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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

DNA methylation prevents the amplification of TROP1, a tumor-associated cell surface antigen gene.

We tested the hypothesis that different genes can have different abilities to be amplified after transfection under comparable selection conditions. DNA from human lymphoid or choriocarcinoma cell lines was transfected into L cells. Transfectants for CD5, CD8A, TROP1, and TROP2, genes expressed on lymphocytes or trophoblast and carcinomas, were selected by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. To select for amplification of the transfected gene we cloned twice by fluorescence-activated cell sorting the transfectants with the highest expression. We analyzed a total of 38 families (1768 clones) derived from the original transfectants. We then analyzed by Southern blotting the clones with the highest increase in surface expression and determined the copy number of each transfected gene. CD5, CD8A, and TROP2 were amplified with high frequency and progressively, whereas TROP1 essentially was not amplified at all. We examined the hypothesis that DNA methylation prevents the amplification of the TROP1 gene by treating JAR choriocarcinoma cells with 5-azacytidine to decrease DNA methylation. DNA extracted at different times after the treatment was used for transfection. When DNA that showed demethylation of the TROP1 gene was used, 16 Trop-1 transfectants were obtained and 6 of them were found to contain up to 40 copies of the TROP1 gene per haploid genome. Thus, we showed that transfectants obtained from a demethylated TROP1 gene were amplified efficiently and progressively. We propose that DNA methylation affects DNA amplification either by altering the recognition of methylated DNA sequences or by changing the conformation of the chromatin of methylated segments. We speculate that DNA methylation is a determinant of gene amplification in vivo, for example in tumor cells.[1]


  1. DNA methylation prevents the amplification of TROP1, a tumor-associated cell surface antigen gene. Alberti, S., Nutini, M., Herzenberg, L.A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1994) [Pubmed]
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