DNA methylation and cancer; A Review Article

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Maruf Raza A.K.M

Abstract

Epigenetics is the study of the changes in gene expression that are heritable and do not involve a change in the DNA sequence. DNA methylation is one of the key epigenetic mechanisms that is clearly understood. DNA methylation is the process that add methyl group to the 5th carbon atom of the cytosine base at CpG dinucleotides without changing the nucleotide sequence. Transcriptional silencing in X inactivation and genomic imprinting are two important epigenetic mechanisms where DNA methylation plays a major role. It is well known that DNA hypermethylation and hypomethylation are directly associated with tumor formation. Hypomethylation leads to the inappropriate and increased levels of gene expression in tumors. Trancriptional repression that is seen in cancers is also mostly due to hypermethylation. DNA methylation plays a major role in transcriptional silencing in X inactivation, genomic imprinting and tumor or cancer formation. Changes in the pattern of DNA methylation have been a consistent finding in cancer cells. DNA methylation plays an important role in the generation of mutations in human tumors. The high incidence of C-to-T transitions found in the p53 tumor-suppressor gene. DNA methylation plays a crucial role in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin organization within normal eukaryotic cells. In cancer patterns of DNA methylation are altered with global hypomethylation and hypermethylation of a subset of CpG-dense gene-associated regions (CpG islands).

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