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Dynamics of bivalent chromatin domains upon drug induced reactivation and resilencing in cancer cells


Epigenetic deregulation revealed by altered profiles of DNA methylation and histone modifications is a frequent event in cancer cells and results in abnormal patterns of gene expression. Cancer silenced genes constitute prime therapeutic targets and considerable progress has been made in the epigenetic characterization of the chromatin scenarios associated with their inactivation and drug induced reactivation. Despite these advances, the mechanisms involved in the maintenance or resetting of epigenetic states in both physiological and pharmacological situations are poorly known. To get insights into the dynamics of chromatin regulation upon drug-induced reactivation, we have investigated the epigenetic profiles of two chromosomal regions undergoing long range epigenetic silencing in colon cancer cells in time-course settings after exposure of cells to chromatin reactivating agents. The DNA methylation states and the balance between histone H3K4 methylation and H3K27 methylation marks clearly define groups of genes with alternative responses to therapy. Drug reactivated cancer silenced genes exhibit dominant bivalent chromatin states that overcome the treatment and restore the transcriptional silencing approximately four weeks after drug exposure. The interplay between DNA methylation and bivalent histone marks appears to configure a plastic but stable chromatin scenario that is fully restored in silenced genes after drug withdrawal.

Type Journal
Authors Mayor, R.; Munoz, M.; Coolen, M.W.; Custodio, J.; Esteller, M.; Clark, S.J.; Peinado, M.A.
Publisher Name Epigenetics
Published Date 2011-09-01
Published Volume 6
Published Issue 9
Published Pages 1138-1148
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version