Molecular targets of epigenetic regulation and effectors of environmental influences.
The true understanding of what we currently define as epigenetics evolved over time as our knowledge on DNA methylation and chromatin modifications and their effects on gene expression increased. The current explosion of research on epigenetics and the increasing documentation of the effects of various environmental factors on DNA methylation, chromatin modification, as well as on the expression of small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have expanded the scope of research on the etiology of various diseases including cancer. The current review briefly discusses the molecular mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and expands the discussion with examples on the role of environment, such as the immediate environment during development, in inducing epigenetic changes and modulating gene expression.