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Cancer Res. 2005 Dec 15;65(24):11236-40.

Loss of imprinting of IGF2: a common epigenetic modifier of intestinal tumor risk.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Epigenetic alterations in cancer occur at least as commonly as genetic mutations, but epigenetic alterations could occur secondarily to the tumor process itself. To establish a causal role of epigenetic changes, investigators have turned to genetically engineered mouse models. Here, we review a recent study showing that a mouse model of loss of imprinting (LOI) of the insulin-like growth factor II gene (Igf2), which shows aberrant activation of the normally silent maternal allele, modifies the risk of intestinal neoplasia caused by mutations of the adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) gene. This increased risk corresponds to the apparent increased risk of colorectal cancer in patients with LOI of IGF2. The model suggests that preexisting epigenetic alterations in normal cells increase tumor risk by expanding the target cell population and/or modulating the effect of subsequent genetic alterations on these cells, providing a novel idea for cancer risk management.

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