EPIGENETIC SILENCING OF GENE EXPRESSION IN PAEDIATRIC MALIGNANT ASTROCYTOMA.
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AbstractBrain tumours account for the most frequent type of solid tumours among children. Despite advances in surgery and chemotherapy, brain tumours are still the main cause of cancer deaths in children. Furthermore, little is known about DNA methylation changes in paediatric astrocytoma. Recent investigations suggest that many tumours are initiated not only by genetic abnormalities, but also caused by epigenetic changes. DNA methylation is a key epigenetic mechanism that controls the regulation of gene expression. Interestingly, unlike DNA mutations, epigenetic abnormalities are reversible. The reversibility of epigenetic abnormalities upon pharmacological unmasking has prompted interest in developing epigenetic therapy with the crucial goal of restoring the expression of aberrantly silenced genes. The focus of this study was to utilise a combination of different microarray strategies to develop an integrative candidate gene approach to identify several novel frequently methylated genes in a cohort of paediatric HGA (High grade glioma) samples. In addition, to investigate the potential of therapeutic efficacy of a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-Aza-dC in paediatric HGA. There were 147 genes commonly identified to be potentially methylated in IN699 cells using the two different array strategies integration; re-expression array and Illumina Infinium Human Methylation 450k array. Furthermore, using two complementary microarray strategies including methylation 450k array and expression array, this work identified 55 genes that were both methylated and under-expressed in these HGA cultures. Following validation with CoBRA and RT-PCR coupled with the response of hypermethylated promoters to the demethylating agent 5-Aza-dC, six novel genes (CXCL14, PRR5L, ELTD1, ITGA2, KRT8 and NTM) that are frequently silenced in paediatric astrocytoma were identified. This study suggests that re-expression of ii CXCL14 inhibited the colony formation and cell growth and reduces the migration rate significantly in IN699 short term culture and likely have functional significance in the development of paediatric HGA and an excellent candidate gene for further analysis. In parallel, the efficacy of 5-Aza-dC treatment was examined in paediatric HGA aiming to introduce this epigenetic therapy as a potential mechanism in management of this tumours. This study demonstrated that, relatively low dose of 5-Aza-dC sharply reduced the colony formation and inhibited proliferation and not through the apoptotic effect. It is likely that this reduction in proliferation without cell death is due to using relatively low doses that do not acutely kill cells, thus, allow the sustained alterations in both gene expression patterns and appearance of a new phenotype to emerge. Taken together, this work contributes to a more detailed understanding of the effect of epigenetic silencing on paediatric HGA. This investigation also demonstrated the use of epigenetic drug, 5-aza-dC to reverse the gene silencing for the potential treatment of paediatric HGA.
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.