Epigenomics and breast cancer

Pang Kuo Lo, Saraswati Sukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Breast carcinogenesis involves genetic and epigenetic alterations that cause aberrant gene function. Recent progress in the knowledge of epigenomics has had a profound impact on the understanding of mechanisms leading to breast cancer, and consequently the development of new strategies for diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Epigenetic regulation has been known to involve three mutually interacting events - DNA methylation, histone modifications and nucleosomal remodeling. These processes modulate chromatin structure to form euchromatin or heterochromatin, and in turn activate or silence gene expression. Alteration in expression of key genes through aberrant epigenetic regulation in breast cells can lead to initiation, promotion and maintenance of carcinogenesis, and is even implicated in the generation of drug resistance. We currently review known roles of the epigenetic machinery in the development and recurrence of breast cancer. Furthermore, we highlight the significance of epigenetic alterations as predictive biomarkers and as new targets of anticancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1879-1902
Number of pages24
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • CpG islands
  • DNA methylation
  • breast cancer
  • demethylating agents
  • epigenetics
  • histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • histone modifications
  • nucleosomal remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology


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