Differential Orthopedia Homeobox expression in pulmonary carcinoids is associated with changes in DNA methylation

L. Moonen, L. Mangiante, D.J.G. Leunissen, L.M.V. Lap, A. Gabriel, L.M. Hillen, G.M. Roemen, A. Koch, M. Van Engeland, A.M.C. Dingemans, M. Foll, N. Alcala, L. Fernandez-Cuesta, J.L. Derks, E.J.M. Speel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Limited number of tumor types have been examined for Orthopedia Homeobox (OTP) expression. In pulmonary carcinoids, loss of expression is a strong indicator of poor prognosis. Here, we investigated OTP expression in 37 different tumor types, and the association between OTP expression and DNA methylation levels in lung neuroendocrine neoplasms. We analyzed publicly available multi-omics data (whole-exome-, whole-genome-, RNA sequencing and Epic 850K-methylation array) of 58 typical carcinoids, 27 atypical carcinoids, 69 large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma and 51 small cell lung cancer patients and TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) data of 33 tumor types. 850K-methylation analysis was cross-validated using targeted pyrosequencing on 35 carcinoids. We report bimodality of OTP expression in carcinoids (OTPhigh vs OTPlow group, likelihood-ratio test P = 1.5 x 10(-2)), with the OTPhigh group specific to pulmonary carcinoids while absent from all other cohorts analyzed. Significantly different DNA methylation levels were observed between OTPhigh and OTPlow carcinoids in 12/34 OTP infinium probes (FDR < 0.05 and beta-value effect size > .2). OTPlow carcinoids harbor high DNA methylation levels as compared to OTPhigh carcinoids. OTPlow carcinoids showed a significantly worse overall survival (log-rank test P = .0052). Gene set enrichment analysis for somatically mutated genes associated with hallmarks of cancer showed robust enrichment of three hallmarks in the OTPlow group, that is, sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressor and genome instability and mutation. Together our data suggest that high OTP expression is a unique feature of pulmonary carcinoids with a favorable prognosis and that in poor prognostic patients, OTP expression is lost, most likely due to changes in DNA methylation levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1987-1997
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
Early online date16 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • epigenetics
  • methylation
  • neuroendocrine
  • Orthopedia Homeobox
  • pulmonary carcinoid
  • OTP
  • CD44
  • MEN1

Cite this