Functional Enhancers As Master Regulators of Tissue-Specific Gene Regulation and Cancer Development

  • Ko, Je Yeong (Molecular Medicine Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, Sookmyung Women's University) ;
  • Oh, Sumin (Research Institute of Women's Health, Sookmyung Women's University) ;
  • Yoo, Kyung Hyun (Laboratory of Biomedical Genomics, Department of Biological Sciences, Sookmyung Women's University)
  • Received : 2017.03.05
  • Accepted : 2017.03.30
  • Published : 2017.03.31


Tissue-specific transcription is critical for normal development, and abnormalities causing undesirable gene expression may lead to diseases such as cancer. Such highly organized transcription is controlled by enhancers with specific DNA sequences recognized by transcription factors. Enhancers are associated with chromatin modifications that are distinct epigenetic features in a tissue-specific manner. Recently, super-enhancers comprising enhancer clusters co-occupied by lineage-specific factors have been identified in diverse cell types such as adipocytes, hair follicle stem cells, and mammary epithelial cells. In addition, noncoding RNAs, named eRNAs, are synthesized at super-enhancer regions before their target genes are transcribed. Many functional studies revealed that super-enhancers and eRNAs are essential for the regulation of tissue-specific gene expression. In this review, we summarize recent findings concerning enhancer function in tissue-specific gene regulation and cancer development.


cell-type specific gene regulation;enhancer;epigenetic regulation;eRNA;super-enhancer


Supported by : Sookmyung Women’s University


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