The development and progression of lung adenocarcinoma, one of the most common cancers, is driven by the interplay of genetic and epigenetic changes and the role of chromatin structure in malignant transformation remains poorly understood. We used systematic nucleosome distribution and chromatin accessibility microarray mapping platforms to analyze the genome-wide chromatin structure from normal tissues and from primary lung adenocarcinoma of different grades and stages. We identified chromatin-based patterns across different patients with lung adenocarcinoma of different cancer grade and stage. Low-grade cancers had nucleosome distributions very different compared with the corresponding normal tissue but had nearly identical chromatin accessibility. Conversely, nucleosome distributions of high-grade cancers showed few differences. Substantial disruptions in chromosomal accessibility were seen in a patient with a high-grade and high-stage tumor. These data imply that chromatin structure changes during the progression of lung adenocarcinoma. We have therefore developed a model in which low-grade lung adenocarcinomas are linked to changes in nucleosome distributions, whereas higher-grade tumors are linked to large-scale chromosomal changes. These results provide a foundation for the development of a comprehensive framework linking the general and locus-specific roles of chromatin structure to lung cancer progression. We propose that this strategy has the potential to identify a new class of chromatin-based diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic markers in cancer progression.
Keywords: MNase; accessibility; adenocarcinoma; cancer; chromatin; chromosome; genome; lung; microarray; nucleosome.