2018 Volume 94 Issue 6 Pages 235-247
There is increasing evidence that cancer cells acquire epigenetic abnormalities as well as genetic mutations during cancer initiation, maintenance, and progression. However, the role of epigenetic regulation in cancer development, especially at the organismal level, remains to be elucidated. Here, we describe the causative role of epigenetic abnormalities in cancer, referring to our in vivo studies using induced pluripotent stem cell technology. We first summarize epigenetic reorganization during cellular reprogramming and introduce our in vivo reprogramming system for investigating the impact of dedifferentiation-driven epigenetic disruption in cancer development. Accordingly, we propose that particular types of cancer, in which causative mutations are not often detectable, such as pediatric cancers like Wilms’ tumor, may develop mainly through alterations in epigenetic regulation triggered by dedifferentiation. Finally, we discuss issues that still remain to be resolved, and propose possible future applications of in vivo reprogramming to study cancer and other biological phenomena including organismal aging.