherins as TSGs have been well documented in tumors, this is the first report that a widely expressed protocadherin can also function as a TSG that is frequently inactivated epigenetically in multiple carcinomas.