Introduction: chromatin, epigenetics and cancer


Small chemical modifications of DNA and histones, mediate epigenetic signalling that can modulate many biological processes. The enzymes that mediate these modifications and the proteins that recognise them are proving to be good targets for therapeutic intervention, with several inhibitors currently in clinical trials. During the first talk of the session, Mark Bunnage will provide examples of targeted drug discovery directed against a class of protein that recognise acetylated histones. Two talks will follow that provide insights into the mechanism of action of DNA and histone methylation. First, Wolf Reik will describe the involvement of DNA methylation in early development and its connection to reprogramming; John Whetstine will then describe how copy number heterogeneity can be regulated by histone methylation and in particular by an enzyme KDM4A, that acts to remove methyl groups.