Role of DNA methylation in the development of diffuse-type gastric cancer

Digestion. 2011;83(4):241-9. doi: 10.1159/000320453. Epub 2011 Jan 27.


Cancer cells exhibit two opposing methylation abnormalities: genome-wide hypomethylation and gene promoter hypermethylation. Downregulation of E-cadherin (CDH1) plays a key role in the development of diffuse-type gastric cancer, and DNA methylation is a major cause of the gene's silencing. Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer is caused by germline mutation of CDH1 gene, and DNA methylation frequently serves as the second hit completely inactivating the gene. In sporadic diffuse-type gastric cancer, methylation of CDH1 is more prevalent than mutation of the gene. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated gastric carcinoma (EBV-associated GC) is characterized by concurrent methylation of multiple genes, and diffuse-type gastric cancer is frequently seen among EBV-associated GCs. Patients with pangastritis or enlarged-fold gastritis, which are both caused by Helicobacter pylori infection, reportedly have an increased risk for diffuse-type gastric cancer. Notably, the gastric mucosa of enlarged-fold gastritis patients exhibits CDH1 hypermethylation and genome-wide hypomethylation. These data suggest that aberrant DNA methylation is an essential promoter of carcinogenesis in individuals at high risk for diffuse-type gastric cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Humans
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Antigens, CD
  • CDH1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • DNA, Neoplasm