Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Sep 28, 2021; 27(36): 6004-6024
Published online Sep 28, 2021. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i36.6004
Histone methylation in pancreatic cancer and its clinical implications
Xing-Yu Liu, Chuan-Hao Guo, Zhi-Yuan Xi, Xin-Qi Xu, Qing-Yang Zhao, Li-Sha Li, Ying Wang
Xing-Yu Liu, Xin-Qi Xu, Qing-Yang Zhao, Ying Wang, The First Hospital of Jilin University, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, Jilin Province, China
Chuan-Hao Guo, Zhi-Yuan Xi, Li-Sha Li, The Key Laboratory of Pathobiology, Ministry of Education, College of Basic Medical Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, Jilin Province, China
Author contributions: Liu XY, Guo CH, Xi ZY, Xu XQ, and Zhao QY drafted the manuscript and designed the tables; Li LS and Wang Y designed and revised the manuscript; All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors have no conflicts of interests or financial disclosures relevant to this manuscript.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Ying Wang, MM, Technologist-In-Charge, The First Hospital of Jilin University, Jilin University, No. 126 Xinmin Street, Changchun 130021, Jilin Province, China.
Received: January 27, 2021
Peer-review started: January 27, 2021
First decision: February 25, 2021
Revised: March 12, 2021
Accepted: April 22, 2021
Article in press: April 22, 2021
Published online: September 28, 2021

Pancreatic cancer (PC) is an aggressive human cancer. Appropriate methods for the diagnosis and treatment of PC have not been found at the genetic level, thus making epigenetics a promising research path in studies of PC. Histone methylation is one of the most complicated types of epigenetic modifications and has proved crucial in the development of PC. Histone methylation is a reversible process regulated by readers, writers, and erasers. Some writers and erasers can be recognized as potential biomarkers and candidate therapeutic targets in PC because of their unusual expression in PC cells compared with normal pancreatic cells. Based on the impact that writers have on the development of PC, some inhibitors of writers have been developed. However, few inhibitors of erasers have been developed and put to clinical use. Meanwhile, there is not enough research on the reader domains. Therefore, the study of erasers and readers is still a promising area. This review focuses on the regulatory mechanism of histone methylation, and the diagnosis and chemotherapy of PC based on it. The future of epigenetic modification in PC research is also discussed.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer, Epigenetics, Histone modification, Methylation, Demethylation, Clinical application

Core Tip: Pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal malignancy of the digestive tract that is difficult to diagnose and treat. Histone methylation/demethylation equilibrium is altered in carcinogenesis, resulting in changes in chromatin structure and gene expression. Not only are histone methylation writers related to histone methylation erasers but histone methylation is also related to other epigenetic modifications. Therefore, histone methylation is addressed as a potentially important chemotherapy drug target.