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Cancer Cell. 2004 Oct;6(4):361-71.

Distinct effects on gene expression of chemical and genetic manipulation of the cancer epigenome revealed by a multimodality approach.

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  • 1Radiation Oncology Branch, Radiation Oncology Sciences Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We tested the hypothesis that the effects on gene expression of altered DNA methylation by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-CdR) and genetic (DNMT knockout) manipulation of DNA are similar, and distinct from Trichostatin A (TSA)-induced chromatin decondensation. Surprisingly, the effects of 5-aza-CdR were more similar to those of TSA than to DNMT1, DNMT3B, or double DNMT somatic cell knockout. Furthermore, the effects of 5-aza-CdR were similar at one and five days exposure, suggesting active demethylation or direct influence of both drugs on the stability of methylation and/or chromatin marks. Agents that induce gene activation through hypomethylation may have unintended consequences, since nearly as many genes were downregulated as upregulated after demethylation. In addition, a 75 kb cluster of metallothionein genes was coordinately regulated.

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