Oncotarget. 2020 Nov 3;11(44):3904-3920. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.27655. eCollection 2020 Nov 3.
IGF2 is essential in breast differentiation, lactation, tumor growth, and in breast cancer (BC) development and progression. This growth factor also inhibits apoptosis and promotes metastasis and chemoresistance, contributing to more aggressive tumors. We previously demonstrated that IGF2 protein levels are higher in BC tissues from African American women than in Caucasian women. We also showed that high IGF2 protein levels are expressed in normal breast tissues of African American women while little or no IGF2 was detected in tissues from Caucasian women. Others showed that decreased DNA methylation of the IGF2 gene leads to different BC clinical features. Thus, we designed this study to determine if differentially methylated regions of the IGF2 gene correspond to IGF2 protein expression in paired (Normal/Tumor) breast tissues and in BC cell lines. Methylation analysis was performed using Sodium Bisulphite Analysis and Methylation Sensitive Restriction Enzyme digestion methods. Our results show that a unique site in the INS-IGF2 region is hypermethylated in normal breast and hypomethylated in breast cancer. We designated this region the DVDMR. Furthermore, the methylation levels in the DVDMR significantly correlated with IGF2 protein levels. This novel DMR consists of 257bp localized in the INS-IGF2 gene. We propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer. Since IGF2 promotes metastasis and chemoresistance, we propose that IGF2 levels contribute to BC aggressiveness. Validation of IGF2 as a biomarker will improve diagnosis and treatment of BC patients.