The BRAFV600E causes widespread alterations in gene methylation in the genome of melanoma cells

Peng Hou, Dingxie Liu, Jianli Dong, Mingzhao Xing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Although BRAFV600E is well known to play an important role in the tumorigenesis of melanoma, its molecular mechanism, particularly the epigenetic aspect, has been incompletely understood. Here, we investigated the role of BRAFV600E signaling in altering gene methylation in the genome of melanoma cells using a methylated CpG island amplification/ CpG island microarray system and searched for genes coupled to the BRAFV600E signaling through methylation aberrations. The results indicated that a wide range of genes with broad functions were linked to BRAFV600E signaling through their hyper- or hypomethylation. Expression of 59 genes hypermethylated upon BRAF knockdown was selectively tested and found to be largely correspondingly under-expressed, suggesting that these genes were naturally hypomethylated and overexpressed with BRAFV600E in melanoma. This BRAFV600E-promoted hypomethylation was confirmed on genes selectively examined in primary melanoma tumors. Some of these genes were functionally tested and demonstrated to play a role in melanoma cell proliferation and invasion. As a mechanism of aberrant gene methylation driven by BRAFV600E, expression of the DNA methyltransferase 1 and histone methyltransferase EZH2 was profoundly affected by BRAFV600E. We have thus uncovered a previously unrecognized prominent epigenetic mechanism in the tumorigenesis of melanoma driven by BRAFV600E. Many of the functionally important genes controlled by the BRAFV600E signaling through aberrant methylation may prove to be novel therapeutic targets for melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-295
Number of pages10
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2012


  • BRAF mutation
  • DNA methylation
  • Gene hypermethylation
  • Gene hypomethylation
  • MAP kinase pathway
  • Melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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