INVITED REVIEW
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 549-558

Prostate cancer epigenetics and its clinical implications


Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Correspondence Address:
Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.179859

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Normal cells have a level of epigenetic programming that is superimposed on the genetic code to establish and maintain their cell identity and phenotypes. This epigenetic programming can be thought as the architecture, a sort of cityscape, that is built upon the underlying genetic landscape. The epigenetic programming is encoded by a complex set of chemical marks on DNA, on histone proteins in nucleosomes, and by numerous context-specific DNA, RNA, protein interactions that all regulate the structure, organization, and function of the genome in a given cell. It is becoming increasingly evident that abnormalities in both the genetic landscape and epigenetic cityscape can cooperate to drive carcinogenesis and disease progression. Large-scale cancer genome sequencing studies have revealed that mutations in genes encoding the enzymatic machinery for shaping the epigenetic cityscape are among the most common mutations observed in human cancers, including prostate cancer. Interestingly, although the constellation of genetic mutations in a given cancer can be quite heterogeneous from person to person, there are numerous epigenetic alterations that appear to be highly recurrent, and nearly universal in a given cancer type, including in prostate cancer. The highly recurrent nature of these alterations can be exploited for development of biomarkers for cancer detection and risk stratification and as targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we explore the basic principles of epigenetic processes in normal cells and prostate cancer cells and discuss the potential clinical implications with regards to prostate cancer biomarker development and therapy.


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