Epigenetics and Its Applications to the Progression Model of Pancreatic Cancer

  • Gwen Lomberk
  • Raul Urrutia
Reference work entry


Defined as heritable changes in gene expression, which are not due to any alteration in the DNA sequence, epigenetic pathways have come to the forefront of research in disease, and in particular, cancer. In fact, these pathways are more prevalently altered in cancer than genetic alterations and most important, can be reversible, lending themselves as attractive therapeutic targets. This chapter will cover the basic aspects of transcriptional gene regulation, epigenetics, and chromatin dynamics and then focus on the intricacies of its application to pancreatic cancer biology and potential therapeutics. In addition, a model for better understanding pancreatic cancer is outlined to expand the highly provocative and productive “mutation centric” progression model, as defined by Hruban and colleagues, into a current model that formally includes chromatin-induced and noncoding RNA-induced epigenetic changes, as well as other alterations that result from changes in nuclear shape. This model offers a compass for further considerations aimed at illuminating the field of pancreatic cancer biology, diagnosis, therapeutics, and chemoprevention, in a similar, prolific manner as the original model.


Epigenetics Transcription Chromatin dynamics DNA methylation Histone Non-coding RNAs Nucleus Nuclear shape Pancreatic cancer 



Work in the authors’ laboratories is supported by NIH DK52913 (to RU), NIH CA178627 (to GL), ChiRhoClin, Research Institute (to RU and GL), as well as the Mayo Clinic SPORE in Pancreatic Cancer (P50 CA102701).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Research, Department of SurgeryMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Division of Research, Department of Surgery and Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center (GSPMC)Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA

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