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Biochem Cell Biol. 2006 Aug;84(4):463-76.

Epigenetic tête-à-tête: the bilateral relationship between chromatin modifications and DNA methylation.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montreal, QC H3G 1Y6, Canada.


The epigenome, which comprises chromatin, associated proteins, and the pattern of covalent modification of DNA by methylation, sets up and maintains gene expression programs. It was originally believed that DNA methylation was the dominant reaction in determining the chromatin structure. However, emerging data suggest that chromatin can affect DNA methylation in both directions, triggering either de novo DNA methylation or demethylation. These events are particularly important for the understanding of cellular transformation, which requires a coordinated change in gene expression profiles. While genetic alterations can explain some of the changes, the important role of epigenetic reprogramming is becoming more and more evident. Cancer cells exhibit a paradoxical coexistence of global loss of DNA methylation with regional hypermethylation.

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