Background and purpose: Currently, human papillomavirus (HPV) positivity represents a strong prognostic factor for both reduced risk of relapse and improved survival in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). However, a subset of HPV-positive OPSCC patients still experience poor outcomes. Furthermore, HPV-negative OPSCC patients, who have an even higher risk of relapse, are still lacking suitable prognostic biomarkers for clinical outcome. Here, we evaluated the prognostic value of LINE-1 methylation level in OPSCC patients and further addressed the relationship between LINE-1 methylation status and p53 protein expression as well as genome-wide/gene-specific DNA methylation. Results: In this study, DNA was extracted from 163 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue samples retrospectively collected from stage III-IVB OPSCC patients managed with curative intent with up-front treatment. Quantitative methylation-specific PCR revealed that LINE-1 hypomethylation was directly associated with poor prognosis (5-year overall survival-OS: 28.1% for LINE-1 methylation < 35% vs. 69.1% for ≥ 55%; p < 0.0001). When LINE-1 methylation was dichotomized as < 55% versus ≥ 55%, interaction with HPV16 emerged: compared with hypermethylated HPV16-positive patients, subjects with hypomethylated HPV16-negative OPSCC reported an adjusted higher risk of death (HR 4.83, 95% CI 2.24-10.38) and progression (HR 4.54, 95% CI 2.18-9.48). Tumor protein p53 (TP53) gene is often mutated and overexpressed in HPV-negative OPSCC. Since p53 has been reported to repress LINE-1 promoter, we then analyzed the association between p53 protein expression and LINE-1 methylation levels. Following p53 immunohistochemistry, results indicated that among HPV16-negative patients with p53 ≥ 50%, LINE-1 methylation levels declined and remained stable at approximately 43%; any HPV16-positive patient reported p53 ≥ 50%. Finally, DNA methylation analysis demonstrated that genome-wide average methylation level at cytosine-phosphate-guanine sites was significantly lower in HPV16-negative OPSCC patients who relapsed within two years. The subsequent integrative analysis of gene expression and DNA methylation identified 20 up-regulated/hypomethylated genes in relapsed patients, and most of them contained LINE-1 elements in their promoter sequences. Conclusions: Evaluation of the methylation level of LINE-1 may help in identifying the subset of OPSCC patients with bad prognosis regardless of their HPV status. Aberrant LINE-1 hypomethylation might occur along with TP53 mutations and lead to altered gene expression in OPSCC.

LINE-1 hypomethylation is associated with poor outcomes in locoregionally advanced oropharyngeal cancer

Giacomarra, Vittorio;Franchin, Giovanni;Boscolo-Rizzo, Paolo;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Background and purpose: Currently, human papillomavirus (HPV) positivity represents a strong prognostic factor for both reduced risk of relapse and improved survival in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). However, a subset of HPV-positive OPSCC patients still experience poor outcomes. Furthermore, HPV-negative OPSCC patients, who have an even higher risk of relapse, are still lacking suitable prognostic biomarkers for clinical outcome. Here, we evaluated the prognostic value of LINE-1 methylation level in OPSCC patients and further addressed the relationship between LINE-1 methylation status and p53 protein expression as well as genome-wide/gene-specific DNA methylation. Results: In this study, DNA was extracted from 163 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue samples retrospectively collected from stage III-IVB OPSCC patients managed with curative intent with up-front treatment. Quantitative methylation-specific PCR revealed that LINE-1 hypomethylation was directly associated with poor prognosis (5-year overall survival-OS: 28.1% for LINE-1 methylation < 35% vs. 69.1% for ≥ 55%; p < 0.0001). When LINE-1 methylation was dichotomized as < 55% versus ≥ 55%, interaction with HPV16 emerged: compared with hypermethylated HPV16-positive patients, subjects with hypomethylated HPV16-negative OPSCC reported an adjusted higher risk of death (HR 4.83, 95% CI 2.24-10.38) and progression (HR 4.54, 95% CI 2.18-9.48). Tumor protein p53 (TP53) gene is often mutated and overexpressed in HPV-negative OPSCC. Since p53 has been reported to repress LINE-1 promoter, we then analyzed the association between p53 protein expression and LINE-1 methylation levels. Following p53 immunohistochemistry, results indicated that among HPV16-negative patients with p53 ≥ 50%, LINE-1 methylation levels declined and remained stable at approximately 43%; any HPV16-positive patient reported p53 ≥ 50%. Finally, DNA methylation analysis demonstrated that genome-wide average methylation level at cytosine-phosphate-guanine sites was significantly lower in HPV16-negative OPSCC patients who relapsed within two years. The subsequent integrative analysis of gene expression and DNA methylation identified 20 up-regulated/hypomethylated genes in relapsed patients, and most of them contained LINE-1 elements in their promoter sequences. Conclusions: Evaluation of the methylation level of LINE-1 may help in identifying the subset of OPSCC patients with bad prognosis regardless of their HPV status. Aberrant LINE-1 hypomethylation might occur along with TP53 mutations and lead to altered gene expression in OPSCC.
12-dic-2022
Pubblicato
https://clinicalepigeneticsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13148-022-01386-5
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9743592/
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3036391
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