Identification of subtypes of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma based on DNA methylation profiles and integration of transcriptome and genome data

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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Esophageal adenocarcinomas (EACs) are heterogeneous and often preceded by Barrett's esophagus (BE). Many genomic changes have been associated with development of BE and EAC, but little is known about epigenetic alterations. We performed epigenetic analyses of BE and EAC tissues and combined these data with transcriptome and genomic data to identify mechanisms that control gene expression and genome integrity. METHODS: In a retrospective cohort study, we collected tissue samples and clinical data from 150 BE and 285 EAC cases from the Oesophageal Cancer Classification and Molecular Stratification consortium in the United Kingdom. We analyzed methylation profiles of all BE and EAC tissues and assigned them to subgroups using non-negative matrix factorization with k-means clustering. Data from whole-genome sequencing and transcriptome studies were then incorporated; we performed integrative methylation and RNA-sequencing analyses to identify genes that were suppressed with increased methylation in promoter regions. Levels of different immune cell types were computed using single-sample gene set enrichment methods. We derived 8 organoids from 8 EAC tissues and tested their sensitivity to different drugs. RESULTS: BE and EAC samples shared genome-wide methylation features, compared with normal tissues (esophageal, gastric, and duodenum; controls) from the same patients and grouped into 4 subtypes. Subtype 1 was characterized by DNA hypermethylation with a high mutation burden and multiple mutations in genes in cell cycle and receptor tyrosine signaling pathways. Subtype 2 was characterized by a gene expression pattern associated with metabolic processes (ATP synthesis and fatty acid oxidation) and lack methylation at specific binding sites for transcription factors; 83% of samples of this subtype were BE and 17% were EAC. The third subtype did not have changes in methylation pattern, compared with control tissue, but had a gene expression pattern that indicated immune cell infiltration; this tumor type was associated with the shortest time of patient survival. The fourth subtype was characterized by DNA hypomethylation associated with structure rearrangements, copy number alterations, with preferential amplification of CCNE1 (cells with this gene amplification have been reported to be sensitive to CDK2 inhibitors). Organoids with reduced levels of MGMT and CHFR expression were sensitive to temozolomide and taxane drugs. CONCLUSIONS: In a comprehensive integrated analysis of methylation, transcriptome, and genome profiles of more than 400 BE and EAC tissues, along with clinical data, we identified 4 subtypes that were associated with patient outcomes and potential responses to therapy.

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Volume 158
Issue number 6
Pages 1682-1697.e1
Available online
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