Role of polycomb group proteins in stem cell self-renewal and cancer.

Molecular Oncology Laboratory, Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, London, United Kingdom.
DNA and Cell Biology (Impact Factor: 1.99). 03/2005; 24(2):117-25. DOI: 10.1089/dna.2005.24.117
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Polycomb group proteins (PcG) form part of a gene regulatory mechanism that determines cell fate during normal and pathogenic development. The mechanism relies on epigenetic modifications on specific histone tails that are inherited through cell divisions, thus behaving de facto as a cellular memory. This cellular memory governs key events in organismal development as well as contributing to the control of normal cell growth and differentiation. Consequently, the dysregulation of PcG genes, such as Bmi1, Pc2, Cbx7, and EZH2 has been linked with the aberrant proliferation of cancer cells. Furthermore, at least three PcG genes, Bmi1, Rae28, and Mel18, appear to regulate self-renewal of specific stem cell types suggesting a link between the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and tumorigenesis. In this review, we will briefly summarize current views on PcG function and the evidence linking specific PcG proteins with the behavior of stem cells and cancer cells.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Stem cells and cancer are inextricably linked; the process of carcinogenesis initially affects normal stem cells or their closely related progenitors and then, at some point, neoplastic stem cells are generated that propagate and ultimately maintain the process. Many, if not all, cancers contain a minority population of self-renewing stem cells, "cancer stem cells", that are entirely responsible for sustaining the tumour and for giving rise to proliferating but progressively differentiating cells that contribute to the cellular heterogeneity typical of many solid tumours. Thus, the bulk of the tumour is often not the clinical problem, and so the identification of cancer stem cells and the factors that regulate their behaviour are likely to have an enormous bearing on the way that we treat neoplastic disease in the future. This review summarises (1) our knowledge of the origins of some cancers from normal stem cells and (2) the evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells; it also illustrates some of the stem cell renewal pathways that are frequently aberrant in cancer and that may represent druggable targets.
    Cell and Tissue Research 02/2008; 331(1):109-24. DOI:10.1007/s00441-007-0510-7 · 3.33 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cell type-specific gene expression patterns are maintained by the stable inheritance of transcriptional states through mitosis, requiring the action of multiprotein complexes that remodel chromatin structure. Genetic and molecular interactions between chromatin remodeling factors and components of the DNA replication machinery have been identified in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, indicating that some epigenetic marks are replicated simultaneously to DNA with the participation of the DNA replication complexes. This model of epigenetic inheritance might be extended to the plant kingdom, as we report here with the positional cloning and characterization of INCURVATA2 (ICU2), which encodes the putative catalytic subunit of the DNA polymerase alpha of Arabidopsis thaliana. The strong icu2-2 and icu2-3 insertional alleles caused fully penetrant zygotic lethality when homozygous and incompletely penetrant gametophytic lethality, probably because of loss of DNA polymerase activity. The weak icu2-1 allele carried a point mutation and caused early flowering, leaf incurvature, and homeotic transformations of sepals into carpels and of petals into stamens. Further genetic analyses indicated that ICU2 interacts with TERMINAL FLOWER2, the ortholog of HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN1 of animals and yeasts, and with the Polycomb group (PcG) gene CURLY LEAF. Another PcG gene, EMBRYONIC FLOWER2, was found to be epistatic to ICU2. Quantitative RT-PCR analyses indicated that a number of regulatory genes were derepressed in the icu2-1 mutant, including genes associated with flowering time, floral meristem, and floral organ identity.
    The Plant Cell 10/2007; 19(9):2822-38. DOI:10.1105/tpc.107.054130 · 9.58 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Sirtuins (SIRTs 1-7), or class III histone deacetylases (HDACs), are protein deacetylases/ADP ribosyltransferases that target a wide range of cellular proteins in the nucleus, cytoplasm, and mitochondria for post-translational modification by acetylation (SIRT1, -2, -3 and -5) or ADP ribosylation (SIRT4 and -6). The orthologs of sirtuins in lower organisms play a critical role in regulating lifespan. As cancer is a disease of aging, we discuss the growing implications of the sirtuins in protecting against cancer development. Sirtuins regulate the cellular responses to stress and ensure that damaged DNA is not propagated and that mutations do not accumulate. SIRT1 also promotes replicative senescence under conditions of chronic stress. By participating in the stress response to genomic insults, sirtuins are thought to protect against cancer, but they are also emerging as direct participants in the growth of some cancers. Here, we review the growing implications of sirtuins both in cancer prevention and as specific and novel cancer therapeutic targets.
    Oncogene 09/2007; 26(37):5489-504. DOI:10.1038/sj.onc.1210616 · 8.56 Impact Factor