The RASSF1A tumor suppressor gene is commonly inactivated in adenocarcinoma of the uterine cervix

Yoram Cohen, Gad Singer, Ofer Lavie, Seung Myung Dong, Uziel Beller, David Sidransky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Purpose: Development of adenocarcinoma (AC) of the uterine cervix, as well as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), is strongly linked to infection by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types. Human HPV E6 and E7 proteins inactivate the tumor suppressor genes p53 and retinoblastoma, respectively. However, additional genetic alterations may be required to maintain a malignant phenotype. Allelic loss at the short arm of chromosome 3 is one of the most frequent genetic changes found in cervical cancer and various other types of human cancer, including lung, breast, and ovarian cancer. This implies that a resident tumor-suppressor gene in this region is involved in the genesis of these tumors. RASSF1A, which is located at 3p21.3, is rarely inactivated by mutations but has been suggested as a target tumor suppressor gene on the basis of its frequent inactivation through promoter hypermethylation and loss of heterozygosity in a variety of primary human cancers. In the present study, we sought to determine whether epigenetic silencing of RASSFIA caused by hypermethylation of the promoter region plays a role in the development of uterine cervical cancer. Experimental Design: We studied 51 uterine cervical carcinoma samples. These 51 cases were comprised of 31 SCCs and 20 ACs. Real-time methylation-specific PCR system was used for the detection and quantitation of the bisulfite-converted methylated version of the RASSF1A promoter region. The 20 cases of cervical AC were also analyzed for the presence of oncogenic HPV 16 DNA using a PCR-based method. Results: We found complete methylation of the RASSF1A promoter in 45% (9 of 20 samples) of AC cases. There was no promoter methylation observed in any of the 31 cases of SCC. We also correlated RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation to oncogenic HPV 16 infection. HPV 16 DNA was found in 3 of 9 (33%) AC tumors with RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation and 5 of 11 (45%) AC tumors without RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation. We could not demonstrate an inverse correlation between RASSF1A methylation and HPV 16 infection in AC of the uterine cervix. Conclusions: Hypermethylation of the RASSF1A promoter region is common in AC of the uterine cervix and rare in squamous carcinoma of uterine cervix. HPV infection does not correlate with RASSF1A methylation status in AC of the uterine cervix, but the absence of RASSF1A methylation in SCC of the uterine cervix coupled with the high incidence of HPV 16 infection in this subtype is in accord with previous reports. Our results suggest that epigenetic silencing of RASSF1A may play a role in the development of AC of the uterine cervix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2981-2984
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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