Background: Genome-wide DNA hypomethylation plays a role in genomic instability and carcinogenesis. DNA methylation in the long interspersed nucleotide element 1 L1 (LINE-1) repetitive element is a good indicator of global DNA methylation level. LINE-1 methylation is a useful marker for predicting cancer prognosis and monitoring efficacy of adjuvant therapy. Nonetheless, no study has examined LINE-1 methylation in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). The aim of this study is to assess the precision of sodium bisulfite conversion and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) pyrosequencing assay for evaluating LINE-1 methylation in ESCC.
Methods: To measure assay precision, we performed bisulfite conversion on 5 different DNA specimen aliquots (bisulfite-to-bisulfite) and repeated PCR pyrosequencing five times (run to run). Second, to assess heterogeneity of LINE-1 methylation levels within tumor, we made 5 different tissue sections from one tumor and examined LINE-1 methylation level of each section (section to section). Third, to evaluate LINE-1 methylation status in ESCC, we applied this assay to 30 ESCCs and 30 matched normal esophageal mucosa.
Results: Bisulfite-to-bisulfite standard deviation (SD) ranged from 1.44 to 2.90 (median 2.32) in ESCCs; and 0.57 to 4.02 (median 1.23) in normal esophagus. Run-to-run SD ranged from 0.63 to 3.25 (median 1.54) in ESCCs. Section-to-section SD ranged from 1.37 to 3.31 (median 1.94). ESCC tissues showed significantly lower levels of LINE-1 methylation than matched normal mucosa (P < .0001; n = 30). There was no significant relationship between LINE-1 methylation level and tumor stage (P = 0.14).
Conclusions: Bisulfite conversion and PCR pyrosequencing assay can measure LINE-1 methylation in ESCC, and may be useful in clinical and research settings.