Epigenetic alterations in hematopoietic malignancies
Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
Gene discovery efforts in patients with hematopoietic malignancies have brought to the forefront a series of mutations in genes thought to be involved in the epigenetic regulation of gene transcription. These mutations occur in genes known, or suspected, to play a role in modifying cytosine nucleotides on DNA and/or altering the state of histone modifications. Genes such as ASXL1, DNMT3A, EZH2, IDH1/2, MLL1, and TET2 all have been shown to be mutated and/or translocated in patients with myeloid malignancies. Intriguingly, many of the alterations affecting DNA cytosine modifications in myeloid malignancies (mutations in DNMT3A, IDH1/2, and TET2) have also been found in patients with T-cell lymphomas, and EZH2 mutations appear to be critical in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia development as well. In addition, the discovery of frequent mutations in CREBBP, EP300, EZH2, and MLL2 in B-cell lymphomas suggests that epigenetic alterations play a critical role in lymphomagenesis. The purpose of this review is to present functional evidence of how alterations in these epigenetic modifiers promote hematopoietic transformation. The conclusions drawn from these data are valuable in understanding biological mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets.