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Research News at Vanderbilt

Esophageal cancer complexities

by Suneethi Sivakumaran

Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is an aggressive cancer that is increasing in incidence in the United States. Wael El-Rifai, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues studied the molecular interaction between gene expression, genomics and epigenetics in EAC.

In a study published in Scientific Reports, the researchers utilized an integrated approach to analyze changes in gene expression, DNA copy numbers and promoter DNA methylation (an epigenetic modification) in human EAC tissue samples.

The investigators identified a large number of genes that are affected by copy number alterations, methylation, or both. Their bioinformatics analysis showed a strong KRAS signature, predicted activation of transcription factor networks, and identified epigenetic regulation of several pro-inflammatory genes in EAC patient samples.

The results demonstrate complex interactions between genetic and epigenetic mechanisms to control expression of genes that regulate key signaling and biological functions that define the hallmarks of EAC. These findings could serve future development of diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic biomarkers of EAC.

This research was supported by a Research Career Scientist Award and Merit Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs and by grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA206563, CA106176, TR000445).

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