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Critical Reviews™ in Oncogenesis
SJR: 0.631 SNIP: 0.503 CiteScore™: 2

ISSN Druckformat: 0893-9675
ISSN Online: 2162-6448

Critical Reviews™ in Oncogenesis

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevOncog.2017024506
pages 195-218

Histone Acetyltransferases in Cancer: Guardians or Hazards?

Christina Demetriadou
University of Cyprus, Department of Biological Sciences, Nicosia, Cyprus
Antonis Kirmizis
University of Cyprus, Department of Biological Sciences, Nicosia, Cyprus


Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) catalyzing N-epsilon-lysine or N-alpha-terminal acetylation on histone and non-histone substrates are important epigenetic regulators controlling gene expression and chromatin structure. Deregulation of these enzymes by genetic or epigenetic alterations accompanied by defects in gene transcription have been implicated in oncogenesis. Therefore, these enzymes are considered promising therapeutic targets, offering new horizons for epigenetic cancer therapy. However, recent observations suggest that these enzymes function as both oncogenes and tumor suppressors. In this review, we present the current evidence demonstrating that individual HATs can either prevent cancer cell proliferation or drive malignant transformation depending on the molecular context and cancer type. We therefore advocate that future therapeutic interventions targeted toward these enzymes should carefully consider the fact that HATs commonly have a two-sided role in carcinogenesis.

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