Multifaceted regulation of enhancers in cancer

Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech. 2022 Aug;1865(6):194839. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2022.194839. Epub 2022 Jun 22.


Enhancer is one kind of cis-elements regulating gene transcription, whose activity is tightly controlled by epigenetic enzymes and histone modifications. Active enhancers are classified into typical enhancers, super-enhancers and over-active enhancers, according to the enrichment and location of histone modifications. Epigenetic factors control the level of histone modifications on enhancers to determine their activity, such as histone methyltransferases and acetylases. Transcription factors, cofactors and mediators co-operate together and are required for enhancer functions. In turn, abnormalities in these trans-acting factors affect enhancer activity. Recent studies have revealed enhancer dysregulation as one of the important features for cancer. Variations in enhancer regions and mutations of enhancer regulatory genes are frequently observed in cancer cells, and altering the activity of onco-enhancers is able to repress oncogene expression, and suppress tumorigenesis and metastasis. Here we summarize the recent discoveries about enhancer regulation in cancer and discuss their potential application in diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Enhancer; Histone modification; Transcription factor; Transcription regulation; cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic*
  • Epigenomics
  • Histone Code
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Transcription Factors