Document Type



Medicine and Health Sciences


CpG island methylation (CIM) is an epigenetic mechanism for transcriptional silencing that occurs at various stages of colon tumorigenesis. CIM has been found in serrated adenomas and hyperplastic polyps. There is also evidence for hypermethylation in aberrant crypt foci (ACF) that are found in resected colons from cancer patients. Our study addresses promoter methylation of a tumor suppressor gene, RASSF1A, within the colonic epithelium of subjects undergoing screening colonoscopies in the absence of synchronous tumors. Patients included in this study were at elevated risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) based on family history, but without a previously occurring or synchronous colon carcinoma. ACF were identified using close-focus magnifying chromendoscopy and collected by biopsy in situ. We isolated ACF and adjacent normal colonic epithelium by laser capture microdissection (LCM) and studied methylation of the RASSF1A promoter region in ACF and in adjacent normal mucosa. Expression of RASSF1A was verified using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (QRT–PCR). We found that 8.6% (3 out of 35) of ACF had K-ras mutations and 24% (6 out of 25) had RASSF1A hypermethylation. Our results demonstrate that RASSF1A hypermethylation and K-ras mutations are not mutually exclusive and are present in patients at elevated risk of CRC. Importantly, CIM of RASSF1A is an early epigenetic aberration, occurring in the absence of synchronous colon tumors and is not accompanied by field effects into the surrounding epithelium.


Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 June 17. Published in final edited form as: Carcinogenesis. 2006 July; 27(7): 1316–1322.
Published online 2006 March 2. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgi373. PMCID: PMC3117759 NIHMSID: NIHMS282644