Epigenetic inactivation of RASSF1A in head and neck cancer

Seung Myung Dong, Dong Il Sun, Nicole E. Benoit, Igor Kuzmin, Michael I. Lerman, David Sidransky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Purpose: RASSF1A, a recently identified candidate tumor suppressor gene, was found to be inactivated in lung cancer and other tumor types. We sought to understand the role of RASSF1A in head and neck cancer. Experimental Design: We analyzed the status of RASSF1A and presence of high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) in head and neck cancer squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines and primary tumors. We used methylation-specific PCR to detect promoter hypermethylation and direct sequence analysis to detect point mutations in primary tumors and cell lines. 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine was used to demethylate the RASSF1A promoter in cell lines. Results: Promoter methylation of RASSF1A was detected in 42.9% (3 of 7) cell lines and 15% (7 of 46) primary tumors but not in the normal control DNA. Direct sequence analysis revealed a point mutation in a cell line and another in a primary HNSCC. After treatment with 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, re-expression and demethylation of RASSF1A gene were detected in cell lines with promoter hypermethylation. HPV DNA was detected in 34.7% (16 of 46) primary HNSCC. We found a significant inverse correlation between RASSF1A promoter methylation and HPV infection (P = 0.038). Conclusions: Our results suggest that RASSF1A is inactivated in a subset of HNSCC primary tumors. Moreover, an inverse correlation between RASSF1A and HPV supports a biological mechanism in which both RASSF1A promoter methylation and HPV infection abrogate the same pathway in tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3635-3640
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number10 I
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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