Hypermethylation of the proapoptotic gene TMS1/ASC: prognostic importance in glioblastoma multiforme
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The identification of clinical subsets of glioblastomas (GBM) associated with different molecular genetic profiles had opened the possibility to design tailored therapies to individual patients. One of the most intrigued subtypes is the long-term survival (LTS) GBM, which responds better to current therapies. The present investigation on GBM from 50 consecutive GBM displaying classic survival and seven LTS GBM is based on molecular epigenetic, clinical and histopathological analyses. Our aim was to recognize biomarkers useful to distinguish LTS from classic GBM. We analyzed the promoter methylation status of key regulator genes implicated in tumor invasion (TIMP2, TIMP3), apoptosis and inflammation (TMS1/ASC, DAPK) as well as overall survival, therapy status and tumor pathological features. For the first purpose a methylation-specific PCR approach was performed to analyze the CpG island promoter methylation status of each gene. The overall TMS1/ASC methylation rate in the 57 analyzed tumors was 21.05%. Hypermethylation of TMS1/ASC was significantly more frequent in LTS GBM (57.1% vs. 16%, P = 0.029, Fisher’s exact test). DAPK promoter hypermethylation was only observed in the LTS subset (14.3%) whereas TIMP2 and TIMP3 were unmethylated in both GBM collectives. Our results strongly suggest that, compared to classic GBM, LTS GBM display distinct epigenetic characteristics which might provide additional prognostic biomarkers for the assessment of this malignancy.