KEAP1 regulates the cytoprotection induced by NRF2 and has been reported to be a candidate tumor suppressor. Recent evidence has shown that mutations in several driver genes cause aberrant DNA methylation patterns, a hallmark of cancer. However, the correlation between KEAP1 mutations and DNA methylation in lung cancer has still not been investigated. In this study, we systematically carried out an integrated multi-omics analysis to explore the correlation between KEAP1 mutations and DNA methylation and its effect on gene expression in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). We found that most of the DNA aberrations associated with KEAP1 mutations in LAUD were hypomethylation. Surprisingly, we found several NRF2-regulated genes among the genes that showed differential DNA methylation. Moreover, we identified an 8-gene signature with altered DNA methylation pattern and elevated gene expression levels in LUAD patients with mutated KEAP1, and evaluated the prognostic value of this signature in various clinical datasets. These results establish that KEAP1 mutations are associated with DNA methylation changes capable of shaping regulatory network functions. Combining both epigenomic and transcriptomic changes along with KEAP1 mutations may provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms associated with the progression of lung cancer and may help to provide better therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: DNA methylation; KEAP1; NRF2; TCGA; lung cancer.