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Epigenetic Mechanisms in Tumorigenesis

Molecular Biology of Specific Diseases

  1. Maureen K. Bunger,
  2. Trevor K. Archer

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200300157

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Bunger, M. K. and Archer, T. K. 2006. Epigenetic Mechanisms in Tumorigenesis. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


There is convincing evidence that tumorigenesis results from mutations in DNA that lead to critical changes in cell metabolism and are inherited as a cell divides itself. However, the process of tumorigenesis can also be strongly influenced by epigenetic factors. Epigenetic inheritance is defined as inheritance that does not follow normal Mendelian patterns and may involve nuclear mcb.200300157s in addition to DNA. We now have significant information about the molecular mechanisms that influence epigenetic inheritance. Most of these mechanisms include direct modifications of either DNA itself or the collection of proteins, called histones, which intimately associate with DNA. Unlike DNA mutations, epigenetic events are often reversible, making them exciting new targets for therapy. This understanding is leading to the development of specific drugs that target epigenetic events and thus may complement existing cancer treatments.


  • Epigenetics: epi- Gr.;
  • Histones;
  • Nucleosome;
  • Euchromatin;
  • Heterochromatin;
  • Loss of Heterozygosity