DNA methylation of mobile genetic elements in human cancers
Mobile genetic elements are responsible for half of the human genome, creating the host genomic instability or variability through several mechanisms. Two types of abnormal DNA methylation in the genome, hypomethylation and hypermethylation, are associated with cancer progression. Genomic hypermethylation has been most often observed on the CpG islands around gene promoter regions in cancer cells. In contrast, hypomethylation has been observed on mobile genetic elements in the cancer cells. It is recently considered that the hypomethylation of mobile genetic elements may play a biological role in cancer cells along with the DNA hypermethylation on CpG islands. Growing evidence has indicated that mobile genetic elements could be associated with the cancer initiation and progression through the hypomethylation. Here we review the recent progress on the relationship between DNA methylation and mobile genetic elements, focusing on the hypomethylation of LINE-1 and HERV elements in various human cancers and suggest that DNA hypomethylation of mobile genetic elements could have potential to be a new cancer therapy target in the future.
KeywordsMobile genetic element Hypermethylation Hypomethylation LINE elements HERV elements
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