Cancer is perceived as a heterogeneous group of diseases that is characterized by aberrant patterns of gene expression. In the last decade, an increasing amount of data has pointed to a key role for epigenetic alterations in human cancer. In this review, we focus on a subclass of epigenetic regulators, namely histone methyltransferases (HMTs). Several HMTs have been linked to different types of cancer; however, in most cases we only have limited knowledge regarding the molecular mechanisms by which the HMTs contribute to disease development. We summarize the current knowledge regarding some of the best-validated examples of HMTs contributing to tumorigenesis and discuss their potential mechanisms of action.
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, 2009, Vol 21, Issue 2, p. 209-20