Cancer and Gene Regulation

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New drugs are being developed that decrease DNA methylation and prevent the removal of acetyl groups from histone proteins. Explain how these drugs could affect gene expression to help kill tumor cells.


These drugs will keep the histone proteins and the DNA methylation patterns in the open chromosomal configuration so that transcription is feasible. If a gene is silenced, these drugs could reverse the epigenetic configuration to re-express the gene.

How can understanding the gene expression pattern in a cancer cell tell you something about that specific form of cancer?


Understanding which genes are expressed in a cancer cell can help diagnose the specific form of cancer. It can also help identify treatment options for that patient. For example, if a breast cancer tumor expresses the EGFR in high numbers, it might respond to specific anti-EGFR therapy. If that receptor is not expressed, it would not respond to that therapy.