Epigenetic regulation in eukaryotic and mammalian systems is a complex and emerging field of study. While histone modifications create an open chromatin conformation allowing for gene transcription, CpG methylation adds a further dimension to the expression of specific genes in developmental pathways and carcinogenesis. In this review, we will highlight DNA methylation as one of the distinct mechanisms for gene silencing and try to provide insight into the role of epigenetics in cancer progenitor cell formation and carcinogenesis. We will also introduce the concept of a dynamic methylation-demethylation system and the potential for the existence of a demethylating enzyme in this process. Finally, we will explain how re-expression of epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor genes could be exploited to develop effective drug therapies. In particular, we will consider how a combination therapy that includes epigenetic drugs could possibly kill cancer progenitor cells and reduce the chance of relapse following chemotherapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gastric cancer is one of the most common malignancies and remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Over 70% of new cases and deaths occur in developing countries. In the early years of the molecular biology revolution, cancer research mainly focuses on genetic alterations, including gastric cancer. Epigenetic mechanisms are essential for normal development and maintenance of tissue-specific gene expression patterns in mammals. Disruption of epigenetic processes can lead to altered gene function and malignant cellular transformation. Recent advancements in the rapidly evolving field of cancer epigenetics have shown extensive reprogramming of every component of the epigenetic machinery in cancer, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, nucleosome positioning, noncoding RNAs, and microRNAs. Aberrant DNA methylation in the promoter regions of gene, which leads to inactivation of tumor suppressor and other cancer-related genes in cancer cells, is the most well-defined epigenetic hallmark in gastric cancer. The advantages of gene methylation as a target for detection and diagnosis of cancer in biopsy specimens and non-invasive body fluids such as serum and gastric washes has led to many studies of application in gastric cancer. This review focuses on the most common and important phenomenon of epigenetics, DNA methylation, in gastric cancer and illustrates the impact epigenetics has had on this field.
Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry 05/2013; 424. DOI:10.1016/j.cca.2013.05.002 · 2.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Carcinogenesis involves uncontrolled cell growth, which follows the activation of oncogenes and/or the deactivation of tumor suppression genes. Metastasis requires down-regulation of cell adhesion receptors necessary for tissue-specific, cell-cell attachment, as well as up-regulation of receptors that enhance cell motility. Epigenetic changes, including histone modifications, DNA methylation, and DNA hydroxymethylation, can modify these characteristics. Targets for these epigenetic changes include signaling pathways that regulate apoptosis and autophagy, as well as microRNA. We propose that predisposed normal cells convert to cancer progenitor cells that, after growing, undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition. This process, which is partially under epigenetic control, can create a metastatic form of both progenitor and full-fledged cancer cells, after which metastasis to a distant location may occur. Identification of epigenetic regulatory mechanisms has provided potential therapeutic avenues. In particular, epigenetic drugs appear to potentiate the action of traditional therapeutics, often by demethylating and re-expressing tumor suppressor genes to inhibit tumorigenesis. Epigenetic drugs may inhibit both the formation and growth of cancer progenitor cells, thus reducing the recurrence of cancer. Adopting epigenetic alteration as a new hallmark of cancer is a logical and necessary step that will further encourage the development of novel epigenetic biomarkers and therapeutics.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences 10/2013; 14(10):21087-113. DOI:10.3390/ijms141021087 · 2.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic changes such as DNA methylation and histone methylation and acetylation alter gene expression at the level of transcription by upregulating, downregulating, or silencing genes completely. Dysregulation of epigenetic events can be pathological, leading to cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, metabolic disorders, and cancer development. Therefore, identifying drugs that inhibit these epigenetic changes are of great clinical interest. In this review, we summarize the epigenetic events associated with different disorders and diseases including cardiovascular, neurological, and metabolic disorders, and cancer. Knowledge of the specific epigenetic changes associated with these types of diseases facilitates the development of specific inhibitors, which can be used as epigenetic drugs. In this review, we discuss the major classes of epigenetic drugs currently in use, such as DNA methylation inhibiting drugs, bromodomain inhibitors, histone acetyl transferase inhibitors, histone deacetylase inhibitors, protein methyltransferase inhibitors, and histone methylation inhibitors and their role in reversing epigenetic changes and treating disease.
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