Illumina's Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays were used to examine genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in 22 sample pairs from colorectal cancer (CRC) and adjacent tissues and 19 colon tissue samples from cancer-free donors. We show that the methylation profiles of tumors and healthy tissue samples can be clearly distinguished from one another and that the main source of methylation variability is associated with disease status. We used different statistical approaches to evaluate the methylation data. In general, at the CpG-site level, we found that common CRC-specific methylation patterns consist of at least 15,667 CpG sites that were significantly different from either adjacent healthy tissue or tissue from cancer-free subjects. Of these sites, 10,342 were hypermethylated in CRC, and 5,325 were hypomethylated. Hypermethylated sites were common in the maximum number of sample pairs and were mostly located in CpG islands, where they were significantly enriched for differentially methylated regions known to be cancer-specific. In contrast, hypomethylated sites were mostly located in CpG shores and were generally sample-specific. Despite the considerable variability in methylation data, we selected a panel of 14 highly robust candidates showing methylation marks in genes SND1, ADHFE1, OPLAH, TLX2, C1orf70, ZFP64, NR5A2, and COL4A. This set was successfully cross-validated using methylation data from 209 CRC samples and 38 healthy tissue samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas consortium (AUC = 0.981 [95% CI: 0.9677-0.9939], sensitivity = 100% and specificity = 82%). In summary, this study reports a large number of loci with novel differential methylation statuses, some of which may serve as candidate markers for diagnostic purposes.
Keywords: 450K BeadChip; DNA methylation; alterations; colorectal cancer; genome-wide.