UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Program in Cell Biology; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Imbalzano Lab; UMass Metabolic Network

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Cancer Biology | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Molecular Biology


Multiple mechanisms of epigenetic control that include DNA methylation, histone modification, noncoding RNAs, and mitotic gene bookmarking play pivotal roles in stringent gene regulation during lineage commitment and maintenance. Experimental evidence indicates that bivalent chromatin domains, i.e., genome regions that are marked by both H3K4me3 (activating) and H3K27me3 (repressive) histone modifications, are a key property of pluripotent stem cells. Bivalency of developmental genes during the G1 phase of the pluripotent stem cell cycle contributes to cell fate decisions. Recently, some cancer types have been shown to exhibit partial recapitulation of bivalent chromatin modifications that are lost along with pluripotency, suggesting a mechanism by which cancer cells reacquire properties that are characteristic of undifferentiated, multipotent cells. This bivalent epigenetic control of oncofetal gene expression in cancer cells may offer novel insights into the onset and progression of cancer and may provide specific and selective options for diagnosis as well as for therapeutic intervention.


bivalency, cancer, epigenetic control, nuclear structure, oncofetal gene expression

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Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology. Publisher PDF posted as allowed by the publisher's author rights policy at

DOI of Published Version



Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Nov 13;37(23). pii: e00352-17. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00352-17. Print 2017 Dec 1. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular and cellular biology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID