Determining If Differentiated Methylation of the Genes TERT and HCK is Associated with Liver Cancer

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Abstract Summary

Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) is classified as a persistent organic pollutant that is a breakdown product of DDT. DDE is a highly fat-soluble compound that accumulates in the fatty tissues of insects, wildlife, and humans, particularly in adipose and brain tissues. In previous studies the genes TERT and HCK were found to be differentially methylated in serum of individuals with high levels DDE (≥305.9 ng/g-lipid). The goal of this study is to determine if differentiated methylation of the genes TERT and HCK is associated with liver cancer. From the Cancer Genome Atlas we downloaded SNP genotyping and gene expression data for normal and cancerous liver tissue. Methylation and gene expression profiles in cases and controls were then compared using paired two sample t tests, conducted in R studio. Results from this analysis showed that SNPs within the promoter region of the genes HCK and TERT were significantly differentially methylated (p= 0.002, difference in methylation = -0.30) and (p=0.003, difference in methylation = - 0.11), respectively. However, these differences in DNA methylation were not correlated with statistical differences in gene expression (HCK p-value=0.96 and TERT p-value=0.35).

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