Aim: Gain insight about the role of DNA methylation in the malignant growth of colon cancer. Patients & methods: Methylation and gene expression from 90 adjacent-tumor paired tissues and 48 healthy tissues were analyzed. Tumor genes whose change in expression was explained by changes in methylation were identified using linear models adjusted for tumor stromal content. Results: No differences in methylation were found between adjacent and healthy tissues, but clear differences were found between adjacent and tumor samples. We identified hypermethylated CpG islands located in promoter regions that drive differential gene expression of transcription factors and their target genes. Conclusion: Changes in methylation of a few genes provoke important changes in gene expression, by expanding the signal through transcription activation/repression.
Keywords: DNA methylation; colon cancer; differential methylation; gene expression; transcription factors.