Quantitative methylation analysis of developmentally important genes in human pregnancy losses after ART and spontaneous conception.
Transcriptional deregulation in cancer has been shown to be associated with epigenetic alterations, in particular to tumor-suppressor- gene (TSG) promoters. In contrast, DNA methylation of TSGs is not considered to be present in normal differentiated cells. Nevertheless, we previously showed that the promoter of the tumor-suppressor gene APC is methylated, for one allele only, in normal gastric cells. Recently, RASSF1A has been shown to be imprinted in normal human placenta. To clarify putative TSG methylation in the placenta, 23 normal placental tissues from the first trimester, both decidua and villi, and four normal non-gestational endometrium were screened for DNA methylation by methylation-sensitive single-strand conformation analysis (MS-SSCA) and sequencing after bisulfite modification, on a panel of 12 genes known to be implicated in carcinogenesis. In all placental villi, four TSG promoters-APC, SFRP2, RASSF1A and WIF1-were hypermethylated, whereas all decidua and normal endometrium did not show any methylation. Allele-specific methylation analysis revealed that this methylation was monoallelic. Furthermore, comparison with maternal DNA indicated that APC and WIF1 were methylated on the maternal allele, whereas SFRP2 was methylated on the paternal allele. Sequence analysis of WIF1 mRNA revealed that only the unmethylated paternal allele was transcribed. The imprinting status of these TSGs is conserved during pregnancy. These results indicate that TSG imprinting is pre-existent in normal human placenta and should not be confused with carcinogenesis or pathology-induced methylation.