Hypermethylation of MAPK13 Promoter in Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Is Associated with Loss of p38δ MAPK Expression

Cancers (Basel). 2015 Oct 23;7(4):2124-33. doi: 10.3390/cancers7040881.


The loss of tumour suppressor gene function is a hallmark of malignant transformation and can occur by a variety of genetic and/or epigenetic alterations. We have previously characterised p38δ mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) as a tumour suppressor in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OESCC) and outlined how loss of p38δ MAPK expression promotes increased proliferation and migration, as well as reduced chemosensitivity. Our aim was to investigate the underlying molecular causes of loss of p38δ MAPK expression in OESCC. Sequence analysis of DNA from p38δ MAPK positive and p38δ MAPK negative OESCC cell lines was used to investigate potential loss of function causing mutations. Epigenetic control of p38δ expression in OESCC was examined using methylation-specific PCR and sequencing of bisulfite-converted DNA. We did not identify any mutations in the MAPK13 sequence in OESCC cell lines which lack p38δ MAPK expression. However, we identified a differential pattern of methylation between p38δ MAPK positive and p38δ MAPK negative cell lines. We outline here for the first time differential MAPK13 promoter methylation in OESCC. Our results suggest that epigenetic alterations are responsible, in part, for the suppression of p38δ MAPK expression and promotion of tumourigenesis in OESCC.

Keywords: epigenetics; methylation; oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; p38δ MAPK.