In cancer, DNA methylation causes alteration in gene expression affecting important signal transduction pathways. Since methylation occurs at a very early stage and is reversible, hypermethylated promoters hold great promise as biomarkers for early detection and effective drug targets for gene reactivation. The Notch signaling pathway is one such important developmental pathway governing cell fate decisions. Dysregulated Notch signaling is found to have a prominent role in the development of various cancers. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor, with a very poor prognosis despite advanced treatment facilities due to poor molecular stratification. It is therefore important to study genetic and epigenetic events leading to gliomagenesis and to guide new treatment strategies. The aim of this study was to detect Notch pathway genes potentially regulated by promoter methylation in human GBM. We used real-time PCR and quantitative methylation-specific PCR to study methylation status of underexpressed Notch pathway genes from human GBM formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections. 50% of samples showed methylation at Notch4 gene promoter at levels higher than 25 % (P < 0.05). However, JAG2 gene promoter was estimated to be methylated at a negligible level (<2 %) (P < 0.05). Our study showed poor gene expression and high-level methylation of Notch4 gene, suggesting a possibility of epigenetic silencing. However, low JAG2 gene expression despite not being highly methylated suggests lack of correlation between gene expression and promoter methylation and the presence of alternative regulatory mechanisms. This study for the first time provides gene expression and DNA methylation profiles of Notch pathway genes from GBM patient samples. We have identified genes whose expression may be regulated by epigenetic mechanisms and thus can be used as potential biomarkers. This study will eventually give clues to improve diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of GBM.

Citation Format: Madhuri G S Aithal, Rajeswari Narayanappa. Role of promoter methylation in regulation of Notch4 and JAG2 gene expression in human glioblastoma [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference: Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics; 2017 Oct 26-30; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Mol Cancer Ther 2018;17(1 Suppl):Abstract nr A177.