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Future Oncol. 2011 Jan;7(1):57-75. doi: 10.2217/fon.10.157.

Epigenetic factors in cancer development: polycomb group proteins.

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Department of Experimental Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, IFOM-IEO Campus, Via Adamello 16, Milan, Italy.


The role of chromatin-modifying factors in cancer biology emerged exponentially in the last 10 years, and increased attention has been focused on Polycomb group (PcG) proteins and their enzymatic activities. PcG proteins are repressive chromatin modifiers required for proliferation and development. The frequent deregulation of PcG activities in human tumors has direct oncogenic effects and results, essential for cancer cell proliferation. Here we will review the recent findings regarding PcG proteins in prospective tumor development, focusing on the molecular mechanisms that deregulate PcG expression in different tumors, at the downstream pathways to PcG expression (that contribute to cancer development) and at the mechanisms that regulate PcG recruitment to specific targets. Finally, we will speculate on the benefit of PcG inhibition for cancer treatment, reviewing potential pharmacological strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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