Transcriptional corepressors in cancer: Emerging targets for therapeutic intervention

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The normal cell transcriptional process entails a high degree of combinatorial effects and time-dependent “flexibility” to translate cellular signaling into differential gene expression levels. Transcriptional corepressors can function as histone-modifying enzymes to regulate epigenetic events, modulate chromatin structure, and hence control transcriptional activity. Various corepressor complexes have been described; qualitative and quantitative alterations of corepressors can crucially influence the transcriptional output of both normal and malignant cells. Because these molecules can exert epigenetic control of tumorigenic signaling pathways, they can be considered potential regulators of cancer cell-related phenomena. Alterations of the expression level and/or function of transcriptional corepressors have been reported in a wide range of human cancers; thus, corepressors may present rational therapeutic targets as well as potential biomarkers of response to selective therapeutic interventions. Deeper insights into the context-specific and time-specific physical connections among transcription factors, coregulators, and gene regulatory elements, as well as epigenetic modifications, and their interactions, can enhance the capacity to interfere with small molecules that may restore the normal transcriptome/interactome in a cancer cell. There are several conceivable mechanisms of corepressor targeting in cancer that create enthusiasm. However, design, discovery, and testing of such innovative treatment approaches require extensive elaboration before they can achieve practical implementation in the clinic. Cancer 2013. © 2012 American Cancer Society.

Alterations in the structure, expression level, and/or function of transcriptional corepressors have been documented in a broad array of human malignancies. Therefore, corepressors may function as rational therapeutic targets and/or potential biomarkers of response to selective chemotherapy regimens.

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