Promoter hypermethylation: a common cause of reduced p16(INK4a) expression in uveal melanoma
Tumors often display unrestricted cell cycling attributable to a dysfunctional G(1)-S checkpoint. One of the mechanisms leading to such a defect is the inactivation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p16(INK4a). Although inactivation of p16(INK4a) is observed in a wide range of tumors, including cutaneous melanoma, genetic alteration of p16(INK4a) is reportedly uncommon in uveal melanoma. Here we show that the p16(INK4a) promoter is hypermethylated in 6 of 12 uveal melanoma cell lines and
... noma cell lines and in 7 of 22 primary uveal melanomas analyzed. Five of seven patients with a methylated primary tumor died of metastatic disease compared with 2 of 15 patients with a nonmethylated primary tumor. We also show that all uveal melanoma cell lines with a hypermethylated p16(INK4a) promoter have lost p16(INK4a) expression but have maintained the expression of p14(ARF). Treatment of uveal melanoma cell lines with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine results in demethylation of p16(INK4a) and in reexpression of p16(INK4a) mRNA, which is maintained upon withdrawal of the 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. In conclusion, p16(INK4a) promoter methylation appears to be a common event in uveal melanoma and is accompanied by the loss of p16(INK4a) expression.