Epigenetic control of the tumor microenvironment

David L. Marks, Rachel Lo Olson, Martin E. Fernandez-Zapico

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

29 Scopus citations


Stromal cells of the tumor microenvironment have been shown to play important roles in both supporting and limiting cancer growth. The altered phenotype of tumor-associated stromal cells (fibroblasts, immune cells, endothelial cells etc.) is proposed to be mainly due to epigenetic dysregulation of gene expression; however, only limited studies have probed the roles of epigenetic mechanisms in the regulation of stromal cell function. We review recent studies demonstrating how specific epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and histone post-translational modification-based gene expression regulation, and miRNA-mediated translational regulation) drive aspects of stromal cell phenotype, and discuss the implications of these findings for treatment of malignancies. We also summarize the effects of epigenetic mechanism-targeted drugs on stromal cells and discuss the consideration of the microenvironment response in attempts to use these drugs for cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1671-1687
Number of pages17
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • DNA and histone methyltransferases
  • DNA methylation
  • cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • chromatin dynamics
  • endothelial cells
  • gene expression
  • histone deacetylases
  • histone marks
  • immune cells
  • noncoding RNAs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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