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Methylation, gene expression and the chromatin connection in cancer (review)

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The mechanisms by which cells regulate gene expression are often altered in tumors. Modulating aspects of the components responsible for the nuclear packaging of DNA is one means by which the cell can control transcription, either by packaging the DNA such that access to specific sites of transcription is blocked or by modifying the DNA itself to prevent transcription factor binding. One such DNA modification is the methylation of cytosines. In addition, histone acetylation status has been linked recently through a large number of studies to the regulation of gene expression. Expressed genes are located in highly acetylated chromatin. The acetylation status of nucleosomes (the basic packaging unit of chromatin), is regulated by a group of enzymes, histone acetyltransferases (HATs), and histone deacetylases (HDACs). These two elements, methylation and histone acetylation have also been linked together, whereby methylation is used to direct gene repression through a histone deacetylase complex. Methylation, HATs, and HDACs have been shown to be altered in tumors. We present an overview of the current knowledge surrounding these elements in cancer, and in the final sections describe the likelihood of alterations of the histone modifying apparatus in hepatocellular carcinoma.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory for Molecular Development and Tumor Biology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Hospital, S-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.

Publication date: October 1, 1999

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Molecular Medicine is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the publication of high quality studies related to the molecular mechanisms of human disease. The journal welcomes research on all aspects of molecular and clinical research, ranging from biochemistry to immunology, pathology, genetics, human genomics, microbiology, molecular pathogenesis, molecular cardiology, molecular surgery and molecular psychology.

    The International Journal of Molecular Medicine aims to provide an insight for researchers within the community in regard to developing molecular tools and identifying molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of a diverse number of human diseases.
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