The MTHFR 1298A>C polymorphism and genomic DNA methylation in human lymphocytes.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Apr; 14(4):938-43.CE
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) balances the pool of folate coenzymes in one-carbon metabolism for DNA synthesis and methylation, both implicated in carcinogenesis. Epidemiologic studies have shown that two functional polymorphisms in MTHFR gene, 677C>T and 1298A>C, are related to increased cancer risk. We aimed to analyze lymphocyte DNA from 198 subjects to evaluate the MTHFR 1298A>C polymorphism and folate status affecting genomic DNA methylation as a possible mechanism underlying the relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms and cancer susceptibility. Carriers of the 1298AA wild-type genotype showed lower genomic DNA methylation compared with 1298AC or 1298CC genotypes [3.72 versus 8.59 or 6.79 ng 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine (5-mCyt)/microg DNA, P < 0.0001 and P = 0.007, respectively]. When DNA methylation was evaluated according to plasma folate status, only 1298AA with low folate levels revealed diminished DNA methylation (P < 0.0001). Moreover, when the two MTHFR polymorphisms were concomitantly evaluated at the low folate status, DNA methylation was reduced only in 1298AA/677TT compared with 1298AA/677CC (3.11 versus 7.29 ng 5-mCyt/microg DNA, P = 0.001) and 1298CC/677CC genotypes (3.11 versus 7.14 ng 5-mCyt/microg DNA, P = 0.004). However, the high prevalence of 677TT mutants within the 1298AA group (79%) and the similar biochemical features of 1298AA/677CC and 1298CC/677CC combined genotypes suggest that the gene-nutrient interaction affecting DNA methylation in 1298AA is mainly due to the coexistence of the 677TT genotype and that the 1298A>C polymorphism may convey its protective effect not through this interaction but through another pathway in one-carbon metabolism. Further mechanistic studies are warranted to investigate how single polymorphisms as well as MTHFR combined genotypes exert their effect on cancer susceptibility.