Chromatin-remodelling mechanisms in cancer

Mutat Res. Mar-Apr 2008;658(3):191-214. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2008.01.008. Epub 2008 Feb 17.


Chromatin-remodelling mechanisms include DNA methylation, histone-tail acetylation, poly-ADP-ribosylation, and ATP-dependent chromatin-remodelling processes. Some epigenetic modifications among others have been observed in cancer cells, namely (1) local DNA hypermethylation and global hypomethylation, (2) alteration in histone acetylation/deacetylation balance, (3) increased or decreased poly-ADP-ribosylation, and (4) failures in ATP-dependent chromatin-remodelling mechanisms. Moreover, these alterations can influence the response to classical anti-tumour treatments. Drugs targeting epigenetic alterations are under development. Currently, DNA methylation and histone deacetylase inhibitors are in use in cancer therapy, and poly-ADP-ribosylation inhibitors are undergoing clinical trials. Epigenetic therapy is gaining in importance in pharmacology as a new tool to improve anti-cancer therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / drug effects
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / physiology*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Histones
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases