DNA methylation profiling of well-differentiated thyroid cancer uncovers markers of recurrence free survival

Veronika Mancikova, Raquel Buj, Esmeralda Castelblanco, Lucía Inglada-Pérez, Anna Diez, Aguirre A. De Cubas, Maria Curras-Freixes, Francisco Xavier Maravall, Didac Mauricio, Xavier Matias-Guiu, Manel Puig-Domingo, Ismael Capel, María Rosa Bella, Enrique Lerma, Eva Castella, Jordi Lluis Reverter, Miguel Ángel Peinado, Mireia Jorda, Mercedes Robledo

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56 Citations (Scopus)


Thyroid cancer is a heterogeneous disease with several subtypes characterized by cytological, histological and genetic alterations, but the involvement of epigenetics is not well understood. Here, we investigated the role of aberrant DNA methylation in the development of well-differentiated thyroid tumors. We performed genome-wide DNA methylation profiling in the largest well-differentiated thyroid tumor series reported to date, comprising 83 primary tumors as well as 8 samples of adjacent normal tissue. The epigenetic profiles were closely related to not only tumor histology but also the underlying driver mutation; we found that follicular tumors had higher levels of methylation, which seemed to accumulate in a progressive manner along the tumorigenic process from adenomas to carcinomas. Furthermore, tumors harboring a BRAF or RAS mutation had a larger number of hypo-or hypermethylation events, respectively. The aberrant methylation of several candidate genes potentially related to thyroid carcinogenesis was validated in an independent series of 52 samples. Furthermore, through the integration of methylation and transcriptional expression data, we identified genes whose expression is associated with the methylation status of their promoters. Finally, by integrating clinical follow-up information with methylation levels we propose etoposide-induced 2.4 and Wilms tumor 1 as novel prognostic markers related to recurrence-free survival. This comprehensive study provides insights into the role of DNA methylation in well-differentiated thyroid cancer development and identifies novel markers associated with recurrence-free survival. What's new? Follicular cell-derived carcinomas of the thyroid gland, which are the most common endocrine malignancies, are of special interest for molecular research, given their common cellular origin. However, whether epigenetic modifications contribute to the heterogeneous nature of follicular thyroid malignancies remains unclear. Here, genome-wide characterization of DNA methylation patterns of well-differentiated thyroid tumors shows that tumors with distinct subtypes and mutational status have unique methylation profiles, offering insight into the biology underlying the heterogeneity and differential outcomes of thyroid cancers. Novel markers associated with recurrence-free survival were also identified and could be used for patient classification. © 2013 UICC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-610
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • BRAF
  • Methylation
  • Prognostic markers
  • RAS
  • Well-differentiated thyroid cancer


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