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Semin Cancer Biol. 2012 Oct;22(5-6):404-10. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2012.06.007. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Linking epithelial-to-mesenchymal-transition and epigenetic modifications.

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Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics, University Hospital Leipzig, Liebigstraße 27, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


Cancer, as well as other human disorders, has long been considered to result from the consequence of genetic mutations in key regulatory genes that reside in pathways controlling proliferation, cellular differentiation, DNA damage and repair. In the case of cancer, mutations are well documented to arise in key oncogenes and critically important tumor-suppressor genes as part of the disease progression process. In addition to more accepted, genetic mutations, a rapidly increasing body of evidence supports the general view that profound alterations also occur in 'epigenes', whose products serve to define the 'epigenetic landscape' of tumor cells. Aberrant changes in epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and expression of micro RNAs play an important role in cancer and contribute to malignant transitions. Here we review recent studies linking epigenetic mechanisms to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition as defined in normal processes, as well as abnormal transitions that lead to oncogensis.

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