Genome Res 2015 Apr 2;25(4):478-87. Epub 2015 Feb 2.
Unidad de Hematopatología, Servicio de Anatomía Patológica, Hospital Clínic, Universitat de Barcelona, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), 08036 Barcelona, Spain;
While analyzing the DNA methylome of multiple myeloma (MM), a plasma cell neoplasm, by whole-genome bisulfite sequencing and high-density arrays, we observed a highly heterogeneous pattern globally characterized by regional DNA hypermethylation embedded in extensive hypomethylation. In contrast to the widely reported DNA hypermethylation of promoter-associated CpG islands (CGIs) in cancer, hypermethylated sites in MM, as opposed to normal plasma cells, were located outside CpG islands and were unexpectedly associated with intronic enhancer regions defined in normal B cells and plasma cells. Both RNA-seq and in vitro reporter assays indicated that enhancer hypermethylation is globally associated with down-regulation of its host genes. ChIP-seq and DNase-seq further revealed that DNA hypermethylation in these regions is related to enhancer decommissioning. Hypermethylated enhancer regions overlapped with binding sites of B cell-specific transcription factors (TFs) and the degree of enhancer methylation inversely correlated with expression levels of these TFs in MM. Furthermore, hypermethylated regions in MM were methylated in stem cells and gradually became demethylated during normal B-cell differentiation, suggesting that MM cells either reacquire epigenetic features of undifferentiated cells or maintain an epigenetic signature of a putative myeloma stem cell progenitor. Overall, we have identified DNA hypermethylation of developmentally regulated enhancers as a new type of epigenetic modification associated with the pathogenesis of MM.