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Epigenomics. 2016 May;8(5):705-19. doi: 10.2217/epi-2015-0017. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

Epigenetic drift, epigenetic clocks and cancer risk.

Author information

1
CAS Key Lab of Computational Biology, CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China.
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19A Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China.
3
Department of Women's Cancer, University College London, 74 Huntley Street, London, WC1E 6AU, UK.
4
Statistical Cancer Genomics, UCL Cancer Institute, University College London, 72 Huntley Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.

Abstract

It is well-established that the DNA methylation landscape of normal cells undergoes a gradual modification with age, termed as 'epigenetic drift'. Here, we review the current state of knowledge of epigenetic drift and its potential role in cancer etiology. We propose a new terminology to help distinguish the different components of epigenetic drift, with the aim of clarifying the role of the epigenetic clock, mitotic clocks and active changes, which accumulate in response to environmental disease risk factors. We further highlight the growing evidence that epigenetic changes associated with cancer risk factors may play an important causal role in cancer development, and that monitoring these molecular changes in normal cells may offer novel risk prediction and disease prevention strategies.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; aging; cancer; cancer risk; epigenetic; epigenetic clock

PMID:
27104983
DOI:
10.2217/epi-2015-0017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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