Glutathione S-transferase pi 1 (GSTP1) is lowly expressed in normal prostate luminal cells and becomes induced in most proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA) lesions. GSTP1 becomes silenced in prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) and prostate adenocarcinoma (CaP) via cytosine-phospho-guanine (CpG) island promoter hypermethylation. However, GSTP1 methylation patterns in PIA and PIN, and their relationship to patterns in CaP are poorly understood. We used bisulfite genomic sequencing to examine patterns of GSTP1 promoter CpG island methylation in laser capture microdissected benign, PIA, PIN, and CaP regions from 32 subjects that underwent radical prostatectomy. We analyzed 908 sequence clones across 24 normal epithelium, 37 PIA, 18 PIN, and 23 CaP regions, allowing assessment of 34,863 CpG sites with allelic phasing. Normal and PIA lesions were mostly unmethylated with 0.52 and 1.3% of total CpG sites methylated, respectively. PIN and CaP lesions had greater methylation with 24% and 51% of total CpG sites methylated, respectively. The degree of GSTP1 methylation showed progression from PIA << PIN < CaP. PIN lesions showed more partial methylation compared with CaP lesions. Partially methylated lesions were enriched for methylation changes at AP1 and SP1 transcription factor binding sites. These results demonstrate that methylation density in the GSTP1 CpG island in PIN was intermediate relative to that in normal prostate epithelium/PIA and CaP lesions. These results are consistent with gradual spreading of DNA methylation centered at the SP1/AP1 transcription factor binding sites in precursor lesions, with subsequent spreading of methylation across the entire CpG island in transition to CaP.
DNA hypermethylation at the GSTP1 promoter progressively spreads from being unmethylated in normal prostate to intermediate levels in precursor lesions to extensive methylation in cancer. This molecular progression of GSTP1 promoter methylation patterns in early prostate carcinogenesis could be useful for identification and interception of prostate cancer precursors.