Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Cancer Epigenetics

  • Berna Demircan
  • Kevin Brown
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_807-2


Epigenetics is defined as chromatin modifications that can alter gene expression, are heritable during cell division, but do not involve a change in DNA coding sequence.


In the context of normal biological processes, epigenetic mechanisms establish regions within the genome containing transcriptionally active (termed euchromatin) and silent (termed heterochromatin) DNA. Further, epigenetic mechanisms are responsible for stably inherited patterns of gene expression such as X chromosome inactivation and genomic imprinting (i.e., selective expression of maternal or paternal alleles). Chromatin modifications that alter gene expression are both changes to the methylation state of DNA and posttranslational modifications to histone complexes.

It is well recognized that genetic mutations occur in cancer cells and that these events can exert profound and disease-associated changes in gene expression and/or function. However, it is becoming widely accepted that cancer...


Histone Modification HDAC Inhibitor Epigenetic Alteration Sodium Butyrate Autosomal Recessive Disease 
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See Also

  1. (2012) Acetyltransferase. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, p 17. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_27Google Scholar
  2. (2012) DNA-methyl-transferases. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, p 1147. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_1681Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Florida, College of MedicineGainesvilleUSA