Epigenetic Regulation of Intestinal Stem Cells and Disease: A Balancing Act of DNA and Histone Methylation.

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Genetic mutations or regulatory failures underlie cellular malfunction in many diseases, including colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. However, mutational defects alone fail to explain the complexity of such disorders. Epigenetic regulation-control of gene action through chemical and structural changes of chromatin-provides a platform to integrate multiple extracellular inputs and prepares the cellular genome for appropriate gene expression responses. Coregulation by polycomb repressive complex 2-mediated trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone 3 and DNA methylation has emerged as one of the most influential epigenetic controls in colorectal cancer and many other diseases, but molecular details remain inadequate. Here we review the molecular interplay of these epigenetic features in relation to gastrointestinal development, homeostasis, and disease biology. We discuss other epigenetic mechanisms pertinent to the balance of trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone 3 and DNA methylation and their actions in gastrointestinal cancers. We also review the current molecular understanding of chromatin control in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases.

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Authors: Alireza Lorzadeh, Maile Romero-Wolf, Ajay Goel, Unmesh Jadhav