Profiling of epigenetic features in clinical samples reveals novel widespread changes in cancer

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Aberrations in histone post-translational modifications (PTMs), as well as in the histone modifying enzymes (HMEs) that catalyze their deposition and removal, have been reported in many tumors and many epigenetic inhibitors are currently under investigation for cancer treatment. Therefore, profiling epigenetic features in cancer could have important implications for the discovery of both biomarkers for patient stratification and novel epigenetic targets. In this study, we employed mass spectrometry-based approaches to comprehensively profile histone H3 PTMs in a panel of normal and tumoral tissues for different cancer types, identifying various changes, some of which appear to be a consequence of the increased proliferation rate of tumors, while others are cell-cycle independent. Histone PTM changes found in tumors partially correlate with alterations of the gene expression profiles of HMEs obtained from publicly available data and are generally lost in culture conditions. Through this analysis, we identified tumor-and subtype-specific histone PTM changes, but also widespread changes in the levels of histone H3 K9me3 and K14ac marks. In particular, H3K14ac showed a cell-cycle independent decrease in all the seven tumor/tumor subtype models tested and could represent a novel epigenetic hallmark of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number723
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Cancer
  • Cell culture
  • Cell cycle
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone post-translational modifications
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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