The CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) in colorectal tumours can be recognized by an increased frequency of aberrant methylation in a specific set of genomic loci. Because of the strong association of CIMP with high microsatellite instability (MSI-H), the identification of CIMP+ tumours within microsatellite stable (MSS) colorectal cancers may not be straightforward. To overcome this potential limitation, we have built an improved seven-locus set of methylation markers that includes CACNA1G, IGF2, RUNX3, HTR6, RIZ1, MINT31, and MAP1B. This new set of CIMP markers revealed a bimodal distribution of methylation frequencies in a group of 95 MSS colorectal cancers, which allowed a clearer separation between CIMP classes. Correlation of MSS CIMP+ tumours with bio-pathological traits revealed significant associations with location to the proximal colon, mucinous histology, BRAF mutation, and chromosomal stability. A potential trend towards an adverse prognosis of CIMP+ cases was associated with the high frequency of BRAF mutations present within this cohort of tumours. Microarray analysis revealed that CIMP+ tumours are characterized by a unique expression profile, a result that confirms that CIMP+ tumours represent a truly distinct molecular class within MSS colorectal cancers.
Copyright (c) 2008 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland