Hypomethylation of noncoding DNA regions and overexpression of the long noncoding RNA, AFAP1-AS1, in Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma

Wenjing Wu, Tushar D. Bhagat, Xue Yang, Jee Hoon Song, Yulan Cheng, Rachana Agarwal, John M. Abraham, Sariat Ibrahim, Matthias Bartenstein, Zulfiqar Hussain, Masako Suzuki, Yiting Yu, Wei Chen, Charis Eng, John Greally, Amit Verma, Stephen J. Meltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Alterations in methylation of protein-coding genes are associated with Barrett's esophagus (BE) and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Dysregulation of noncoding RNAs occurs during carcinogenesis but has never been studied in BE or EAC. We applied high-resolution methylome analysis to identify changes at genomic regions that encode noncoding RNAs in BE and EAC. Methods: We analyzed methylation of 1.8 million CpG sites using massively parallel sequencing-based HELP tagging in matched EAC, BE, and normal esophageal tissues. We also analyzed human EAC (OE33, SKGT4, and FLO-1) and normal (HEEpic) esophageal cells. Results: BE and EAC exhibited genome-wide hypomethylation, significantly affecting intragenic and repetitive genomic elements as well as noncoding regions. These methylation changes targeted small and long noncoding regions, discriminating normal from matched BE or EAC tissues. One long noncoding RNA, AFAP1-AS1, was extremely hypomethylated and overexpressed in BE and EAC tissues and EAC cells. Its silencing by small interfering RNA inhibited proliferation and colony-forming ability, induced apoptosis, and reduced EAC cell migration and invasion without altering the expression of its protein-coding counterpart, AFAP1. Conclusions: BE and EAC exhibit reduced methylation that includes noncoding regions. Methylation of the long noncoding RNA AFAP1-AS1 is reduced in BE and EAC, and its expression inhibits cancer-related biologic functions of EAC cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-966.e4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Esophageal Cancer Progression
  • Gene Regulation
  • Noncoding RNA
  • Tumor Development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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