Alterations of Epigenetic Regulators in Pancreatic Cancer and Their Clinical Implications

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Dec 19;17(12):2138. doi: 10.3390/ijms17122138.


Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive human cancer types with a five-year survival less than 7%. Emerging evidence revealed that many genetic alterations in pancreatic cancer target epigenetic regulators. Some of these mutations are driver mutations in cancer development. Several most important mechanisms of epigenetic regulations include DNA methylation, histone modifications (methylation, acetylation, and ubiquitination), chromatin remodeling, and non-coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs). These modifications can alter chromatin structure and promoter accessibility, and thus lead to aberrant gene expression. However, exactly how these alterations affect epigenetic reprogramming in pancreatic cancer cells and in different stages of tumor development is still not clear. This mini-review summarizes the current knowledge of epigenetic alterations in pancreatic cancer development and progression, and discusses the clinical applications of epigenetic regulators as diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: clinical implication; epigenetic regulators; genetic alterations; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase