Sézary syndrome (Sz) is a malignancy of skin-homing CD4+ memory T cells that is clinically characterized by erythroderma, lymphadenopathy, and blood involvement. Distinction of Sz from erythroderma secondary to inflammatory skin diseases (erythrodermic inflammatory dermatosis [EID]) is often challenging. Recent studies identified recurrent mutations in epigenetic enzymes involved in DNA modification in Sz. Here we defined the DNA methylomes of purified CD4+ T cells from patients with Sz, EID, and healthy control subjects. Sz showed extensive global DNA methylation alterations, with 7.8% of 473,921 interrogated autosomal CpG sites showing hypomethylation and 3.2% hypermethylation. Promoter CpG islands were markedly enriched for hypermethylation. The 126 genes with recurrent promoter hypermethylation in Sz included multiple candidate tumor suppressors that showed transcriptional repression, implicating aberrant methylation in the pathogenesis of Sz. Validation in an independent sample set showed promoter hypermethylation of CMTM2, C2orf40, G0S2, HSPB6, PROM1, and PAM in 94–100% of Sz samples but not in EID samples. Notably, promoter hypermethylation of a single gene, the chemokine-like factor CMTM2, was sufficient to accurately distinguish Sz from EID in all cases. This study shows that Sz is characterized by widespread yet distinct DNA methylation alterations, which can be used clinically as epigenetic diagnostic markers.
van Doorn, R., Slieker, R. C., Boonk, S. E., Zoutman, W. H., Goeman, J. J., Bagot, M., … Vermeer, M. H. (2016). Epigenomic Analysis of Sézary Syndrome Defines Patterns of Aberrant DNA Methylation and Identifies Diagnostic Markers. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 136(9), 1876–1884. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2016.03.042