Identification of NHLRC1 as a Novel AKT Activator from a Lung Cancer Epigenome-Wide Association Study (EWAS)

Christian Faltus, Angelika Lahnsteiner, Myrto Barrdahl, Yassen Assenov, Anika Hüsing, Olga Bogatyrova, Marina Laplana, Theron Johnson, Thomas Muley, Michael Meister, Arne Warth, Michael Thomas, Christoph Plass, Rudolf Kaaks, Angela Risch

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftArtikelpeer review


Changes in DNA methylation identified by epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) have been recently linked to increased lung cancer risk. However, the cellular effects of these differentially methylated positions (DMPs) are often unclear. Therefore, we investigated top differentially methylated positions identified from an EWAS study. This included a putative regulatory region of NHLRC1. Hypomethylation of this gene was recently linked with decreased survival rates in lung cancer patients. HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array (450K) analysis was performed on 66 lung cancer case-control pairs from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Heidelberg lung cancer EWAS (EPIC HD) cohort. DMPs identified in these pre-diagnostic blood samples were then investigated for differential DNA methylation in lung tumor versus adjacent normal lung tissue from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and replicated in two independent lung tumor versus adjacent normal tissue replication sets with MassARRAY. The EPIC HD top hypermethylated DMP cg06646708 was found to be a hypomethylated region in multiple data sets of lung tumor versus adjacent normal tissue. Hypomethylation within this region caused increased mRNA transcription of the closest gene NHLRC1 in lung tumors. In functional assays, we demonstrate attenuated proliferation, viability, migration, and invasion upon NHLRC1 knock-down in lung cancer cells. Furthermore, diminished AKT phosphorylation at serine 473 causing expression of pro-apoptotic AKT-repressed genes was detected in these knock-down experiments. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the powerful potential for discovery of novel functional mechanisms in oncogenesis based on EWAS DNA methylation data. NHLRC1 holds promise as a new prognostic biomarker for lung cancer survival and prognosis, as well as a target for novel treatment strategies in lung cancer patients.

Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Nummer van het tijdschrift18
StatusGepubliceerd - sep. 2022
Extern gepubliceerdJa


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