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Cell Res. 2005 Apr;15(4):262-71.

Epigenetic changes in virus-associated human cancers.

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Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chang Gung University, Kwei-shan, Taoyuan, Taiwan.


Epigenetics of human cancer becomes an area of emerging research direction due to a growing understanding of specific epigenetic pathways and rapid development of detection technologies. Aberrant promoter hypermethylation is a prevalent phenonmena in human cancers. Tumor suppressor genes are often hypermethylated due to the increased activity or deregulation of DNMTs. Increasing evidence also reveals that viral genes are one of the key players in regulating DNA methylation. In this review, we will focus on hypermethylation and tumor suppressor gene silencing and the signal pathways that are involved, particularly in cancers closely associated with the hepatitis B virus, simian virus 40 (SV40), and Epstein-Barr virus. In addition, we will discuss current technologies for genome-wide detection of epigenetically regulated targets, which allow for systematic DNA hypermethylation analysis. The study of epigenetic changes should provide a global view of gene profile in cancer, and epigenetic markers could be used for early detection, prognosis, and therapy of cancer.

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