Epigenetic response of imprinted domains during carcinogenesis

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© 2017 The Author(s). Background: Imprinted domains have been identified as targets for aberrant DNA methylation during carcinogenesis, but it remains unclear when these epigenetic alterations occur and how they contribute to tumor progression. Epigenetic instability at key cis-regulatory elements within imprinted domains can concomitantly activate proto-oncogenes and turn off tumor suppressor genes. Thus, to further characterize the epigenetic response of imprinted domains during carcinogenesis, we compared the stability of DNA methylation at a variety of cis-regulatory elements within imprinted domains in two fundamentally different mouse tumors, benign and malignant, induced by the KrasG12D mutation. Results: We report that imprinted domains remain stable in benign processes but are highly susceptible to epigenetic alterations in infiltrative lesions. The preservation of DNA methylation within imprinted domains in benign tumors throughout their duration suggests that imprinted genes are not involved with the initiation of carcinogenesis or the growth of tumors. However, the frequent detection of DNA methylation changes at imprinting control regions in infiltrative lesions suggest that imprinted genes are associated with tumor cells gaining the ability to defy tissue boundaries. Conclusion: Overall, this study demonstrates that imprinted domains are targeted for DNA hypermethylation when benign tumor cells transition to malignant. Thus, monitoring DNA methylation within imprinted domains may be useful in evaluating the progression of neoplasms.

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Clinical Epigenetics

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