Epigenetic Biomarkers

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, 10065, USA, .
Current topics in microbiology and immunology (Impact Factor: 4.1). 08/2011; 355. DOI: 10.1007/82_2011_165
Source: PubMed


Profound changes in the epigenetic landscape of cancer cells underlie the development of human malignancies. These changes include large-scale DNA methylation changes throughout the genome as well as alterations in the compendium of post-translational chromatin modifications. Epigenetic aberrations impact multiple steps during tumorigenesis, ultimately promoting the selection of neoplastic cells with increasing pathogenicity. Identification of these alterations for use as predictive and prognostic biomarkers has been a highly sought after goal. Recent advances in the field have not only greatly expanded our knowledge of the epigenetic changes driving neoplasia but also demonstrated their significant clinical utility as cancer biomarkers. These biomarkers have proved to be useful for identifying patients whose malignancies are sensitive to specific cytotoxic chemotherapies and may hold promise for predicting which patients will benefit from newer targeted agents directed at oncogenes. The recent application of global analysis strategies has further accelerated our understanding of the epigenome and promises to enhance the identification of epigenomic programs underlying cancer progression and treatment response.

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    • "Cancer phenotypes have a complex and heterogeneous character, which cannot be explained by genetic defects alone [108]. Several groups have shown the crucial role of epigenetic modifications in the manifestation of various cancer types [109] [110] [111] [112]. Epigenetic modifications are defined as heritable changes in the expression and regulation of gene expression without altering the DNA sequencing [113]. "
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