Redefining regulation of DNA methylation by RNA interference

Academic Article


  • Epigenetic changes refer to heritable changes that may modulate gene expression without affecting DNA sequence. DNA methylation is one such heritable epigenetic change, which is causally associated with the transcription regulation of many genes in the mammalian genome. Altered DNA methylation has been implicated in a wide variety of human diseases including cancer. Understanding the regulation of DNA methylation is likely to improve the ability to diagnose and treat these diseases. With the advent of high-throughput RNA interference (RNAi) screens, answering epigenetic questions on a genomic scale is now possible. Two recent genome-wide RNAi screens have addressed the regulation of DNA methylation in cancer, leading to the identification of the regulators of epigenetic silencing by oncogenic RAS and how epigenetic silencing of the tumor suppressor RASSF1A is maintained. These RNAi screens have much wider applications, since similar screens can now be adapted to identify the mechanism of silencing of any human disease-associated gene that is epigenetically regulated. In this review, we discuss two recent genome-wide RNAi screens for epigenetic regulators and explore potential applications in understanding DNA methylation and gene expression regulation in mammalian cells. We also discuss some of the key unanswered questions in the field of DNA methylation and suggest genome-wide RNAi screens designed to answer them. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
  • Published In

  • Genomics  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Muthusamy V; Bosenberg M; Wajapeyee N
  • Start Page

  • 191
  • End Page

  • 198
  • Volume

  • 96
  • Issue

  • 4