Research ArticleCancer

Breast Cancer Methylomes Establish an Epigenomic Foundation for Metastasis

Science Translational Medicine  23 Mar 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 75, pp. 75ra25
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001875

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Meditating on Breast Cancer

People of diverse faiths and backgrounds have gained new mindsets when contemplating “Om” (or Aum)—a meditation symbol that represents the universe in its entirety. The concept of examining existence from a global perspective has begun to take hold in cancer research as well. Indeed, researchers have created their own “omes”: the genome, the transcriptome, the proteome. Here, Fang et al. examine the methylome of breast cancer and find a signature that may predict metastasis.

The authors used genome-wide analysis to examine methylome signatures in breast cancers with various metastatic behaviors and found a signature that was associated with low metastatic risk and improved rates of survival. This breast CpG island methylator phenotype (B-CIMP) tracked with reduced metastasis independently of other breast cancer markers [such as estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor (ER/PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status] and was shared by multiple human malignancies, including glioma and colon cancer. However, altered methylation status may not just be a marker of metastasis: Methylation of B-CIMP signature genes correlated with transcriptional diversity among breast cancers with different prognoses. Thus, the B-CIMP phenotype may thus play a mechanistic role in metastatic risk, and future meditation on the methylome may improve breast cancer prognosis and therapy.


  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Citation: F. Fang, S. Turcan, A. Rimner, A. Kaufman, D. Giri, L. G. T. Morris, R. Shen, V. Seshan, Q. Mo, A. Heguy, S. B. Baylin, N. Ahuja, A. Viale, J. Massague, L. Norton, L. T. Vahdat, M. E. Moynahan, T. A. Chan, Breast Cancer Methylomes Establish an Epigenomic Foundation for Metastasis. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 75ra25 (2011).