Detailed mapping of methylcytosine positions at the CpG island surrounding the Pa promoter at the bcr-abl locus in CML patients and in two cell lines, K562 and BV173
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is associated with a translocation of the protooncogene c-abl from chromosome 9 to chromosome 22, where it fuses to proximal exons of the bcr gene. The expression of the hybrid gene bcr-abl is regulated by the bcr promoter and results in a translation product with high tyrosine kinase activity. In most CML cases, one of two abl promoters (Pa) is nested within the bcr-abl transcription unit, but appears to be usually silent. Recently, de novo methylation of the Pa region and its correlation with disease progression were reported. As these previous studies were limited to the use of methylation-sensitive restriction endonucleases, our aim here was to obtain a complete map of methylcytosines and its variants in CML patients and in model cell lines, To achieve this, bisulfite conversion of cytosines (but not methylcytosines) to uracils in genomic DNA was employed, After modification, the region of interest was PCR-amplified and the products were cloned and sequenced. The results show methylation at a high level and in a homogenous pattern in the BV173 cell line, corresponding to the translocated abl alleles, Variant methylation observed in K562 cells correlates with multiple bcr-abl loci and an intact chromosome 9. Patients that were methylation-positive in restriction analysis showed sporadic and heterogenous occurrence of methylcytosines in bisulfite modification assays, Corresponding results were obtained using a quantitative Southern analysis of the extent of methylation, We conclude that restriction analysis combined with PCR is able to find rare cases of hypermethylation, e.g., for diagnostic purposes, but does not reflect the dominating level of methylation in Ph-positive cells. (C) 2000 Academic Press.