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Highly sensitive detection of DNA hypermethylation in melanoma cancer cells

TitleHighly sensitive detection of DNA hypermethylation in melanoma cancer cells
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsNesvet J, Rizzi G, Wang SX
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Pagination136 - 142
KeywordsArray, Cancer, DNA melting, GMR sensors, Methylation specific PCR, PCR

Aberrant hypermethylation of CpG islands in the promoter region of tumor suppressor genes is a promising biomarker for early cancer detection. This methylation status is reflected in the methylation pattern of ctDNA shed from the primary tumor; however, to realize the full clinical utility of ctDNA methylation detection via liquid biopsy for early cancer diagnosis, improvements in the sensitivity and multiplexability of existing technologies must be improved. Additionally, the assay must be cheap and easy to perform in a clinical setting. We report the integration of methylation specific PCR (MSP) to melt curve analysis on giant magnetoresistive (GMR) biosensors to greatly enhance the sensitivity of our DNA hybridization assay for methylation detection. Our GMR sensor is functionalized with synthetic DNA probes that target methylated or unmethylated CpG sites in the MSP amplicon, and measures the difference in melting temperature (Tm) between the two probes (ΔTm), giving an analytical limit of detection down to 0.1% methylated DNA in solution. Additionally, linear regression of ΔTm's for serial dilutions of methylated:unmethylated mixtures allows for quantification of methylation percentage, which could have diagnostic and prognostic utility. Lastly, we performed multiplexed MSP on two different genes, and show the ability of our GMR assay to resolve this mixture, despite their amplicons’ overlapping Tm's in standard EvaGreen melt analysis. The multiplexing ability of our assay and its enhanced sensitivity, without necessitating deep sequencing, represent important steps toward realizing an assay for the detection of methylated ctDNA in plasma for early cancer detection in a clinical setting.