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Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PNETs) are the second most common pancreatic tumour. However, relatively little is known about their tumourigenic drivers, other than mutations involving the Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia 1 (MEN1), ATRX Chromatin Remodeler (ATRX), and Death Domain Associated Protein (DAXX) genes, which are found in ~ 40% of sporadic PNETs. PNETs have a low mutational burden, thereby suggesting that other factors likely contribute to their development, including epigenetic regulators. One such epigenetic process, DNA methylation, silences gene transcription via 5’methylcytosine (5mC), and this is usually facilitated by DNA methyltransferase enzymes at CpG rich areas around gene promoters. However, 5’hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), which is the first epigenetic mark during cytosine demethylation, and opposes the function of 5mC, is associated with gene transcription, although the significance of this remains unknown, as it is indistinguishable from 5mC when conventional bisulfite conversion techniques are solely used. Advances in array-based technologies have facilitated investigation of PNET methylomes and enabled PNETs to be clustered by methylome signatures, which has assisted in prognosis and discovery of new aberrantly regulated genes contributing to tumourigenesis. This review will discuss the biology of DNA methylation, its role in PNET development, and impact on prognostication and discovery of epigenome-targeted therapies.

Original publication




Journal article


Endocrine Oncology



Publication Date