Carcinogen Induced Epigenetic Changes

Even though the application of Ockham's (or Occam's) razor to the effects of chemical carcinogens leads to the concept that the genotoxic results of carcinogen-DNA binding are the simplest, most straightforward explanation for their carcinogenicity, a number of important epigenetic effects are also observed. For example, changes in gene expression patterns caused by carcinogen-induced epigenetic alterations such as changes in DNA methylation or histone acetylation have been observed after exposure of cells to carcinogens. This pattern has been observed, for example, during cells' exposure to the carcinogenic metals nickel, cadmium, or arsenic.7 The carcinogenic effects of nickel have been linked to DNA hypermethylation and histone deacetyla-tion, both of which can alter chromatin structure and cause epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes (see Chapter 5).

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