Extensive changes in DNA methylation are common in cancer and may contribute to oncogenesis through transcriptional silencing of tumor-suppressor genes1. Genome-scale studies have yielded important insights into these changes2,3,4,5 but have focused on CpG islands or gene promoters. We used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (bisulfite-seq) to comprehensively profile a primary human colorectal tumor and adjacent normal colon tissue at single-basepair resolution. Regions of focal hypermethylation in the tumor were located primarily at CpG islands and were concentrated within regions of long-range (>100 kb) hypomethylation. These hypomethylated domains covered nearly half of the genome and coincided with late replication and attachment to the nuclear lamina in human cell lines. We confirmed the confluence of hypermethylation and hypomethylation within these domains in 25 diverse colorectal tumors and matched adjacent tissue. We propose that widespread DNA methylation changes in cancer are linked to silencing programs orchestrated by the three-dimensional organization of chromatin within the nucleus.
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We acknowledge generous support of the University of Southern California Epigenome Center by the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation. We are grateful to S. Hansen for providing DNA replication data. High performance computing support was provided by the University of Southern California High Performance Computing Center (see URLs). We are greatly indebted to Denise Culhane for her superb proofreading skills.
P.W.L. is scientific advisory board member and consultant for Epigenomics, AG, which has a commercial interest in DNA methylation biomarkers. The work described in this manuscript was not supported by nor will it benefit Epigenomics, AG.
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Berman, B., Weisenberger, D., Aman, J. et al. Regions of focal DNA hypermethylation and long-range hypomethylation in colorectal cancer coincide with nuclear lamina–associated domains. Nat Genet 44, 40–46 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.969
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