An overview of the epigenetic regulation of clock genes in cancer

Disruption of the Molecular Circadian Clock and Cancer: An Epigenetic Link

Biochemical Genetics

Biochemical Genetics Sep 2019 58:189–209

The circadian clock is regulated at the molecular level by feedback circuits of
a group of genes known as "clock genes", which establish a mechanism that con‑
trols circadian cellular physiology to maintain the balance between cell prolifera‑
tion, response to DNA damage and apoptosis. Alterations in the expression of clock
genes due to genetic or epigenetic mechanisms have been associated with multiple
diseases including cancer. Even some clock genes such as the Per1, Per2, Bmal1
genes have been proposed as tumor suppressor genes, with a relevant role during
carcinogenesis. At the molecular level, multiple mechanisms of molecular control
have been described to link circadian transcription, cell cycle control, and tumo‑
rigenesis. In addition, recent findings describe an epigenetic control of circadian
transcription, at the level of DNA methylation as well as in the modifications of
histones. However, the link between the circadian epigenome and cancer remains
unclear. In this article, we review the evidence that suggests a relationship between
alterations in the expression of clock genes, with the development of cancer, from
the epigenetic landscape.
September 2019
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