Journal Article DNA Methylation Patterns in Rat Mammary Carcinomas Induced by Pre- and Post-Pubertal Irradiation

Takabatake, Masaru  ,  J. Blyth, Benjamin  ,  Daino, Kazuhiro  ,  Imaoka, Tatsuhiko  ,  Nishimura, Mayumi  ,  Fukushi, Masahiro  ,  Shimada, Yoshiya

2016-10 , Public Library of Science.
Several lines of evidence indicate one’s age at exposure to radiation strongly modifies the risk of radiation-induced breast cancer. We previously reported that rat mammary carcinomas induced by pre- and post-pubertal irradiation have distinct gene expression patterns, but the changes underlying these differences have not yet been characterized. The aim of this investigation was to see if differences in CpG DNA methylation were responsible for the differences in gene expression between age at exposure groups observed in our previous study. DNA was obtained from the mammary carcinomas arising in female Sprague-Dawley rats that were either untreated or irradiated (γ-rays, 2 Gy) during the pre- or post-pubertal period (3 or 7 weeks old). The DNA methylation was analyzed using CpG island microarrays and the results compared to the gene expression data from the original study. Global DNA hypomethylation in tumors was accompanied by gene-specific hypermethylation, and occasionally, by unique tumor-specific patterns. We identified methylation-regulated gene expression candidates that distinguished the pre- and post-pubertal irradiation tumors, but these represented only 2 percent of the differentially expressed genes, suggesting that methylation is not a major or primary mechanism underlying the phenotypes. Functional analysis revealed that the candidate methylation-regulated genes were enriched for stem cell differentiation roles, which may be important in mammary cancer development and worth further investigation. However, the heterogeneity of human breast cancer means that the interpretation of molecular and phenotypic differences should be cautious, and take into account the co-variates such as hormone receptor status and cell-of-origin that may influence the associations.

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