DNA methylation changes in hematologic malignancies: Biologic and clinical implications

J. PJ Issa, S. B. Baylin, J. G. Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


DNA methylation changes are among the most common detectable abnormalities in human neoplasia. Hypermethylation within the promoters of selected genes appears to be especially common in all types of human hematopoietic neoplasms, and is usually associated with inactivation of the involved gene(s). Such hypermethylation-associated silencing of gene expression has been shown for several genes regulating the growth and differentiation of hematopoietic cells, including the estrogen receptor (ER) gene, P15, P16 and others. Hypermethylation within the promoters of some genes appear to be an early event in the pathogenesis of neoplasia (ER, P15), while other genes seem to become methylated during the progression of leukemias (HIC1, c-abl). The high prevalence of promoter methylation suggests that this molecular abnormality can be used to monitor disease activity during therapy. In addition, new technology allows the sensitive identification of gene hypermethylation in a background of normal cells, suggesting possible new strategies for the detection of minimal residual disease. Finally, reactivation of tumor-suppressor gene expression through pharmacologic inhibition of DNA methyltransferase and resultant DNA demethylation appears to be a promising new avenue of therapy in acute leukemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 1997


  • CpG islands
  • DNA methylation
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Tumor-suppressor genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cancer Research


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