High-definition DNA methylation profiles from breast and ovarian carcinoma cell lines with differing doxorubicin resistance

PLoS One. 2010 Jun 8;5(6):e11002. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011002.


Acquired drug resistance represents a frequent obstacle which hampers efficient chemotherapy of cancers. The contribution of aberrant DNA methylation to the development of drug resistant tumor cells has gained increasing attention over the past decades. Hence, the objective of the presented study was to characterize DNA methylation changes which arise from treatment of tumor cells with the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin. DNA methylation levels from CpG islands (CGIs) linked to twenty-eight genes, whose expression levels had previously been shown to contribute to resistance against DNA double strand break inducing drugs or tumor progression in different cancer types were analyzed. High-definition DNA methylation profiles which consisted of methylation levels from 800 CpG sites mapping to CGIs around the transcription start sites of the selected genes were determined. In order to investigate the influence of CGI methylation on the expression of associated genes, their mRNA levels were investigated via qRT-PCR. It was shown that the employed method is suitable for providing highly accurate methylation profiles, comparable to those obtained via clone sequencing, the gold standard for high-definition DNA methylation studies. In breast carcinoma cells with acquired resistance against the double strand break inducing drug doxorubicin, changes in methylation of specific cytosines from CGIs linked to thirteen genes were detected. Moreover, similarities between methylation profiles obtained from breast and ovarian carcinoma cell lines with acquired doxorubicin resistance were found. The expression levels of a subset of analyzed genes were shown to be linked to the methylation levels of the analyzed CGIs. Our results provide detailed DNA methylation information from two separate model systems for acquired doxorubicin resistance and suggest the occurrence of similar methylation changes in both systems upon exposure to the drug.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Doxorubicin