A genome-wide cell-free DNA methylation analysis identifies an episignature associated with metastatic luminal B breast cancer
pubmed: wnt1 2023-01-29
Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Oct 25;10:1016955. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2022.1016955. eCollection 2022.
Breast cancers of the luminal B subtype are frequent tumors with high proliferation and poor prognosis. Epigenetic alterations have been found in breast tumors and in biological fluids. We aimed to profile the cell-free DNA (cfDNA) methylome of metastatic luminal B breast cancer (LBBC) patients using an epigenomic approach to discover potential noninvasive biomarkers. Plasma cfDNA was analyzed using the Infinium MethylationEpic array in a cohort of 14 women, including metastatic LBBC patients and nontumor controls. The methylation levels of cfDNA and tissue samples were validated with droplet digital PCR. The methylation and gene expression data of 582 primary luminal breast tumors and 79 nontumor tissues were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We found an episignature of 1,467 differentially methylated CpGs that clearly identified patients with LBBC. Among the genes identified, the promoter hypermethylation of WNT1 was validated in cfDNA, showing an area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.86 for the noninvasive detection of metastatic LBBC. Both paired cfDNA and primary/metastatic breast tumor samples showed hypermethylation of WNT1. TCGA analysis revealed significant WNT1 hypermethylation in the primary tumors of luminal breast cancer patients, with a negative association between WNT1 methylation and gene expression. In this proof-of-principle study, we discovered an episignature associated with metastatic LBBC using a genome-wide cfDNA methylation approach. We also identified the promoter hypermethylation of WNT1 in cfDNA as a potential noninvasive biomarker for luminal breast cancer. Our results support the use of EPIC arrays to identify new epigenetic noninvasive biomarkers in breast cancer.