Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is the most common (90%) and aggressive type of pancreatic cancer. Genomic analyses of PDA specimens have identified the recurrent genetic mutations that drive PDA initiation and progression. However, the underlying mechanisms that further drive PDA metastasis remain elusive. Despite many attempts, no recurrent genetic mutation driving PDA metastasis has been found, suggesting that PDA metastasis is driven by epigenetic fluctuations rather than genetic factors. Therefore, establishing epigenetic mechanisms of PDA metastasis would facilitate the development of successful therapeutic interventions. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview on the role of epigenetic mechanisms in PDA as a critical contributor on PDA progression and metastasis. In particular, we explore the recent advancements elucidating the role of nucleosome remodeling, histone modification, and DNA methylation in the process of cancer metastasis.
Keywords: DNA methylation; epigenetics; metastasis; pancreatic cancer.