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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Apr-Jun;1809(4-6):221-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2011.04.003. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Induced malignant genome reprogramming in somatic cells by testis-specific factors.

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INSERM, U823, Université Joseph Fourier - Grenoble 1, Institut Albert Bonniot, Grenoble, F-38706, France.


Germline cell differentiation is controlled by a specific set of genes whose expression is tightly locked into the repressed state in somatic cells. Large-scale epigenome alterations, now evidenced in nearly all cancers, lead to aberrant activation of these normally silenced genes, as attested by the many reports describing the expression of testis-specific factors, known as cancer-testis genes, in various cancer cells. Here, based on the literature, we argue that off-context activity of some of the testis-specific epigenome regulators can reprogram the somatic cell epigenome toward a malignant state by favoring self-renewal and sustaining cell proliferation under stressful conditions, thereby constituting a major oncogenic mechanism.

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