A subgroup of colorectal cancer (CRC) shows non-random accumulation of aberrant DNA methylation, so-called CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), which was associated with microsatellite instability and BRAF mutation. As just one group of methylation markers was suitable to extract CIMP+/CIMP-high, and had been commonly used in the "one-panel method", it had been unclear whether another cluster of CRC with DNA methylation accumulation exists in microsatellite-stable CRC. We therefore epigenotyped CRC by a comprehensive approach, that is, the two-way unsupervised hierarchical clustering method using highly quantitative methylation data by a single detection method, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, on novel regions selected genome-widely through methylated DNA immunoprecipitation on array analysis. CRC was clearly clustered into three DNA methylation epigenotypes, high-, intermediate- and low-methylation epigenotypes (HME, IME, and LME, respectively). Methylation markers are clustered into two distinct groups: Group-1 methylated specifically in HME and including most reported CIMP-related markers; and Group-2 methylated both in HME and IME. While suitable markers to detect a subgroup of CRC with intermediate methylation and correlation to KRAS mutation have been expected to be developed, our data indicated that a "two-panel method" is necessary to properly classify CRC into three epigenotypes, the first panel to extract HME using Group-1 markers, and the second panel to divide the remaining into IME and LME using Group-2 markers. Here we review and compare our recent study and reported CRC classification methods by DNA methylation information, and propose the use of two panels of methylation markers as CRC classifiers.
© 2010 Japanese Cancer Association.