Epigenetic aberrations during oncogenesis

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2011 May;68(10):1681-702. doi: 10.1007/s00018-010-0624-z. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


The aberrant epigenetic landscape of a cancer cell is characterized by global genomic hypomethylation, CpG island promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes, and changes in histone modification patterns, as well as altered expression profiles of chromatin-modifying enzymes. Recent advances in the field of epigenetics have revealed that microRNAs' expression is also under epigenetic regulation and that certain microRNAs control elements of the epigenetic machinery. The reversibility of epigenetic marks catalyzed the development of epigenetic-altering drugs. However, a better understanding of the intertwined relationship between genetics, epigenetics and microRNAs is necessary in order to resolve how gene expression aberrations that contribute to tumorigenesis can be therapeutically corrected.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / physiology
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • Histones
  • MicroRNAs
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases