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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Aug;109(2):598-605. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00066.2010. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

Epigenetics and cancer.

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Dept. of Urology, Case Western Reserve Univ., Univ. Hospitals Case Medical Center, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Epigenetic modifications are central to many human diseases, including cancer. Traditionally, cancer has been viewed as a genetic disease, and it is now becoming apparent that the onset of cancer is preceded by epigenetic abnormalities. Investigators in the rapidly expanding field of epigenetics have documented extensive genomic reprogramming in cancer cells, including methylation of DNA, chemical modification of the histone proteins, and RNA-dependent regulation. Recognizing that carcinogenesis involves both genetic and epigenetic alterations has led to a better understanding of the molecular pathways that govern the development of cancer and to improvements in diagnosing and predicting the outcome of various types of cancer. Studies of the mechanism(s) of epigenetic regulation and its reversibility have resulted in the identification of novel targets that may be useful in developing new strategies for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

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