The biological significance of methylome differences in human papilloma virus associated head and neck cancer

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Oncol Lett


In recent years, studies have suggested that promoter methylation in human papilloma virus (HPV) positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has a mechanistic role and has the potential to improve patient survival. The present study aimed to replicate key molecular findings from previous analyses of the methylomes of HPV positive and HPV negative HNSCC in an independent cohort, to assess the reliability of differentially methylated markers in HPV-associated tumors. HPV was measured using real-time quantitative PCR and the biological significance of methylation differences was assessed by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA). Using an identical experimental design of a 450K methylation platform, 7 of the 11 genes were detected to be significantly differentially methylated and all 11 genes were either hypo- or hypermethylated, which was in agreement with the results of a previous study. IPA's enriched networks analysis identified one network with msh homeobox 2 (MSX2) as a central node. Locally dense interactions between genes in networks tend to reflect significant biology; therefore MSX2 was selected as an important gene. Sequestration in the top four canonical pathways was noted for 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 1E (serotonin signaling), collapsin response mediator protein 1 (semaphorin signaling) and paired like homeodomain 2 (bone morphogenic protein and transforming growth factor-β signaling). Placement of 9 of the 11 genes in highly ranked pathways and bionetworks identified key biological processes to further emphasize differences between HNSCC HPV positive and negative pathogenesis.

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