Detection and manipulation of methylation in blood cancer DNA using terahertz radiation

Hwayeong Cheon, Jin Ho Paik, Moran Choi, Hee Jin Yang, Joo Hiuk Son

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DNA methylation is a pivotal epigenetic modification of DNA that regulates gene expression. Abnormal regulation of gene expression is closely related to carcinogenesis, which is why the assessment of DNA methylation is a key factor in cancer research. Terahertz radiation may play an important role in active demethylation for cancer therapy because the characteristic frequency of the methylated DNA exists in the terahertz region. Here, we present a novel technique for the detection and manipulation of DNA methylation using terahertz radiation in blood cancer cell lines. We observed the degree of DNA methylation in blood cancer at the characteristic resonance of approximately 1.7 THz using terahertz time-domain spectroscopy. The terahertz results were cross-checked with global DNA methylation quantification using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We also achieved the demethylation of cancer DNA using high-power terahertz radiation at the 1.7-THz resonance. The demethylation degrees ranged from 10% to 70%, depending on the type of cancer cell line. Our results show the detection of DNA methylation based on the terahertz molecular resonance and the manipulation of global DNA methylation using high-power terahertz radiation. Terahertz radiation may have potential applications as an epigenetic inhibitor in cancer treatment, by virtue of its ability to induce DNA demethylation, similarly to decitabine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6413
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


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