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Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters

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Volume 19, Issue 3

The potential role of O-GlcNAc modification in cancer epigenetics

Ewa Forma / Paweł Jóźwiak / Magdalena Bryś / Anna Krześlak
Published Online: 2014-09-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-014-0204-6


There is no doubt that cancer is not only a genetic disease but that it can also occur due to epigenetic abnormalities. Diet and environmental factors can alter the scope of epigenetic regulation. The results of recent studies suggest that O-GlcNAcylation, which involves the addition of N-acetylglucosamine on the serine or threonine residues of proteins, may play a key role in the regulation of the epigenome in response to the metabolic status of the cell. Two enzymes are responsible for cyclic O-GlcNAcylation: O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT), which catalyzes the addition of the GlcNAc moiety to target proteins; and O-GlcNAcase (OGA), which removes the sugar moiety from proteins. Aberrant expression of O-GlcNAc cycling enzymes, especially OGT, has been found in all studied human cancers. OGT can link the cellular metabolic state and the epigenetic status of cancer cells by interacting with and modifying many epigenetic factors, such as HCF-1, TET, mSin3A, HDAC, and BAP1. A growing body of evidence from animal model systems also suggests an important role for OGT in polycomb-dependent repression of genes activity. Moreover, O-GlcNAcylation may be a part of the histone code: O-GlcNAc residues are found on all core histones.

Keywords: O-GlcNAcylation; Cancer; O-GlcNAc transferase; Histone modifications; Host cell factor 1; Ten-eleven translocation; Polycomb

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About the article

Published Online: 2014-09-12

Published in Print: 2014-09-01

Citation Information: Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters, Volume 19, Issue 3, Pages 438–460, ISSN (Online) 1689-1392, ISSN (Print) 1425-8153, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-014-0204-6.

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