DNA Hypo- vs. Hypermethylation in Cancer

Tumor Specificity, Tumor Progression, and Therapeutic Implications
  • Melanie Ehrlich
  • Guanchao Jiang
Part of the Medical Intelligence Unit book series (MIUN)


DNA hypomethylation associated with cancer is probably as frequent as cancer-linked DNA hypermethylation. The hypomethylation of genomic sequences often exceeds hypermethylation so that cancers frequently display lower levels of genomic 5-methylcytosine than do a variety of normal postnatal tissues. Different types of sequences are generally targeted for cancer-related decreases and increases in DNA methylation. Some sequences appear to be more frequently hypomethylated in certain types of cancers than other types. DNA hypomethylation sometimes is evident early in tumorigenesis; however, it also can be associated with tumor progression. Hypomethylation of specific DNA sequences, especially DNA repeats, may serve as a marker for tumorigenesis or tumor progression, as can hypermethylation of unique DNA sequences. Cancer-linked DNA hypomethylation can occur without an association with DNA hypermethylation. Because of this finding and the very frequent targeting of DNA sequences for this hypomethylation in diverse cancers, genomic hypomethylation is likely to contribute to carcinogenesis and not to be just a byproduct of oncogenic transformation. Therefore, caution should be used in development of treatment schemes for cancer involving DNA demethylation because they might result in increased tumor progression.


Malignant Mesothelioma Global Hypomethylation Genomic Hypomethylation Refractory Acute Leukemia Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning Profile 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© and Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Ehrlich
    • 1
  • Guanchao Jiang
    • 1
  1. 1.Program in Human Genetics and Tulane Cancer CenterTulane Medical SchoolNew OrleansUSA

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