Article

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.

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