Epigenetic regulation of cancer stem cell and tumorigenesis

Kezhou Zhu, Victoria Xie, Suyun Huang
Advances in Cancer Research 2020, 148: 1-26
As a unique subpopulation of cancer cells, cancer stem cells (CSCs) acquire the resistance to conventional therapies and appear to be the prime cause of cancer recurrence. Like their normal counterparts, CSCs can renew themselves and generate differentiated progenies. Cancer stem cells are distinguished among heterogenous cancer cells by molecular markers and their capacity of efficiently forming new tumors composed of diverse and heterogenous cancer cells. Tumor heterogeneity can be inter- or intra-tumor, molecularly resulting from the accumulation of genetic and non-genetic alterations. Non-genetic alterations are mainly changes on epigenetic modifications of DNA and histone, and chromatin remodeling. As tumor-initiating cells and contributing to the tumor heterogeneity in the brain, glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) attract extensive research interests. Epigenetic modifications confer on tumor cells including CSCs reversible and inheritable genomic changes and affect gene expression without alteration in DNA sequence. Here, we will review recent advances in histone demethylation, DNA methylation, RNA methylation and ubiquitination in glioblastomas and their impacts on tumorigenesis with a focus on CSCs.

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