• Open Access

Expression of IGFBP7 in acute leukemia is regulated by DNA methylation


To whom all correspondence should be addressed.
E-mail: claudia.baldus@charité.de


The important role of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) as a tumor suppressor in solid tumors has been revealed in several studies. Interestingly, in a recent study IGFBP7 was also shown to be aberrantly expressed in acute leukemia. Moreover, in acute T-lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), high IGFBP7 expression predicts primary therapy resistance. In order to elucidate the mechanisms underlying aberrant IGFBP7 expression, we used pyrosequencing technology to investigate the DNA methylation of IGFBP7 in 109 T-ALL patient samples. Aberrant methylation was shown and hypomethylation was associated with an early immunophenotype and co-expression of the stem cell markers CD117 (P < 0.001) and CD34 (P < 0.001). In concordance, gene expression profiles of 86 T-ALL patients revealed upregulation of stem cell markers (CD34 and CD133) as well as genes associated with poor outcome and pathogenesis of leukemia (MN1, BAALC, FLT3) in the high IGFBP7 expression group. In conclusion, aberrant IGFBP7 expression is regulated by DNA methylation in acute leukemia. Hypomethylation of the gene is likely to characterize an immature and a more malignant subtype of the disease. (Cancer Sci 2011; 102: 253–259)