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DNA methylation in cancer plays a variety of roles, helping to change the healthy regulation of gene expression to a disease pattern. All mammalian cells descended from a fertilized egg (a zygote) share a common DNA sequence (except for new mutations in some lineages). However, during development and formation of different tissues epigenetic factors change. The changes include histone modifications, CpG island methylations and chromatin reorganizations which can cause the stable silencing or activation of particular genes. Once differentiated tissues are formed, CpG island methylation is generally stably inherited from one cell division to the next through the DNA methylation maintenance machinery.

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  • DNA methylation in cancer
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  • DNA methylation in cancer plays a variety of roles, helping to change the healthy regulation of gene expression to a disease pattern. All mammalian cells descended from a fertilized egg (a zygote) share a common DNA sequence (except for new mutations in some lineages). However, during development and formation of different tissues epigenetic factors change. The changes include histone modifications, CpG island methylations and chromatin reorganizations which can cause the stable silencing or activation of particular genes. Once differentiated tissues are formed, CpG island methylation is generally stably inherited from one cell division to the next through the DNA methylation maintenance machinery.
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  • DNA methylation in cancer plays a variety of roles, helping to change the healthy regulation of gene expression to a disease pattern. All mammalian cells descended from a fertilized egg (a zygote) share a common DNA sequence (except for new mutations in some lineages). However, during development and formation of different tissues epigenetic factors change. The changes include histone modifications, CpG island methylations and chromatin reorganizations which can cause the stable silencing or activation of particular genes. Once differentiated tissues are formed, CpG island methylation is generally stably inherited from one cell division to the next through the DNA methylation maintenance machinery. In cancer, a number of mutational changes are found in protein coding genes. Colorectal cancers typically have 3 to 6 driver mutations and 33 to 66 hitchhiker or passenger mutations that silence protein expression in the genes affected. However, transcriptional silencing may be more important than mutation in causing gene silencing in progression to cancer. In colorectal cancers about 600 to 800 genes are transcriptionally silenced, compared to adjacent normal-appearing tissues, by CpG island methylation. Transcriptional repression in cancer can also occur by other epigenetic mechanisms, such as altered expression of microRNAs.
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