DNA Methylation of Enhancer Elements in Myeloid Neoplasms: Think Outside the Promoters?
Gene regulation through DNA methylation is a well described phenomenon that has a prominent role in physiological and pathological cell-states. This epigenetic modification is usually grouped in regions denominated CpG islands, which frequently co-localize with gene promoters, silencing the transcription of those genes. Recent genome-wide DNA methylation studies have challenged this paradigm, demonstrating that DNA methylation of regulatory regions outside promoters is able to influence cell-type specific gene expression programs under physiologic or pathologic conditions. Coupling genome-wide DNA methylation assays with histone mark annotation has allowed for the identification of specific epigenomic changes that affect enhancer regulatory regions, revealing an additional layer of complexity to the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. In this review, we summarize the novel evidence for the molecular and biological regulation of DNA methylation in enhancer regions and the dynamism of these changes contributing to the fine-tuning of gene expression. We also analyze the contribution of enhancer DNA methylation on the expression of relevant genes in acute myeloid leukemia and chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms. The characterization of the aberrant enhancer DNA methylation provides not only a novel pathogenic mechanism for different tumors but also highlights novel potential therapeutic targets for myeloid derived neoplasms.