Deregulation of Polo-like kinase (PLK) transcription via promoter methylation results in perturbations at the protein level, which has been associated with oncogenesis. Our objective was to further characterize the methylation profile for PLK1-4 in bone marrow aspirates displaying blood neoplasms as well as in cells grown in vitro. Clinically, we have determined that more than 70% of lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)/leukemia bone marrow extracts display a hypermethylated PLK4 promoter region in comparison to the normal. Decreased PLK4 protein expression due to promoter hypermethylation was negatively correlated with JAK2 overexpression, a common occurrence in hematological malignancies. In vitro examination of the PLKs under biologically relevant condition of 5% O2 revealed that the highly conserved PLKs respond to lower oxygen tension at both the DNA and the protein level. These findings suggest that PLK promoter methylation status correlates with disease and tumorigenesis in blood neoplasms and could serve as a biomarker.
Keywords: Polo-like kinases; cancer; cell cycle; epigenetics; hematology; methylation.