Many epigenetically inactivated genes involved in ovarian cancer (OC) development and progression remain to be identified. In this study we undertook an integrated approach that consisted of identification of genome-wide expression patterns of primary OC samples and normal ovarian surface epithelium along with a pharmacologic unmasking strategy using 3 OC and 3 immortalized normal ovarian epithelial cell lines. Our filtering scheme identified 43 OC specific methylated genes and among the 5 top candidates (GULP1, CLIP4, BAMBI, NT5E, TGFβ2), we performed extended studies of GULP1. In a training set, we identified GULP1 methylation in 21/61 (34%) of cases with 100% specificity. In an independent cohort, the observed methylation was 40% (146/365) in OC, 12.5% (2/16) in borderline tumors, 11% (2/18) in cystadenoma and 0% (0/13) in normal ovarian epithelium samples. GULP1 methylation was associated with clinicopathological parameters such as stage III/IV (p = 0.001), poorly differentiated grade (p = 0.033), residual disease (p < 0.0003), worse overall (p = 0.02) and disease specific survival (p = 0.01). Depletion of GULP1 in OC cells led to increased pro-survival signaling, inducing survival and colony formation, whereas reconstitution of GULP1 negated these effects, suggesting that GULP1 is required for maintaining cellular growth control.
Keywords: Biomarkers; DNA methylation; Epigenetics; GULP1; Ovarian cancer.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.