Poised epigenetic states and acquired drug resistance in cancer

Nat Rev Cancer. 2014 Nov;14(11):747-53. doi: 10.1038/nrc3819. Epub 2014 Sep 25.


Epigenetic events, which are somatically inherited through cell division, are potential drivers of acquired drug resistance in cancer. The high rate of epigenetic change in tumours generates diversity in gene expression patterns that can rapidly evolve through drug selection during treatment, leading to the development of acquired resistance. This will potentially confound stratified chemotherapy decisions that are solely based on mutation biomarkers. Poised epigenetic states in tumour cells may drive multistep epigenetic fixation of gene expression during the acquisition of drug resistance, which has implications for clinical strategies to prevent the emergence of drug resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism