Promoter hypermethylation patterns in fallopian tube epithelium of BRCA1 and BRCA2 germ line mutation carriers

Jonathan G. Bijron, Petra Van Der Groep, Eleonora B. Van Dorst, Laura M.S. Seeber, Daisy M.D.S. Sie-Go, René H.M. Verheijen, Paul J. Van Diest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


BRCA1/2 germ line mutation carriers have a high risk of developing fallopian tube carcinoma (FTC), thought to occur through different early (p53 signatures) and later (dysplasia, intraepithelial carcinoma) premalignant stages. Promoter hypermethylation of tumour suppressor genes is known to play a key role in (early) carcinogenesis. However, little is known about methylation in normal and (pre)malignant fallopian tube tissue. We identified 14 areas of p53 accumulation in the fallopian tubes of BRCA mutation carriers. Cells from these areas were harvested together with cells from adjacent benign appearing areas. An age-matched non-BRCA sporadic control group (n=13) and eight sporadic FTCs were included as negative and positive controls respectively. Methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to assess promoter methylation of 70 tumour suppressor genes in all samples. We observed a gradual increase in methylation from sporadic control tissue (median cumulative methylation index (CMI) 568.19) through normal tissue and from areas of p53 accumulation in BRCA carriers (median CMI 687.54 and 676.72) to FTC (median CMI 780.97). Furthermore, the methylation percentage of many individual tumour suppressor genes differed significantly between these groups, gradually increasing as for CMI. Between areas with and without p53 accumulation in BRCA mutation carriers no significant differences were found. In this paper, we have shown that BRCA mutation carriers display increased methylation of tumour suppressor genes in their nonmalignant fallopian tube epithelium, closer to methylation levels in FTC than to normal sporadic tissue. Methylation could, therefore, play an important role in the increased risk of gynaecological malignancies in BRCA mutation carriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalEndocrine-related cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cancer Research


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