Pediatric brain tumors (BT) represent a broad group of malignancies that affect children,
displaying different degrees of aggressiveness and prognosis. Current studies demonstrate a crosslink
between genetic and epigenetic changes within these tumors. Histone modifications are key elements in
the pathogenesis of cancer in general and in brain tumors in particular. It is well documented that at least two classes of
enzymes control acetylation of histones: histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylase (HDACs).
Transformed HAT or HDAC action was identified in a number of human tumors. It has been hypothesized that HDACs
regulate gene expression by deacetylating important genes for cell maintenance. Several HDACs inhibitors have been
characterized in the last years and have been shown to promote growth blockage, differentiation and apoptosis in various
types of tumors, including glioblastomas, medulloblastomas, neuroblastomas, melanomas, and leukemias. Some of these
inhibitors are currently under clinical investigation for different cancer treatments. This review summarizes important
mechanisms of histone modifications and discusses recent discoveries with impact on the pre-clinical and clinical field of
pediatric brain tumor treatment.
Keywords: Epigenetics, gene expression, histone deacetylase inhibitors, histone deacetylase, histone modification, pediatric
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