AlteredTERTpromoter and other genomic regulatory elements: occurrence and impact

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Study of genetic alterations, inherited or acquired, that increase the risk or drive cancers and many other diseases had remained mostly confined to coding sequences of the human genome. Data from genome wide associations studies, development of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), and a spurt in detection of driver somatic mutations have shifted focus towards noncoding regions of the human genome. The majority of genetic variants robustly associated with cancers and other syndromes identified through genome wide studies are located within noncoding regulatory regions of the genome. Genome wide techniques have put an emphasis on the role of three-dimensional chromosomal structures and cis-acting elements in regulations of different genes. The variants within noncoding genomic regions can potentially alter a number of regulatory elements including promoters, enhancers, insulators, noncoding long RNAs and others that affect cancers and various diseases through altered expression of critical genes. With effect of genetic alterations within regulatory elements dependent on other partner molecules like transcription factors and histone marks, an understanding of such modifications can potentially identify extended therapeutic targets. That concept has been augmented by the detection of driver somatic noncoding mutations within the promoter region of thetelomerase reverse transcriptase(TERT) gene in different cancers. The acquired somatic noncoding mutations within different regulatory elements are now being reported in different cancers with an increased regularity. In this review we discuss the occurrence and impact of germline and somatic alterations within theTERTpromoter and other genomic regulatory elements.

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