Shaw et al., Genomic analysis of circulating cell free DNA infers breast cancer dormancy. Genome Res. doi:10.1101/gr.123497.111
3. Epigenomic analyses shed new light on breast, colon, and prostate cancers
Epigenetic modifications (cellular changes that alter gene expression, phenotype, and disease by mechanisms other than variation in DNA sequence) are increasingly being recognized for playing a role in diseases including cancer. Published in this special issue of Genome Research are four studies that have investigated the role of DNA methylation in cancer, a chemical modification of DNA associated with gene silencing, shedding new light on the biology of breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.
DNA methylation and chromatin (the DNA/protein complex that regulates gene expression and DNA replication) are both know to be altered in cancer, but little is known how these two factors play a coordinated role in cancer progression. In this issue, Hon et al. have used next-generation sequencing technology to investigate this interplay in breast cancer. Surprisingly, although they observed widespread loss of DNA methylation that would be predicted to increase gene expression, they find that the genes are silenced by the formation of gene-repressing chromatin. This mechanism could play an important role in breast cancer progression by repressing genes that normally suppress tumors.
Colorectal cancer is a complex disease, classified into multiple subtypes by genetic and epigenetic alterations in the cancer genome. Two studies published in this issue investigate methylation and the classification of colon cancers. The first of these studies, by Hinoue et al., performed comprehensive DNA methylation profiling of colorec
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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory