Analysis of methylation patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells as a prostate cancer biomarker
Dr. Teresa Pais-Johnson
The research project will be focused on the analysis of methylation patterns of CpG loci covering over 14,000 genes in DNA isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from prostate cancer patients and healthy subjects to aid in the development of cancer biomarkers. Cancer biomarkers are found in the genetic code, plasma, bodily fluids, and serum. Cancer biomarkers can help determine cancer predisposition, and assist in the early detection of cancer. Currently, only some cancer biomarkers exist for which patients are screened. One common cancer biomarker is PSA, or prostate specific antigen. This biomarker aids in the diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer. This biomarker is present in the body under normal conditions, and can fluctuate due to other factors, such as prostatitis making it less specific than necessary to be used for diagnosis accurately. Aberrant methylation of cytosine residues is known to play a role in the development of cancer. We hypothesize that aberrant methylation patterns in DNA isolated from PBMCs can be used as a signature that will be useful in the diagnosis and/or prognosis of prostate cancer. To test this hypothesis, we will isolate DNA from the PBMCs and use this DNA to perform Illumina’s whole genome methylation analysis to detect methylation differences between the DNAs of the cancer patients and healthy controls. Since methylation plays a critical role in gene expression, we will also correlate the methylation patterns with the gene expression profiles obtained from RNA isolated from the same subjects. It is anticipated that methylation of specific sites in the genome will be identified that affect the expression of specific genes that play a role in the development or progression of prostate cancer. The identification of novel genomic biomarkers that will be clinically useful in the diagnosis or prognosis of prostate cancer is the primary goal of this research.
Brian Krumm, Xiangzhi Meng, Yongchao Li and Junpeng Deng