CpG Island Hypermethylation of Tumor Suppressor microRNAs in Human Cancer

 Abstract

In the last few years, microRNAs have started a revolution in molecular biology and emerged as key players in the cancer process. For these reasons, it is extremely important to understand the physiological and disease-associated mechanisms underlying the regulation of these small, single-stranded RNAs. Thus, it was merely a matter of time before microRNAs and epigenetics coincided. In cancer, aberrant DNA hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes, global genomic DNA hypomethylation, and disruption of the histone modification patterns are the main epigenetic alterations, and have consequently been widely studied. Some microRNAs are downregulated in cancer and act as bona fide tumor suppressor genes, and this knowledge led to the proposal of the hypothesis that miRNAs could be silenced by epigenetic mechanisms. It has recently been shown that miR-127 and miR-124a, two putative tumor suppressor miRNAs, are methylated in tumor cells. Epigenomic tools can be effectively used in the search for new methylated tumor suppressor microRNAs. Furthermore, this aberrant methylation can be reversed by epigenetic drugs, such as DNA demethylating agents and histone deacetylase inhibitors, restoring microRNA expression levels and reverting the tumoral phenotype. In the coming years we will come to realize more fully the relevance of this expected encounter between two forces – epigenetics and microRNAs – that are currently at the forefront of biology.

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1454 - 1458
doi
10.4161/cc.6.12.4408
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Perspectives
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CpG Island Hypermethylation of Tumor Suppressor microRNAs in Human Cancer