Epigenetic similarities between placental and cancer cells

This 2017 New Zealand review compared and contrasted epigenetic evidence from placental and cancer research:

“Placental and cancer cells are globally hypomethylated and share an epigenetic phenomenon that is not well understood – they fail to silence repetitive DNA sequences (retrotransposons) that are silenced (methylated) in healthy somatic cells.

In the placenta, hypomethylation of retrotransposons has facilitated the evolution of new genes essential for placental function. In cancer, hypomethylation is thought to contribute to activation of oncogenes, genomic instability, and retrotransposon unsilencing; the latter, we postulate, is possibly the most important consequence.

Activation of placental retrotransposon-derived genes in cancer underpins our hypothesis that hypomethylation of these genes drives cancer cell invasion.”

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bies.201700091/abstract “The Genes of Life and Death: A Potential Role for Placental-Specific Genes in Cancer” (not freely available)


The review cited a 2014 study from the same research group that covered some of the same points and is freely available:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0095840 “Retrotransposon Hypomethylation in Melanoma and Expression of a Placenta-Specific Gene”

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