Author(s): Esteller M
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Abstract Cancer is also an epigenetic disease. The main epigenetic modification in humans is DNA methylation. Transformed cells undergo a dramatic change in their DNA methylation patterns: certain CpG islands located in the promoter regions of tumor-suppressor genes become hypermethylated and the contiguous gene rests silenced and this phenomenon occurs in an overall genomic environment of DNA hypomethylation. The profile of CpG island hypermethylation in hematologic malignancies is an epigenetic signature unique for each subtype of leukemia or lymphoma. Although the most widely studied genes are the cell-cycle inhibitors p15INK4b and p16INK4a (specially in AML and ALL), the list of methylation-repressed genes in these neoplasms is expanding very rapidly, including MGMT, RARB2, CRBP1, SOCS-1, CDH1, DAPK1, and others. A necessary cross-talk between genetic alterations and DNA methylation exists: certain chromosomal translocations may induce hypermethylation, such as the PML-RARa, or attract methylation, such as BCR-ABL, but DNA hypomethylation can be the culprit behind the genesis of certain abnormal recombination events. From a translational standpoint, hypermethylation can be used as a marker of recurrent disease or progression, for example, in MDS, or response to chemotherapy, such as MGMT methylation in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Furthermore, promising studies using DNA demethylating agents and histone deacetylase inhibitors are underway to awake these dormant tumor-suppressor genes for a better treatment of the patient with a hematologic malignancy.
This article was published in Clin Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis