Background: Uterine leiomyomas, or fibroids, represent the most common benign tumor of the female reproductive tract. Fibroids become symptomatic in 30% of all women and up to 70% of African American women of reproductive age. Epigenetic dysregulation of individual genes has been demonstrated in leiomyoma cells; however, the in vivo genome-wide distribution of such epigenetic abnormalities remains unknown.
Principal Findings: We characterized and compared genome-wide DNA methylation and mRNA expression profiles in uterine leiomyoma and matched adjacent normal myometrial tissues from 18 African American women. We found 55 genes with differential promoter methylation and concominant differences in mRNA expression in uterine leiomyoma versus normal myometrium. Eighty percent of the identified genes showed an inverse relationship between DNA methylation status and mRNA expression in uterine leiomyoma tissues, and the majority of genes (62%) displayed hypermethylation associated with gene silencing. We selected three genes, the known tumor suppressors KLF11, DLEC1, and KRT19 and verified promoter hypermethylation, mRNA repression and protein expression using bisulfite sequencing, real-time PCR and western blot. Incubation of primary leiomyoma smooth muscle cells with a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor restored KLF11, DLEC1 and KRT19 mRNA levels.
Conclusions: These results suggest a possible functional role of promoter DNA methylation-mediated gene silencing in the pathogenesis of uterine leiomyoma in African American women.
This article is published online in PLoS ONE and is free to access.